It’s hard to pick up a newspaper, log onto the Internet, or watch TV without learning about some new environmental hazard to our health. Every day, I read new reports of pesticides, toxins, insecticides, and industrial chemicals making their way into our bodies. What kind of future are we building for ourselves?

Toxins and Fat

The liver is your body’s filter, charged with neutralizing everything from the waste products of daily metabolism to the ever-increasing load of toxins from our air, water, food, cosmetics, and workplace. One of the most serious results of an overstressed or toxic liver is that it becomes bogged down and can’t fully metabolize fat. As a result, it dumps fat and cholesterol back into the bloodstream. Not only does this put you at risk for numerous health problems including indigestion, fatigue, high cholesterol, depression, mood swings, arthritis, and other autoimmune conditions, but a toxic liver also creates disastrous results for your skin, often leaving you with blotchy patches and rashes.

Meanwhile your colon, which is designed to eliminate both natural bodily wastes and toxins, is laboring under a double strain. If you’re not getting enough fiber—and most Americans aren’t—your colon doesn’t have the support it needs. An overworked colon means that toxins and bile (a crucial substance produced by the liver) can sit in your gut too long. Eventually your body reabsorbs the toxins and sends them back to the liver once again.

Wastes left in the colon can harden and create impactions that cause the lower bowel to expand, resulting in added pounds and inches to the abdominal area. That’s not fat: It’s leftover food and waste products. A toxic liver and clogged colon will sabotage a healthy eating plan faster than a double-dip ice cream cone!

Living in a toxic world is probably the biggest single obstacle to losing weight. When our bodies are assaulted by so many pesticides, petroleum-based fertilizers, and environmental pollutants (not to mention additives, preservatives, antibiotics, and synthetic hormones), that’s bad for our health. And it makes it much harder to lose weight and keep it off.

Don't Diet Without Detox

Losing weight without cleansing may weaken our defenses against toxic chemicals and environmental pollutants. As fat melts away, it releases toxins that have been stored in our bodies, putting us at risk for new health problems, even as losing those extra pounds solves some of the old ones. That’s why it’s important to prepare to fast for at least one week.

Get Ready

Eat one serving daily of each of the following liver-loving foods:

  • cabbage family veggies: one-half cup cooked or one cup raw broccoli, broccoli sprouts, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower
  • leafy greens and fresh herbs: one-half cup cooked or one cup raw beet green, chard, cilantro, collards, dandelion greens, kale, parsley, watercress
  • citrus: one orange or the juice of one lemon or lime
  • sulfur-rich foods: one-quarter cup daikon radish, two eggs (preferably organic), at least one clove garlic, one-half cup cooked onions
  • liver healers: one small cooked artichoke, one-half cup cooked asparagus or beets, two medium stalks celery, one to two cups dandelion root tea, one to two teaspoons nutritional yeast flakes, one to two scoops whey.

Also prepare your lower gastrointestinal tract with at least two of the following foods: one small raw apple, carrot, or pear (organic with skin); one cup berries; two to three tablespoons ground or milled flaxseeds; one to two teaspoons powdered psyllium husks in eight ounces of water.

Every day for this week, drink half your body weight daily in ounces of filtered water, and enjoy at least two servings (the size of the palm of your hand) of protein (lean and preferably organic beef, skinless chicken, lamb, or turkey); wild-caught fish; or if you’re vegetarian, at least two tablespoons of blue-green algae or spirulina. Make sure you get one to two tablespoons of high-quality essential fatty acids daily, such as black currant/flaxseed oil or organic olive oil.

Avoid other fats from processed foods, sugar and artificial sweeteners, refined carbs, and gluten from most breads and baked goods. Also stay away from alcohol, caffeine, and over-the-counter drugs. Once you can support your body this way for one week, you’re ready for a brief juice fast.

One-Day Detox

If you’re healthy, neither pregnant nor nursing, not underweight, or not prone to an eating disorder, a one-day juice fast will not only help support detoxification but also may jump-start weight loss. In The Fast-Track Detox Diet, I recommend alternating water throughout the day with Miracle Juice, which is diluted unsweetened cranberry juice plus fresh-squeezed orange and lemon juices, spices, and stevia to taste. First thing in the morning of your one-day fast and at the end of the day, take two to three tablespoons ground or milled flaxseed (mixed in water or Miracle Juice).

Try to get a little light exercise—either walking or bouncing on a rebounder—on your fast day. Pay attention to your breathing and meditate. Write in your journal, read a great book, or nap if you feel tired. Weigh yourself at the end of the day: You may be happily surprised!

Seal in the Results

Now that you’ve taken your body to the cleansers, go back to your get-ready diet for at least three days. Start to restore beneficial bacteria to your gastrointestinal tract by eating organic saukerkraut and yogurt with live and active cultures each day, or take probiotics. Most important: make an effort to include more organic foods in your diet on a regular basis. What’s the point of getting all those toxins out of your system only to load up on them again?


Ann Louise Gittleman, Ph.D., C.N.S.

Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, is a New York Times award-winning author of 30 books on detox, health, and healing, including the international bestselling Fat Flush Plan and Zapped! Visit her blog and join her online Fat Flush Community.