I wanted to take a moment and address some really common questions I get asked on a very frequent basis from patients that are beginning to clean up their lifestyle. We see many patients with a variety of health complaints and we start by building a solid foundation. Most of the time this involves changing the foods being eaten, increasing the amounts of clean protein, drinking more pure water, improving bowel function, addressing sleep hygiene issues and initiating an exercise program. I hope this can serve as a reminder that anytime you make changes in your life, even seemingly innocuous ones like drinking more water, you may experience some side effects as your body seeks to find a new balance. Let this put you at ease…you can never go wrong by cleaning up your diet, exercising more, staying hydrated and getting restorative sleep each night. So when you are doing these things and you start to feel “bad”, don’t get frustrated and don’t throw in the towel.
One issue that frequently arises, especially within the first week or so of cleaning up the diet, is the complaint of headaches. Headaches are common withdrawal symptoms and this can be withdrawal from caffeine, sugar, processed foods, soda water and other detrimental health habits. I have found the following things to be helpful during this time.
Ensure Proper Bowel Transit Time
Normal bowel movements occur one to two times every single day. Bowel transit time should be 18-22 hours. Alterations from this may indicate poor nutrient absorption or recirculation of toxins. Assessing bowel transit time can be done very easily with an activated charcoal transit time test. For transit times that are too fast consider adding psyllium and for transit times that are too slow consider adding magnesium citrate.
Increasing the volume of clean, pure, filtered water each day is also beneficial in helping with these effects. A good rule of thumb for water consumption is 1/2 your weight in ounces of water. Also consider adding five ounces of water for every fifteen minutes of exercise. Green tea is another great, safe, and very healthy way to help with adverse symptoms. You don’t have to worry about the caffeine in green tea (unless you are highly sensitive) because the theanine in the green tea serves as a buffer to the caffeine. Start with two cups of green tea each day and you can drink green tea either hot or cold.
Sweat It Out
There is great benefit in sweating since our skin is a large excretory organ. You can encourage sweating by exercising or by using a far infrared sauna which has great benefits and supports the body’s natural detoxification abilities.
Some individuals complain of stomach upset when taking multiple vitamins and minerals. A couple things to consider here are the timing of the doses, whether or not you are taking with or without food and the possibility of underlying gastrointestinal disturbances. By gastrointestinal disturbances I mean issues such as an infection with Helicobacter pylori. This is a bacteria that can become pathogenic and lead to a variety of health concerns including increasing risk of gastric cancer and new research even shows increased risk of neurodegenerative diseases. It may not be an infection but rather insufficient levels of either hydrochloric acid and/or pancreatic enzymes that aid in digestion. A trial of enzymes could be considered and see how well it is tolerated. Caution should be used when supplementing with betaine HCl.
When starting an exercise program many people suffer with delayed onset muscle soreness. You can consider mitochondrial support with nutrients such as coenzyme Q10, alpha lipoic acid, n-acetyl cysteine, and antioxidants. Vitamin C is also useful with relieving delayed onset muscle soreness. You may also want to consider natural muscle relaxants such as calcium, magnesium, valerian root and passion flower. Increasing doses of omega-3 fatty acids (fish oils) is also helpful. One relaxing method is to soak in a warm bath with Epsom salts and lavender essential oil. This is calming, stress-relieving and pushes magnesium into the tissues.
Hopefully this provides some information that can be useful for you on your health journey. Just maintain your diligence and keep your eyes on clearly defined health goals and objectives. The path to health is rarely linear, but will be full of ups and downs, peaks and valleys. Don’t become discouraged and use even the valley experience to learn something about your health.