Body Cleansing

Body cleansing is generally accomplished by two main methods:

  1. ‘Wash out’ done by either herbs (for example senna) or through colonic cleansing/irrigation.
  2. Fasting also known as detoxing.

‘Wash outs’ are traditionally done annually especially for children on summer holidays
and by other individuals but this can be harmful if the nutrients especially the minerals
are not replenished. Colonic cleansing is best done by a trained health professional and is
usually on request by a doctor for medical reasons.

Fasting is done for religious, cultural, health or other reasons and generally no health
professional is consulted. Detoxing however, is best done under the supervision of an
experienced health professional especially for programmes lasting more than one day.

Daily Fast/Cleansing

A daily fast is the most common method of detoxing although individuals do not
recognize it as such. Doctors will recommend a 12 hour fast before undertaking certain
blood tests such as cholesterol or fasting blood glucose. This means that if you estimate
that the test will be conducted at about 9 a.m. – 10 a.m. the following morning then your
last intake of food the night before should be 9 p.m. – 10 p.m. and no other food or drink
taken during the 12 hour interval.

As Nutritionists we feel the ideal is a natural cleanse by regular bowel movement. This
method of fasting for 12 hours practiced on a daily basis (as described above) is
recommended for healthy living. That way, the body rests from food for 12 hours each
night (overnight fast) and if the diet is high in fibre and water content, a sizable bowel
movement should occur daily, thus clearing the body of undesirable waste products.

A high fibre diet is one which consists of plant foods in their most natural and
unprocessed form. Examples are ground provisions (yam, potato, dasheen etc.), fresh
fruits and vegetables, dried peas and beans, nuts and whole grain cereals. Water intake
is dependent on individual needs but it is recommended that a minimum of 6-8 glasses
should be taken daily.

Periodic Cleansing

We appreciate that persons are exposed to thousands of toxins and chemicals on a daily
basis at work, in the home, through polluted air we breathe, our food and water supply
and through the use of pharmaceutical drugs. In addition, we are eating more sugar and
processed foods than ever before in human history and regularly abuse our bodies with
various stimulants and narcotics. As long as we continue to eat processed foods, live
with excess stress, and push ourselves beyond what is good for the body, we can never
hope to be completely toxin-free.

We can help the body greatly to eliminate toxins before they present a health challenge
with daily cleansing as indicated above. Persons who have become so clogged up as with
constipation may need to consider and artificial cleanse but the frequency of this type of
cleanse should depend on your individual health status. You are best advised to seek
individual counseling from a qualified health professional.

How to Fast/ Daytime Cleanse

Be aware, that when the toxins are released by fasting, a number of negative symptoms
may result such as nausea and acidosis. Regular physical activity is not recommended
during a fast. If the 12 hour or more fast is to cover daytime hours when you must work,
it is best not to do a total fast as the overnight fast. A water or juice fast is most popular.

Examples of juices are below:

  • Coconut water is used as the water and there should be no sweeteners
  • Other fruit juices
  • Green juices eg Callaloo are recommended for best effect – at least 1 – 2 glasses (1 glass=8 oz cup)
  • Other vegetable juices include carrot or beet
  • Aloe juice may also be used – up to 3 glasses
  • If desired, you may add to the juice ginger, garlic, leaf of life and blend.

Ensure you get adequate sleep (at least 8 hours) and stop drinking for at least 2 hours
before retiring.

Mental Health – The Nutrition Link

The important role that nutrition plays in how people behave and in the causation of mental disorders and disruptive actions is often overlooked. There are many ways that research has demonstrated the links between nutritional status and violence, irrational behavior of children and adults, learning disorders and mental diseases. The formation and proper functioning of neurotransmitters in the brain are dependent on proper nutrition so that chemical imbalances resulting in mental illness have been linked to nutritional deficiencies. In addition, a nutritionally sound body is better able to cope with the stresses of life and to demonstrate resilience, so necessary for overcoming challenges in modern society rather than succumbing to suicide or violence. In my nutrition practice spanning over 25 years, I have been seeing an increasing number of young people suffering from various mental disorders more so than in the past. These range from schizophrenia, depression, bi-polar disorders, poor self image, emaciation, to poor coping skills in school and home relationships.

