Four out of 10 people make New Year's Resolutions, and weight loss wins as the number one goal, reported CBS News recently. But fulfilling that resolution isn't always easy. Now a holistic physician is offering a different approach that involves detoxifying and cleansing your body. In an exclusive interview on Jan. 5, Dr. Woodson Merrell explained to me his "prescription" for health and weight loss.
Chairman of the Department of Integrative Medicine at Beth Israel Medical Center and the Executive Director of the Center for Health and Healing (CHH) in New York City, Dr. Merrell says that by following his detox program, you'll naturally shed pounds while enhancing your health. It's all detailed in his new book, which he authored with nutrition expert Mary Beth Augustin and yoga teacher Hillari Dowdle: "The Detox Prescription: Supercharge Your Health, Strip Away Pounds, and Eliminate the Toxins Within" (click for more information).
"Weight loss is a natural effect of switching off of the toxin-laden, high glycemic load, saturated fat-based diet that the vast majority of Americans consume," he says.
And your goal should be fat loss rather than weight loss.
"Rapid weight loss should not be the goal of any diet--that necessitates the body losing too much muscle--when what one wants is fat loss," he told me.
By using a plan that "allows the body to burn fat and maintain muscle," you can slim down while "attaining a beneficial fat-to-muscle ratio (BMI), which is important for health."
The "Detox Prescription" provides foods as well as exercises designed to "make this happen easily and safely," says Dr. Merrell.
How long does it take to change your taste, health and waistline?
"By the end of the 21 days (detailed in the book), the consumer will want to continue on the eating plan---not only because it is clean, delicious, satisfying and nutritious, but because it leads to maximum health and optimal weight," he said.
One key aspect of the detox diet: A three-day juice cleanse. Dr. Merrell designed it to provide a bridge to the essence of his plan: "Switching out inflammatory animal meats and refined carbohydrates and empty calories for a plant-based rainbow-colored whole foods diet floods the body with maximum nutrients."
By following his three-day juice cleanse, your body gets a rest while benefiting from "rapid assimilation of nutrients." Your digestive system gets time to repair, heal and take a break from the onslaught of the inflammatory foods and toxins that typify the Standard American Diet (SAD).
The juicing aspect of the program "eliminates the constant flood of toxins present in most conventional non-organic foods: toxins alone have been shown to promote weight gain," Dr. Merrell reveals.
While the calories during those three days are reduced, you'll benefit from "the flood of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that allows maximally efficient digestion and weight control," he said.
And you'll do more than lose weight, says Dr. Merrell. You'll find that problems that can result from an unhealthy diet, such as headaches, indigestion and fatigue, often vanish as your body heals from his detoxifying program.
Once that initial jump-start cleanse has been completed, you'll continue with a plant-based diet to build on the improvements and boost your weight loss. As for supplements?
"Let food be your medicine," says Dr. Merrell.
As an example, consider the benefits of juicing, which "provides all the nutrients that nature puts in foods---including enzymes and some of the vitamins that are destroyed in processing and cooking."
No supplement can replace the benefits of whole, natural foods, adds the doctor.
"If one eats a rainbow plant-based diet with unprocessed fresh foods (frozen fresh produce can be OK sometimes) nature will do the work: this is the core of The Detox Prescription. There is no way one can put the hundreds of health-giving phytonutrients present in each food into a pill," he said.
Dr. Merrell is concerned about what he calls our "quick-fix pill mentality." To optimize our lifestyles, we need to eat a healthy, clean diet and take a holistic approach, he says.And that means understanding the benefits of detoxifying our bodies.
"Most every cell has the capacity to eliminate toxins to a limited degree. But it is beyond the capacity of cells to handle the quantity of toxins we come in contact with on a daily basis in our air, food and water (and toxic thoughts)," he explained.
"The liver is the main organ responsible for detoxifying us---and it also cannot handle all the chemicals coming into our bodies with our food. These end up inside most every cell in our body---acting as slow (or even in some cases as rapid) poisons. The practices in The Detox Prescription help reset all of this," Dr. Merrell explained to me.
Detoxification involves two phases:
- Phase I: "Tagging toxins with enzymes called cytochromes to prepare them for elimination."
- Phase II: "Locking on a compound (called conjugators) rendering the tagged toxins harmless, as well as making them water soluble (most are only fat soluble when they enter the body) for elimination through the kidneys (mainly) and gut.
Understanding the relationship between the two phases can help you understand the synergistic aspect of the "Detox Prescription:" Because substance altered during phase one become reactive, phase two is required "to quickly quench these."
Dr. Merrell says that by following his detox diet, you can optimize the movement of toxins through your body. The result: You'll lose the weight safely and permanently while enhancing your health.