Environment Canada is predicting a hotter than normal summer this year, which is welcome news for some. But for others, the heat and humidity is to be dreaded. Why? Because when environmental heat starts to cook our bodies, we find ourselves boiling over with anger, irritability, hot flashes, insomnia, skin rashes, and high blood pressure.
Thankfully, there are numerous strategies available to turn down our inner heat and maximize enjoyment of the season. With the right tools, summer can be a wonderful time for easy detoxing to cool the fires of inflammation while cleansing tissues and accelerating weight loss.
What follows is a summary of nutritional strategies that I have used for removing ‘toxic heat’ and increasing my comfort level in summer. Organized to meet you where you are on the health spectrum, these strategies start with Step One for beginners, Step Two for those who want to go further, and finish with Step Three for readers who are ready to go all the way. The one thing to remember is take it slow – gradual change is far healthier for the body than sudden, drastic alterations to one’s lifestyle.
Step One – Reduce Meat and Bad Fats
The most basic step for those wanting to remove inflammation and toxic “heat” from the body is to reduce or eliminate meat. This isn’t easy, considering that summer is barbecue season, a time when beef, pork, and chicken can be found roasting on the grill in every back yard. Unfortunately, charred meat creates inflammation and acidity in the body, along with increased blood pressure and cholesterol, bowel congestion, smelly sweat, and increased risk of cancer. So ditching the burgers and learning to love grilled, baked, boiled, or raw vegetables goes a long way towards keeping the body cool, alkaline, and comfortable all summer.
Another key part of Step One is to do an oil change. Specifically, make the switch to high quality fats and oils which work to clear inflammation, lubricate tissues, and nourish cells. Naturopath Sat Dharam Kaur says numerous studies demonstrate the effectiveness of flax seed oil in preventing or slowing the growth of breast and colon cancer.
And there’s a fascinating new oil on the market called Ahiflower®, made from seeds of the Ahi plant. Apparently, it is the “richest combined Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acid source found in nature,” making it a great vegan alternative to fish oil. This oil can be used in any recipe that calls for flax seed, olive, or sunflower oil (however it’s not to be used for cooking).
Here are two recipes to get you started experimenting with Ahiflower® oil:
QUINOA WITH YELLOW BEANS AND RED PEPPERS (Makes 4 servings)
- 1 cup quinoa
- 1½ cups yellow beans
- 1 Tbsp chopped parsley
- 1½ cups water
- 1 vegetable bouillon cube
- 1 Tbsp coconut oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 red pepper, diced
- 8 oz package button mushrooms
- 1 yellow pepper and 1 orange pepper, diced
- ¼ cup flax oil
- ½ tsp Ahiflower® oil
Rinse the quinoa and place in a small pot with the beans, water, and the bouillon cube. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover the pot, and cook for 15 minutes.
While the quinoa is cooking, heat the coconut oil in a large pot and add the onion and chopped mushrooms. Stir-fry these for about 5 minutes. Add the peppers and cook and stir until soft, another 10 minutes.
Add the cooked quinoa/beans combo to onion/peppers and combine well. Remove from heat and stir in the flax and Ahiflower® oil and half the parsley, if desired. Divide among 4 plates and garnish with the remaining parsley. Serve at once.
KALE SLAW WITH FRESH TURMERIC ROOT
- 1 bunch purple kale (about 12 stalks), washed and dried
- 2 stalks celery, halved lengthwise, cut diagonally into strips
- 2 carrots, grated
- 1 red pepper, cut in thin strips
- ½ red onion, cut into slivers
- ½ cup basil leaves, packed
- ¼ cup unseasoned brown
- rice vinegar
- ¼ cup flax seed oil
- ½ tsp Ahiflower oil
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2 tsp sriracha sauce
- ½ tsp sea salt
- 4 fresh turmeric roots, peeled
Grasping the leaf portion of the kale, pull away and discard the stems. Stack the leaves and slice crosswise into very thin strips. Place in a large bowl along with celery, carrot, red pepper, and onion.
Place the basil, vinegar, flax and Ahiflower oils, garlic, sriracha and salt in a blender and process until smooth. Pour over the vegetables in the bowl and mix thoroughly. Divide among 4 plates. Grate 1 turmeric root over each salad and serve.