Mental illnesses and some abnormal behaviors are known to have genetic links but these usually require an unfavourable environment including poor diet to manifest in various forms. Nutrient deficiencies can trigger abnormal behavior in persons who have the genetic potential and who will lack coping skills and self control. The nutrient deficiencies implicated may seem unlikely but their prevalence is now more recognized than before. For instance, deficiency of vitamin B12 can trigger neuropsychiatric damage, hallucinations and ultimately pernicious anaemia. Mood swings leading to irrational behaviour can result from low zinc and calcium levels, vitamin B6 deficiency and essential oils such as omega-3 fatty acids. Some persons on medication develop these deficiencies as a result of drug- nutrient interactions and many anti-psychotic drugs will not work optimally unless nutritional deficiencies are corrected. Some medications increase the appetite for high fat, calorie dense foods which lack micronutrients and these replace wholesome foods that would supply these everyday nutrients. The point in time at which symptoms become evident can be some time after the nutrient deficiencies began and the body is now very susceptible to even minor negative stimuli.

The foundation related to poor nutritional environment can be laid from as early as in the mother’s womb. Children exposed to nutritional deprivation in the womb and in early life will have a slower rate of development and an increased risk for developmental disorders such as autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), cognitive impairment and mental retardation. This can be as a direct result of physiological effects as well as what is termed the functional isolation. In other words, the negative demeanor and disposition of these children do not elicit nurturing responses from adults/caregivers and as a result they grow up detached and insecure. Such children often lack the drive for school work, and are poorly motivated for sports and other extra-curricular activities.

A common factor I observe in many children is poor diet, irrespective of socio-economic status. Most of these cases present with iron deficiency anaemia, calcium and zinc deficiencies and low intake of vitamins from food including A, C and B complex. Their diets consist largely of snack type foods, vendor sold meals, and ‘dry’ foods, largely because there is little structure in the households for providing balanced meals. Very little fruits, vegetables, provisions, peas and beans or other wholesome foods are eaten and in most cases, there are extremes in intake of calories from excessive to grossly deficient. Not all these children are financially in need and they may have adequate funds to eat as they choose. On the other hand, some should qualify for school feeding subsidies but are overlooked because of the types of school they attend. A recent article in the daily newspaper featured delinquent students attending the YMCA school in Kingston. One drop-out from a boys’ elite high school attributed his poor behavior and subsequent expulsion to hunger. He put it this way, “Mi no have no money for food and it make me want to do tings”. I have seen many of these cases in our primary and all age schools. Youngsters who are poorly nourished, lack the constitution that will respond favourably to efforts at building self control, resisting gang behaviour, abusing drugs, withdrawal/anti-social behaviours and ‘warring’ with other students.

Nutrition screening should therefore be a critical component of care for all children in school, for all adults undergoing mental health treatment and for at risk persons who exhibit the beginnings of anti-social behaviour. Nutrition intervention will then complement any drug or psychological interventions to ensure the total health of the population.

Written by:
RNutr. Patricia Thompson M.Sc. DMS, SNS, CMSN
Health Promotion Consultant/Consultant Nutritionist

© All rights reserved. No part of this article can be copied, reproduced or transmitted without the written permission of the author.

About Snacks

Question: I give my daughters snacks to carry to school, usually one pack of banana chips or plantain chips and that is the only snack they get for the day. Is this bad?

Response: The purpose of snacks is to make good any nutritional deficit not obtained from the meals. There is also the question of the timing of snacks relative to meals. Children eat snacks since they USUALLY have small appetites and run an energy and nutrient deficit from only 3 meals or eating episodes daily. For me to recommend suitable snacks, I would need to meet with you and them to assess their current intake to determine any deficits relative to their individual nutritional needs.

For instance, if the meals are short of calcium, then you could try yoghurt, cheese or milk – the quantities would depend on their individual needs. Fresh fruits, high in vitamins A and C such as pawpaw are good since these vitamins are also usually deficient from meals – but not necessarily so if they already take juices and vegetables containing these vitamins. The sugar content of juices would be of concern.  For iron, dried fruits such as raisins and tamarind balls are good but again quantity is important because of calorie intake. These also provide dietary fibre which is good. Also suitable for these requirements are nuts of various types.

