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Earlier this week, we were talking about keeping our cells healthier by steering clear of processed foods. Well, what about all the processed foods we have already been eating? What do we do about the MSG and fake food coloring already swimming around in our system? Do we dare detox?

I sat down with Rejuv Medical’s Dr. Janna Vilen to get the dish on detox.

Kirsten: We hear of people “doing a detox” over a period of time. What exactly is involved with a detox diet?

 Dr. Vilen: First of all, when we say detox, it is not a cleanse. It’s more like hitting an internal reset button than a full evacuation of your system.  We are talking about eating clean in order to reset the chemical balance of your organs and detoxifying your liver and kidneys – basically getting rid of what shouldn’t be there! Things that are in processed foods. If you can’t say it, do you want it in your body? Definitely not. So let’s go back to the basics of food and treat our bodies right. Our bodies are complicated metabolic machines and lots of factors go into making them healthy. And depending on how long they’ve been deranged sometimes more advance detoxes or metabolism resets are needed.

Kirsten: Do you see a lot of people who would benefit from a detox?

 Dr. Vilen: You bet. As non-surgical orthopedists, we are working with restoring health to our patients’ joints, backs and necks with their own biologics; basically getting their bodies to heal themselves. If our patients’ cells aren’t healthy, their blood is not healthy, their bone marrow is not healthy, and then the work that we are trying to do with them to correct their condition is much more difficult. Our protocol for optimal outcomes begins with a healthy lifestyle.

Americans have the highest prevalence of chronic disease in the world. A lot of time it boils down to the food we are eating. Look across the street here from Rejuv at the constant line of cars at the fast food drive through. THAT is how we’ve been programmed to eat. Drive up and drive off feeding your face with fresh fries. I know it tastes good, but there’s nothing “good” about it.

Here’s the deal; if mother nature made it, we are meant to eat it. We weren’t intended to survive on deep fried French fries or stuff we make at home out of a box. We need to eat whole foods, not half foods…foods full of gunk are junk! Cellular health depends on good nutrition. We see evidence of poor nutrition every day. If you feed your body crap, it will feel like crap. If you feed it simple, whole foods, it knows what to do with something natural.

 Kirsten: So how do you get started on a detox diet?

 Dr. Vilen: Everyone is individual so there’s no one size fits all detox for everyone. This is why we have wellness coaches at Rejuv Medical to walk you through what’s best for you.

Honestly, I wouldn’t even start with your food, I’d start with your sleep. Did you know that when your body is tired, it craves sweets? Don’t give in to the sweets – just sleep! When you sleep, you naturally detoxify. Re-programming your sleep schedule will re-set of your metabolism So get into good sleep hygiene habits and allow your body the time it needs to rest and re-set.

 Kirsten: That’s great – where does food come into the picture?

 Dr. Vilen: When it comes to eating, real food is always best. You are what you eat. I would not recommend pills or potions or shakes. I don’t believe in treating chemicals with more chemicals. What’s in that shake that you’re drinking? Do you really know? Guess what – there’s no magic pill. Just feed your body well.

Avoid dairy products like milk, yogurt and ice cream; they can be acidic and lead to poor cell function and even slow down detoxification. Alcohol is toxic to your liver and can actually reduce the levels of good detoxifying minerals such as magnesium and zinc. Steer clear of all packaged or processed products and wheat and corn-based products. Skip the sweets including sugar or sugar substitutes and high fructose corn syrup. Avoid vegetable oil as well as white starchy foods like potatoes, white rice or white bread. Read your labels. Things that look healthy aren’t always. Take yogurt for instance. Yogurt is marketed as good for you, but most yogurts are laden with sugar and additives.

Stick to lean, fresh meat, fish and protein sources like eggs, nuts and almond butter plus ample fruits and veggies, beans and seeds like chia and flax. Fruits and veggies have enzymes that help with digestion and lots of detoxifying nutrients. The higher the fiber of the foods, the better they are at pulling toxins out of our bodies. Nuts, seeds, avocado and fatty fish give us good fat-soluble vitamins that activate our brain cells and improve cell function. These foods are also high in antioxidants, minerals and vitamins which are what our body craves. Eating these good elements will replace the toxins in our cells, liver and bowels.

Please drink water. Beverage choices don’t need to be complicated – just stick with water and you’ll be good. Your body will tell you when you are giving it enough water. When your pee is clear, you’re giving it what it needs. It’s a great sign that your system is clean. Listen to your body.

Also, when you eat it matters. Eat all of your food for the day within a 12-hour window, the earlier in the day the better, and work on shrinking that window over time. That will get your gut back into its natural circadian rhythm. Every organ in your body has its own circadian rhythm and having a similar schedule day-to-day helps keep those rhythms smooth.

As I said, natural whole organic food is best, but supplementing may come into play. We recommend a combination of probiotics and fiber to help regulate the gut. Magnesium is great for cellular health, aches and pains, and can help with constipation. It is taken at night and can be very relaxing, especially if taken in liposomal form. Omega 3 is also important, and Vitamin D is a big one that Minnesotans need. Get outside when you can!

We also encourage our patients to use the infrared sauna here at Rejuv. Infrared rays penetrate into your skin deeply, dissolving harmful substances collected in your body and removing impurities from your cells, especially the cells inside our fat where our body stores waste and toxins such as heavy metals and cholesterol.

 Kirsten: So how often should someone do a detox?

 Dr. Vilen: Again, that depends on the person. Easy does it is the key. An extreme change in how you eat can be unpleasant at first. Find a balanced, achievable program that blends movement and a healthy, whole food diet. Keep in mind you are trying to create healthy, sustainable habits, not further stress your body. If you’re feeling stuck on how to get started, reach out to our team here at Rejuv. We’re happy to help.

 Kirsten: Should you detox before having a regenerative procedure?

 Dr. Vilen: That would be ideal. For our platelet rich plasma and stem cell procedures, we are carefully manipulating our patients’ own blood elements, platelets, growth factors and stem cells to go to work repairing and regenerating the areas where they are needed most. If we only have damaged or weak cells to work with, the outcomes of the procedures aren’t nearly as promising as if we start with robust, healthy, nourished cells. Not only do we need healthy cells, we need a lot of them! Absolutely a patient who has worked to detoxify his or her body is going to have a much greater chance at a successful procedure. It’s amazing how good preparation on the part of our patients helps us to obtain consistent optimal outcomes!