Step Two – Introduce More Raw Foods
Leslie Kenton, author of The Raw Energy Bible, advocates eating 50 to 75% of our foods raw. She believes that this can bring natural weight loss without dieting, rejuvenate the body in measurable ways, heighten energy, and bring greater mental clarity. Most importantly, raw food has a cooling effect on the body, which works to douse the fires of inflammation. According to Kenton, “A living salad is the epitome of nutritional quality for ensuring fat loss.” Here are two raw recipes from her book:
GREEK DELIGHT PLUS
This is a new twist on a classic Greek salad, with extra protein added in the form of feta cheese.
- 4 inch piece of cucumber
- ½ to 1 cup feta cheese (or grilled tempeh)
- 1 or 2 medium tomatoes
- 1 dozen black olives
- 3 cups fresh alfalfa sprouts
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 3 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp virgin olive or flax seed oil
- Fine ground black pepper
Chop the cucumber, feta cheese, and tomatoes into small pieces. Mix them together in a bowl with the black olives.
Mix dressing ingredients together in a screw-top jar by shaking them. Pour dressing over the salad and toss. Then arrange on a bed of alfalfa sprouts and serve on a platter.
DEVIL’S BEET SALAD
Raw beetroot is a remarkable aid for detoxification; it’s also an excellent source of vitamin C and minerals. And beets are delicious – particularly combined with fresh apples. Once you taste raw beets, you will wonder how you could ever eat this red root vegetable cooked.
- 3 raw beetroots
- 3 green apples
- 3 white radishes
- 2 Tbsp flax seed oil
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp Meaux mustard
- 3 Tbsp chopped parsley
- 4 spring onions, chopped
- 1 tsp vegetable bouillon powder
- pinch ground black pepper
Grate the beetroots, apples, and radishes, preferably in a food processor, then mix together in a bowl. Put the dressing ingredients in a screw-top jar and shake. Pour dressing over the salad and toss.
Step Three – Raw Juicing
David Gouveia and Mano McNabb, founders of Nonpareil Natural Health Retreat, believe that juice fasting is the best way to achieve a high level of wellness while losing weight and turning back the clock.
Since juicing is a powerful antidote to inflammation, it can work effectively to not only prevent disease but also reverse the disease process and aid recovery. Leaders in the health movement, such as the Hippocrates Institute and Gerson Institute, would agree. In fact, the Gerson Institute’s website states: “[Juice fasting] is a powerful, natural treatment that boosts the body’s own immune system to heal cancer, arthritis, heart disease, allergies, and many other degenerative diseases. Dr. Max Gerson developed the Gerson Therapy in the 1930s, initially as a treatment for his own debilitating migraines, and eventually as a treatment for degenerative diseases such as skin tuberculosis, diabetes, and most famously, cancer.”
I find that the biggest challenge with this approach is the time and effort it takes to shop for organic ingredients, blend or juice them, and make sure they are consumed immediately. This problem is solved at Nonpareil, where guests relax and take it easy while the proprietors take care of them. Says Mano McNabb, “When our guests are in an environment where there are no distractions and they are being served, they feel totally cared for and nourished. They also comment on how quickly they see improvement on all levels – physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.”
To give you a taste of the recipes created by Nonpareil, here is a list of formulas try at home. Says Mano, “In our more than 20 years of hosting year-round organic cleansing and fasting retreats, we’ve found that our guests are amazed at how easy juice fasting is to do.”
(Ed. note: It’s safe to do juice fasting at home for a day or two, but for longer periods it’s recommended to be under the care of experts.)
Morning Tonic: The morning at Nonpareil starts with one cup of hot water to which is added the juice of half a lemon, one tablespoon of organic apple cider vinegar (ACV), one tablespoon of organic maple syrup, and two dashes of cayenne pepper. This drink, taken on an empty stomach, works to alkalinize the body, stimulate the bowels, and boost the circulatory system.
Key ingredient: Organic Unpasteurized Apple Cider Vinegar helps to rid the body of toxic wastes while improving digestion and strengthening the heart. It is especially recommended for arthritic conditions (uric acid crystals tend to collect in the bursae and joints of the body resulting in arthritis and bursitis. To flush uric acid crystals out, take 1 to 2 tsp of ACV with 1 to 2 tsp of raw honey in a glass of distilled water, 3 times a day. Joints will become elastic and flexible).
Nonpareil Sunrise: After a yoga class, guests receive a drink called the Nonpareil Sunrise – an entire watermelon is juiced and poured into glasses. This works to gently cleanse the kidneys and bladder. The watermelon is cool and refreshing, and rich in lycopene, potassium, and enzymes.
Nonpareil’s Afternoon Vegetable Drink
In the afternoon, guests are treated to a fresh vegetable drink to keep blood sugar stable and energy high.