The snacks you have named such as banana and plantain chips offer primarily carbohydrate and fat although they may also be a source of dietary fibre and phytonutrients. If calories are the deficits, then the snacks are appropriate but this depends on the salt/sodium content. It might surprise you that these snacks often have much less sodium than we consume daily from regular cooking to which we add salt such as in boiling the fresh bananas and plantains or seasoning foods. Depending on the size of the snack packs, calories can run from 150 for small one ounce packets up to 450 calories in the case of the round bun.  Eating and nutrition are very individual, so please seek professional advice.

Written by:
RNutr. Patricia Thompson M.Sc. DMS, SNS, CMSN
Health Promotion Consultant/Consultant Nutritionist

© All rights reserved. No part of this article can be copied, reproduced or transmitted without the written permission of the author.

The real cause of obesity

CASE study: Maria presented with obesity at six years old being 21 pounds over ideal weight for age. Yet she seemed to be eating ‘healthy food’.

Her mother ensured a ‘balanced’ breakfast before school, she carried cooked lunch from home to avoid the fried chicken at school, and returned home to a proper dinner at 5:00pm. She received ‘lots of vegetables and fresh juice’.

Her mother, being overly concerned that her only child should eat properly, did not allow her sweets, soft drinks, snack foods, and anything ‘bad,’ so the child started to feel deprived and left out from parties and friendships. However, the food portions of ‘healthy food’ offered were just too large relative to the child’s calorie needs. This is one form of food abuse.

Case study: Stael, at 23 years old, was 15 pounds underweight and was teased of being ‘mawga’. She wanted to gain weight. Her referring doctor gave her clearance for any health cause, but her nutrition assessment indicated low nutrient intakes and anaemia. She had a hectic job, often leaving home without eating breakfast, but would catch a bite at 10:00 am from the office tray of plantain tart, doughnut or bun.

She tried to have a ‘heavy lunch’ but had little time for it and most times just had a patty and box juice. Right after working late, she had church or other activities and grabbed a ‘coconut drops’ or other snack ‘to hold her till dinner time’. By the time she got home, she was too tired to eat and went straight to bed. Although underweight, she exhibited ‘skinny fat’ — higher body fat than expected. This is another form of food abuse.

Should we now ban all these foods to protect people from eating and getting fat?

No single food will cause or prevent obesity, but what is required is proper eating practices and a balanced approach to nutrition among the populace.

As seen from the case studies, obesity is a complex disorder with many manifestations and underlying factors along a continuum of food abuse that can range from food aversion to food addiction. Effective treatment requires thorough evaluation and intervention from qualified nutrition professionals specially trained to understand the issues.

Yet the government system has failed to recognise the need for and to utilise this valuable human resource to forestall the problem emerging years ago at the community level and in our schools. Many nutrition professionals trained by our universities since 2005 to meet the projected need cannot even receive a professional title to practice, and they have become a wasted resource while society is deprived of their expertise. This has resulted in a burgeoning obesity incidence as a public health problem, along with other diet-related disorders of diabetes, hypertension and heart diseases in children and the young and which now costs the country billions in health care dollars.

Instead, a number of stop gap measures are being proposed by many such as “to ban and tax various foods”. Such measures have been applied to alcohol addiction, drug abuse and cigarettes with little success in eliminating the problems.

Some foods are undoubtedly of low-nutrient density, but they have a role in providing cheap sources of energy for the masses. When GCT was applied to various items, many foods were exempt such as white flour, cooking oil, sugar and the like since, if properly included in the diet, can still allow for balanced nutrition. Nutrition professionals can impart the guidance and skills for all foods to be properly incorporated in the overall diet for good nutrition.

Rather than merely banning single food items, why not use the holistic approach and instead fix the flawed registration system to allow the suitably trained professionals to practise? The professional council of the Ministry of Health should implement a system to recognise and utilise the expertise of the new type of highly trained nutrition graduate from our universities. Many have already migrated to join our nurses, doctors and other health care professionals to work in more accommodating countries. Failing to act with alacrity will only result in more severe consequences.

Patricia Thompson MSc is a consultant registered nutritionist and the executive director of Jamaica Island Nutrition Network (JINN)

Debunking Nutrition Myths – Specialist Says Jamaicans Misinformed On Food

Nutrition specialist Patricia Thompson is calling for new approaches to raise public awareness and properly inform the debate on nutritional challenges in Jamaica and the wider Caribbean.

She argues that there is a serious risk of misinformation being accepted as scientific fact, especially in light of the recent thrust to educate the public in general about the benefits of fresh, wholesome agricultural produce, over processed foods.

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