Over the years, I've helped thousands of women detox their bodies in preparation for a healthy pregnancy. The transformations that take place can be life changing – as patients learn how to properly nourish themselves, a renewed sense of vigor and enthusiasm often follows. This incredible skill set will last not only the patients, but also their babies and families, a lifetime.
When a woman comes to me feeling unwell or is struggling to conceive, one of the easiest and quickest ways to get her on her way to optimal health is an elimination diet, which can remove toxins, reduce inflammation and bring a body back into balance.
Being aware of the connection between what you eat and how you feel may sound simple, but so many of us are used to being chronically over-satiated, bloated and burdened by processed foods. By eating clean and being in touch with your body, you’ll begin to develop and refine a sort of ‘food intuition.’ (Note: Before starting an elimination diet, it’s important to make a comprehensive list of health complaints, however recent or chronic the symptoms may be, so you’ll be attentive to any important changes as they occur.)
Detoxing is a remarkable way to:
• Enhance fertility and chances of conception
• Relieve stress and decrease anxiety
• Decrease side effects from fertility treatments
• Lose weight and reduce cravings
• Improve energy
• Regulate hormones and stabilize mood
• Experience vibrant skin
• Improve sleep
• Decrease pain
• Increase mental clarity
• Rebalance after postpartum
• Improve digestion
If you’re interested in shaking off the sluggish remnants of winter, ready to explore eliminating chronic health problems through eating clean, or preparing your body for a healthy baby, I invite you to bring clarity back into your life by embarking on a cleanse.
A few tips to get started:
• Prepare by shopping and cooking in advance - this will be crucial for success
• Detoxing is easier with a friend. Enlist your partner, your best friend, a coworker - anyone!
• Exercise lightly to restore strength
• Keep a food journal, noting how you feel in each entry
• Eat plenty of vegetables and add in green juices and green smoothies
• Rest is important - try to get between 8 and 10 hours of sleep during any detox
• Eat small amounts regularly throughout the day
• Use restorative yoga and meditation to support a mind-body detox
If you are considering a spring cleanse the following are the most important foods to eliminate from your diet:
• Sugar – Highly addictive and connected to ovulatory disorders, infertility and hormonal imbalance
• Soy – Contains toxic phytochemicals that can disrupt endocrine and thyroid function
• Gluten – Exacerbates auto-immune issues and causes inflammation; triggers celiac disease and digestive issues
• Dairy – Common allergen that increases mucus and may contribute to cyst formation and immune dysfunction; often contains steroids, antibiotics and pesticides
• Corn – Almost all sweet corn is genetically modified and could negatively impact fertility
• Alcohol – Studies find as few as four drinks a week are associated with a decrease in IVF success
• Caffeine – May increase risk of miscarriage and contribute to adrenal fatigue
This modified elimination detox will move you towards a whole foods diet free of processed foods. It is ideal to remove these foods for a minimum of three weeks, which gives your body enough time to reset its immunity and for you to feel the maximum benefit. If you are feeling great after three weeks, you may continue eating this way for as long as you’d like. However, if you’re interested in uncovering hidden food sensitivities, start adding items from one of the eliminated foods back in, one at a time (for example, gluten), and pay very close attention to how you feel.
If after three days you don’t have a reaction, move on to reintroducing items from the next eliminated food. If what you’ve added provokes a reaction (which can show up hours or even days after the culprit has been ingested), you now know of a potential food sensitivity. Be sure to return to the elimination diet for at least three days before moving on. If you are considering starting a family soon, I suggest maintaining the elimination diet for at least three months before trying to conceive or beginning fertility treatments.
I understand how difficult making these changes can be. Recently, a patient and I co-wrote an article that touched on how challenging her journey to change her diet was. During a detox, your body will release stored up toxins and you may experience anything from headaches and irritability, to fatigue and mild flu-like symptoms. Rest assured they typically only last a few days to a week, and afterwards, you’ll be left with the health benefits that eating well and cleansing your body have to offer.
Detoxing is appropriate for everyone, but make sure to start at the beginning -- wherever that may be for you. If the elimination suggestions describe your regular way of eating, try juice fasting or more advanced cleansing programs. If an elimination diet sounds impossible, start with removing foods like sugar, dairy and gluten from your diet. Wherever your starting point may be, honor that and begin laying the foundations for greater health and enhanced fertility today.
The blissful feelings of renewal and restoration that follow a detox can be difficult to describe, but I’m confident the results will speak for themselves as you set your intentions for a spring full of health and vitality.
Happy detoxing! (Note: If you suffer from a serious medical condition, are currently pregnant or breastfeeding, please make sure to consult with your healthcare provider before making any dietary changes.)