As an expert in the field of cleansing, I continuously hear that protein, and specifically animal protein, must be avoided for an effective fast or bodily
cleanse. I do respect that fasting using only water (and more recently only vegetable juice and water) is a cornerstone of both physical and spiritual
healing that dates from ancient times. However, might it be possible that due to our current toxic ways of living, fasting without taking in the amino acids
available in animal protein doesn't supply our bodies with enough resources to address the biochemical needs of a comprehensive detoxification?
clinical work, I have personally witnessed many people become sicker when they fast on water and/or vegetable juice only.
In this newsletter, I will propose that taking in protein, and specifically animal protein, may increase the therapeutic value of a detoxification fast or
What do we know about detoxification and bodily cleansing?
We know that few clinical studies have been done in humans on the detoxification process. Specifically, there is a lack of research on which nutrients are
associated with which detoxification pathways.
We know that in the liver, there are two main pathways of detoxification
known as phase I and phase II detoxification
. In phase I,
, or toxins, undergo
chemical reactions which use oxygen to form a reactive, thus harmful, site on the toxin's molecular structure. This new intermediary metabolite must then
undergo a phase II
reaction, which results in the addition of a water-soluble group to the reactive site. The result is a compound that is now able to be
excreted in the urine, bile, or stool. [Liska, D.J. The detoxification enzyme systems. Altern Med Rev. 1998; 3(3):187-198.
In other words, during the process of removing toxins from our bodies, the initial step of detoxification actually makes this material MORE toxic in order to remove it from our bodies.
We know that these detoxification pathways require nutrient cofactors
, or substances used in an
organism's metabolism which must be taken in from its environment. These nutrient cofactors are essential for proper detoxification. A phase II
detoxification pathway can either be underfunctioning or overfunctioning. When phase II is not functioning well and/or detoxification demands are increased
as in a fast or cleanse, your amino acid requirements are increased. For example, in order to clear the body of pesticides, lead, mercury, cadmium, and
petroleum distillates, our liver needs an available and ample store of the amino acids cysteine, glutamine, glycine, and methionine to be able to excrete
these toxins from the body.
[Liska, D., Lyon, M. et al. Detoxification and biotransformational imbalances. Textbook of Functional Medicine (Ed-Jone DS). The
Institute for Functional Medicine, Gig Harbor USA, 2005.]
It is interesting to note here that when phase II of the liver isn't functioning properly, one is likely to become chemically sensitive. The National
Institute of Environmental Health Sciences defines multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS)
as a "chronic, recurring disease caused by a person's inability
to tolerate an environmental chemical." MCS is a severe and chronic case of the detoxification pathways not functioning properly. I was chemically
sensitive for 8 years. I no longer have chemical sensitivities. I healed from chemical sensitivities, in part, by eating a tremendous amount of animal
protein. I would eat 2 to 3 pounds of rare meat daily. I have been completely free of my chemical sensitivities now for over 5 years.
Animal protein? Really?
Is it possible that dietary animal protein could appropriately be considered "the most valuable dietary player" for our detoxification
Amino acids are "building blocks of proteins." Essential amino acids
are so called
because the body does not synthesize them on its own, making it essential to include them in one's diet in order to acquire them. Only animal protein
possesses the eight essential amino acids in the quantities and proportions necessary to accomplish the healing process.
Though some people argue that one can get the essential amino acids by combining various plant sources of protein, dependence on plant sources alone
essential amino acids like cysteine, glutamine, glycine, and methionine is problematic
for a number of reasons:
- Many plant sources of protein contain such small quantities
of protein in comparison to their carbohydrate content that
one would have to ingest an excessive amount of carbohydrate
foods just to ingest enough essential amino acids.
- Many people are not able to digest protein very well.
Depending on only plant sources of protein to get therapeutic
amounts of certain amino acids often overloads your
system with toxic nutrients. For example, if you rely on
nuts and seeds as a primary protein source, you are altering
your body's ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 fats, creating
an imbalance. This imbalance of omega 3 to omega 6 fatty
acids is now known to cause many health problems.
- Due to the amount of stress most of us are under in the
modern world, our livers are being excessively taxed. The
amino acids l-methionine, l-glutathione, and l-glutamine,
all of which are found in abundance in animal protein, need
to be consumed in therapeutic amounts. Without animal
protein in your diet, it is very difficult to do this.
As is stated in the article, What Are the Essential Elements Needed for the Determination of Amino Acid Requirements in Humans?
[Peter Fürst and Peter
Stehle, Journal of Nutrition], "...the requirements for many essential amino acids turned out to be considerably higher..." and "amino acid
requirements today represent one of the most complex and controversial fields of research. Because amino acid imbalances
and antagonisms remain a major puzzle in understanding pathogenesis of disease, a joint concerted attack unraveling these problems may shed light on the
secrets of the regulation of protein and amino acid metabolism, in health and disease."
What are some quality sources of these crucial amino acids for detoxification?
The key to acquiring healthy meat is to seek out grass-fed animal products from a local farmer who is raising the animals,
and to develop a relationship with
him or her to make sure that you can be certain of how the animals are raised. In such a situation, you might not have to be concerned about government organic
certification, but rather have the farmer let you know about the organic status of the individual farm. Unfortunately, most
natural food stores don't sell grass-fed meats. Their beef is only marginally better than commercial meats.
Following are some good online resources:
Grass-fed beef and other
farm-raised meat products
Organic, free-range eggs
or animal collagen, is an inexpensive healing protein source high in the needed amino acids for detoxification. It is low in tryptophan, which is
the amino acid that interferes with the thyroid hormones, making it a more therapeutic animal protein source than others for those with hypothyroidism,
chronic fatigue, cancer, or fibromyalgia. Gelatin can be used in juice as a meal drink or made into "Jello" with juice as a snack food.
Here is an excellent fasting recipe
that contains 12 grams of protein per cup. Great Lakes Unflavored Gelatin is very high in glycine and methionine, which
are crucial for detoxification.
Makes about 4 cups:
- 1 thermos - 34 oz.
- 3½ cups of water
- 1 tbsp. coconut oil
- 4-8 tbsp. Great Lakes Gelatin
- 1 slice of fresh ginger
- 2 bags of organic green or licorice tea
Heat up 3 cups of water with the slice of ginger and just bring to a boil. While the water is about to boil, mix the gelatin in the remaining ½ cup of
water in a large pyrex measuring cup or a bowl. Put the coconut oil in the thermos. When the water is boiled, add to the gelatin mix and stir until
dissolved, then add the tea bags and place lid. Let it steep for at least 10 minutes. It will stay hot for at least 6 hours. Drink the tea through the
* The rule of thumb I use is 2 tbsp. of gelatin to 1 cup of water.
Regardless of how healthy you think you are, NEVER fast without significant cofactor nutrient support:
the synthetic chemical toxin load in human fat and
muscle today is much greater than that which even a healthy body can handle.
To learn more about using animal proteins to heal and detoxify your body,
read my book, Ten Days to Optimal Health
. The program laid out
in this book has been developed to assist the liver and the body's detoxification pathways not only to remove toxins safely but also to rebuild the body.
(For example, it is possible to be a healthy vegetarian and follow this plan, but you will need to consume the right quantities of protein from both raw,
grass-fed milk and pasture-raised raw eggs. Additionally, some people will need the 2-3 pounds of rare meat that I needed daily while others will do well with
2 raw eggs daily.)