Restore Your Health: Nutrients In & Toxins Out

By Cate Reade, MS, RD, SFS ~

Just like the three little pigs chose different materials to build their homes, every day we choose foods to build our permanent home, our body. Some choices are definitely better than others. Food is information that influences health from head to toe.

As we all know from the fairytale, the homes made of straw and sticks were easily blown down by the furious wolf. Obviously, not the best choices! We can think of those homes as the Standard American Diet (It’s acryonym is even “SAD!”): high in processed carbohydrates and sugar and low in fat and health-promoting nutrients.

In an effort to reduce diet-related conditions like diabetes and heart disease, the first US Dietary Guidelines in 1977 recommended we eat more carbohydrates like bread, pasta and rice and avoid fat like the plague. We were all convinced that ‘fat makes you fat.’ I remember teaching nutrition classes with people being deathly afraid to eat an avocado.

Unfortunately, those dietary guidelines were based on flawed science. Today, we are sicker and fatter than ever before. An astounding two-thirds of adults are overweight and obese and chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes and dementia are the number one cause of disability and death [1, 2].

It’s understandable why we are so confused about what we should be eating to live a long and healthy life. Every day we are bombarded with conflicting nutrition information. Each nutrition expert sounds so credible and often cites research to back up their claims.

“Buyased” Research
Anyone who has done research knows that you can find studies to support whatever side of the fence you are sitting on. Some research is cherry-picked and some is bought and paid for by the food industry looking to support a specific claim. Dr. David Friedman, author of the book Food Sanity calls this “BUYASED” research! When searching for the truth, check who funded the study. Was it a neutral third party like the National Institutes of Health or an industry interested in a specific result?

It still begs the question, “What are we supposed to eat?” Just like the oldest pig who took time to build his house from bricks, we can explore the common science and use common sense to build a strong body that will stand the test of time. Let’s start by taking a look at what the healthiest and longest living people on the planet are eating, shall we?

Happy & Healthy
The Blue Zones consist of five regions across the globe where people live vibrantly and well into their tenth decades. They stay active and engaged with family, friends and the larger community which contributes majorly to their health and longevity. But what foods are they eating? Drum roll please…they eat real, whole food, consuming mostly plants with small amounts of meat, grains and dairy.

Looking back a few hundred thousand years, our ancestral diet was approximately 35% fat; 35% carbohydrates and 30% protein. Fifty percent of the carbohydrates came from uncultivated vegetables and fruit. Today we eat a mere 16% of our calories from vegetables [3]. Not a good time to be a minimalist!

Vegetables are King
Of all the foods, vegetables provide the broadest range of nutrients and highest quantities of health-protective phytochemicals and fiber. Science and every health expert agree that we need to eat more vegetables. Finally, some consensus! (And validation of Grandma’s inner wisdom!)

Blue Zones around the globe consume a diet of mostly vegetables, fruit, legumes, plant fats like olive oil, wholegrains like brown rice and small amounts of meat and dairy. Plant foods supply a vast array of vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, protein and fiber needed for the body’s 60-70 trillion cells to produce energy and work well.

Vitamins and minerals are critical for enzymes to ignite the thousands of chemical reactions that occur in the body every second. Enzymes are like the spark plugs in your car. Nutrient deficiencies and toxins impair their function and we end up inflamed, fatigued and unwell.

Fabulous Fiber
Only found in plant food, fiber functions to lower: inflammation, cholesterol, constipation, heart disease and varicose veins! Fiber feeds the microbiome and plays a crucial role in detoxification by binding up toxins in the gut and eliminating them in the stool. Our ancestors consumed upward of 100 grams per day while today we are eating half of the recommended amount of 30 grams [4].

Consuming more fiber is more important than ever as we are living in an environmental soup of toxins coming from the air, water, food, household chemicals and personal hygiene products. (Visit the Environmental Working Group website to learn more.)