- 1 sliver of garlic
- 1 piece of ginger, the size of 2 quarters
- ½ of a green apple
- 5 sprigs of parsley
- 1 kale leaf
- 2 stalks of celery
- ¼ of a beetroot
- 2 carrots
Blend and drink.
Key ingredients: Carrots are high in vitamins and minerals. Their calcium and magnesium tones the intestinal walls and strengthens bones and teeth. The vitamin A and C in carrots nourishes skin, hair, and nails. Most importantly, carrots have a tonic and cleansing effect on the liver, helping it to release stale bile and excess fats.
Beets and beet greens have an abundance of chlorophyll, vitamins A and C, and alkaline minerals such as calcium and potassium. Beets are powerful cleansers and builders of blood, and they nourish the liver and cleanse the kidneys.
Parsley has a high content of chlorophyll, vitamins, and minerals. It’s an excellent cleanser for the blood, kidneys, liver, and urinary tract.
Nonpareil’s Vegetable Drink
This dense drink is as filling as a meal. At the same time, it is nourishing and easy to digest. (Makes one cup.)
- ⅓ glass of almond or rice milk
- 1 Tbsp flax seed oil
- 1 Tbsp unpasteurized apple cider vinegar
- 2 capsules of acidophilus (open capsules, empty into drink)
- 1 banana or mango, or ¼ avocado
- 1 handful of organic sunflower sprouts
- 1 tsp of powdered spirulina
- 1 oz of liquid chlorophyll
- 1 Tbsp of rice protein powder
Put all ingredients into blender, blend thoroughly, and drink immediately.
Key ingredients: Flax seed oil is an excellent source of anti-cancer and phytoestrogenic compounds known as lignans. Flax seed oil is also a great source of omega-3 fats – a deficiency of which can result in fatigue, dry skin, cracked nails, thin and breakable hair, constipation, immune system malfunction, aching joints, depression, arthritis, and hormone imbalances.
Spirulina, a blue-green vegetable plankton, contains the highest protein and beta carotene levels of all the green superfoods, and is a rich source of GLA (gamma linolenic acid), a popular fatty acid with numerous health benefits.
Chlorophyll is a green, protein-rich compound found in the leaves of plants and in grass. It is an excellent healer and cleanser, which works as a natural deodorizer to sweeten the breath and the sweat. It is also an effective rejuvenator and builder of blood cells. For a refreshing pick-me-up, try a glass of water with a splash of chlorophyll and sprig of mint.
Organic sunflower sprouts are a complete food abundant in vitamins E, B complex, and D, plus chlorophyll and minerals. They are also high in a digestible form of protein.
NOTES AND CAVEATS:
1) Before you undertake a cleansing regimen, clear your liver and kidneys. This is important: if a cleansing diet starts flushing toxins from the tissues, those toxins need a pathway to leave the body. If all pathways are blocked, then toxins will start to re-circulate in the blood, causing nausea and headaches. To flush the liver and kidneys, add turmeric (or curcumin) to your diet, along with magnesium, a B vitamin complex, and vitamin C (3,000 mg/day). For a detailed article by Dr. Sat Dharam Kaur, ND, on clearing detoxification pathways, check out http://bit.ly/xRvwvM
2) Strengthen and clear your bowels. I found this out the hard way one year during a fasting retreat (after I stupidly had a root canal done). I had been taking antibiotics and painkillers for a few days after the dental work, and as a result was very constipated when I arrived at the retreat. By the second day of fasting I felt horrible. This was an unhealthy situation caused by waste matter leaking through the gastrointestinal walls because it couldn’t get out through the bowels. The problem was subsequently cleared up with colonic irrigation (a procedure that flushes water through the intestines to clear out stubborn waste matter; see page 57), followed by probiotics to restore friendly bowel bacteria which gets the plumbing humming.
3) Pay attention to your body. According to Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez, MD who spent many years curing cancer at his clinic in New York, some body types are more suited to vegetarian diets, and others are suited to meat-based diets. So be mindful of your body’s response during any dietary changes.
4) Break a sweat. In summer, breaking a sweat is an easy way to accelerate tissue cleansing and clear inflammation. Doing yoga or tai chi outdoors, or going for a brisk walk on a hot day, may be all it takes to get the sweat glands working overtime. With increased sweating, toxins are expelled through the skin, which in turn takes some of the burden off the liver and kidneys. After your exercise session, take a cool shower to wash away the heavy metals and other toxins that have been released through the skin.