Go Organic
Choose organic foods whenever possible. Conventionally grown foods, especially GMOs (genetically modified organisms) are loaded with pesticides. According to Dr. Joseph Pizzorno, author of The Toxin Solution, the greatest threat to health today is the toxic burden we are all carrying. He estimates that 60% of the toxins we are exposed to come from the foods we eat. If you can’t always afford organic, check to avoid the “Dirty Dozen;” twelve fruits and vegetables loaded with the most pesticides.

Dr. Pizzorno’s mantra is, “Nutrients in & toxins out!” Eating this way, builds a strong foundation to get and stay well. Toxic chemicals place an extra burden on the body by creating inflammation, displacing vitamins and minerals and poisoning enzymes. Consuming food with high levels of toxins is like building a flimsy house made from straw. It’s a home, but a weak one.

The Solution to Pollution is Dilution
Drinking lots of high-quality filtered water will help flush toxins out and keep you “regular.” This is especially important as you increase your fiber intake. Fiber helps prevent constipation to move waste out of the colon quickly and prevents the reabsorption of toxins.

Try to consume about half of your body weight in ounces of water each day. A person weighing 150 pounds should try drinking 75 ounces. Drink the majority of water between meals. This prevents the dilution of stomach acid for better digestion.

Drink Filtered Water
Reverse osmosis is one of the best filtering choices to remove the chlorine, fluoride, heavy metals like lead and pharmaceuticals that are found in our water supply. Check out to see results of independent tests and choose a filtration system that is right for you.

Take Action & Reap the Benefits
Be adventurous and explore colorful and nutrient-rich vegetables, filling your plate with them; shop at Farmer’s markets or join a local farm share; keep a food journal and note what and how you ate, your mood, energy and blood sugar levels. No one diet is ideal for everyone but the template below can serve to help guide you to consume more vitamins, minerals and fiber from vegetable sources.

Practice Daily:

1. Eat the Rainbow
◦ Vegetables: 5-7 servings (especially dark green leafies!)
◦ Fruit: 2- 3 servings
◦ Use spices and herbs liberally
◦ Shop at farmer’s markets, join a local farm share or grow your own!
2. Choose Organic
◦ Lowers toxic body burden
3. Healthy Fats
◦ Olive, avocado and coconut oil; grass-fed butter
4. Clean Protein
◦ Wild-caught fish, pasture raised poultry & eggs, grass-fed meats: palm of hand size
◦ Legumes: 2 tablespoons – 1 cup
◦ Nuts & seeds: 1 handful
5. High-Quality Filtered Water
◦ Drink half your body weight in ounces of water
◦ Drink between meals
◦ Drink 8 ounces of lemon water when you wake up

Remember, the oldest and wisest pig didn’t mind hard work when he built his house from bricks. He reaped the benefits from living in a strong house and you can too! Start by taking one small step at a time. Get into a routine, as you feel better, take another small step and build another new habit. Reversing disease with diet takes time, effort and commitment but you’re worth it!

[1] CDC, “Health and Economic Costs of Chronic Diseases.”

[2] CDC, “Obesity and Overweight.”

[3] Eaton, SB., 2006. The ancestral human diet: what was it and should it be a paradigm for contemporary nutrition? Proc Nutr Society; Feb;65(1):1-6.

[4] Quagliani, D. & Felt-Gunderson, P., 2015. Closing America’s Fiber Intake Gap. Amer Journal of Lifestyle Medicine.

Cate Reade

Cate Reade

Cate Reade, MS, RD, SFS, is a Senior Fitness Expert and Functional Medicine Practitioner candidate who will listen to you. She is driven to help seniors regain mobility, confidence and independence safely, quickly and efficiently with her innovation, the MoveMor™ Mobility Trainer and personalized training and lifestyle programs. If you are a community or business interested in delivering greater health and mobility success to the people you serve, let’s talk! Contact Cate at 303.515.7070; or

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