by: Elysia Arseneau
[This is Part Six of the series called My BCB Journey.]
When I was at the Faculty of Education, only one professor told us an accurate reality of the teaching profession. After 5 years of weekly migraines and bi-weekly colds, crying at my desk as soon as the students left the classroom, and 70+ hour workweeks with seemingly no dents in my paperwork, I left classroom teaching for greener pastures in the corporate world.
Removing the most stressful thing from my life, a career that didn’t match my personality and skillset, greatly improved my mental and physical health. But there was still much work to be done. I decided to use NutriChem’s Body Chemistry Balancing Test, also known as the BCB, to assess my body’s biochemistry. My clinician then designed me a Custom Formula based on my body’s needs, and made lifestyle recommendations to help me live my life to the fullest.
My Custom Formula is a multivitamin and mineral supplement that was designed specifically for my needs based on the results of my BCB Test. I started taking mine 12 days ago, and am already seeing improvements:
I love taking my Custom Formula not only because it’s been designed just for me, but also because it’s a high-quality supplement that contains the most absorbable forms of everything it contains. In addition, my Custom Formula has reduced the number of supplements that I take every day because they’re contained in one formula! So instead of popping 17 individual capsules at various times during the day like I used to, all I have to do is take my Custom Formula twice a day with food (at breakfast and at lunch). Not only is it much easier to remember, it’s also really cost effective.
As you can see in the left hand column, I was spending a lot of money on supplements before starting at NutriChem (about $176/month), but I still had deficiencies in a number of areas! My Custom Formula now includes everything that I had been taking, but in the correct quantities based on my body’s needs and in the most absorbable forms (after all, we are what we absorb). My Custom Formula also contains things I wasn’t getting at all, like CoQ10 (which wasn’t in my vegetarian diet) and choline (which I should be taking to prep my body for pregnancy). So even though I was spending $176/month, I still had issues that required further interventions to correct.
As a part of the BCB Consultation process, you get the “recipe,” or the ingredient list, for your Custom Formula, plus additional recommendations that will help balance your body’s biochemistry. There is no need to buy all of the recommended products, or any of them. For me, it was very enlightening to see how much I was spending on supplements yet I STILL wasn’t feeling optimal. I’m sure there are people who will look at the final numbers and say: “But Elysia, you’re spending $237 right now when you used to spend only $176. That’s not a savings!” And to those people I say: “The additional $61 per month for the RIGHT products has already done more for my physical, emotional and mental health in 2 weeks than the Gabriel’s pizza I would’ve spent that 60 bucks on ever would’ve.”
Speaking of pizza, I’ve been doing extremely well on the Elimination Diet. I’ve been following Laura Mierzwa’s recommendations for me for just over 2 weeks, and with only one “cheat” (I took a few bites of homemade trifle because I couldn’t resist its delicious layers of angel cake, berries and custard). Grocery shopping and preparing meals in advance has made this process immeasurably easier. While it’s hard to tease out which benefits are from starting my Custom Formula and supplementation protocol and which benefits are from the Elimination Diet, I can honestly say that the 8 lbs I’ve lost actually feels like much more because of how great I feel.
By removing “toxic substances” from my diet, I removed certain food ingredients (refined sugar, refined wheat, alcohol, caffeine), common food allergens (soy, dairy, certain nuts, gluten), nightshades (tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes, peppers), and chemicals (pesticides, fungicides, food colorings, MSG). The foods I eat now will not spike my glucose levels, plus I make sure to eat protein with every meal and snack to help with glucose metabolism. And I definitely don’t feel like I’m starving myself. I even made this incredible hot chocolate (with reduced honey) as a treat over the weekend. My friends commented that it was the best hot chocolate they’ve ever had! It’s creamier and more delicious than store-bought hocho, and it doesn’t contain 49g of sugar like a Tim Hortons medium hot chocolate does! (In case you didn’t know, that’s over 12 teaspoons of sugar!!!!! [4g = 1tsp])
In last week’s post, I explained what the elimination diet really looks like. It’s been a rewarding process so far, and I can’t wait to see what improvements I see and feel on Week 3 of the Elimination Diet.
I experienced some “detox symptoms” when I started the Elimination Diet, and I wanted to take some time to explain why I was feeling them, what they signaled, and how to get rid of them. (Tracy from the website Incredible Smoothies has a fantastic blog post called “Common Detox Symptoms and What They REALLY Mean” that goes into more detail about this.)
To sum up the most common detox misconception, your body is constantly undergoing detoxification because various organs in your body (like your liver and kidneys) continuously eliminate toxins from your bloodstream. Even you exhaling as you read this sentence is a form of detoxification: you’re getting rid of carbon dioxide with each breath! So please, don’t believe the hype that “eating clean” will get rid of some sort of toxic buildup that your body is currently ignoring.
When you start a new regime like juicing or doing the Elimination Diet, you aren’t “starting up” detoxification: rather, you are making the entire process more efficient by supporting it.
Many of the symptoms that people feel when they switch to a whole foods, plant-based diet are not detox symptoms at all, but rather they are clues from the body saying that they need to make tweaks to the diet/regime to be fully effective. Here’s what some of the most commonly reported “detox symptoms” are actually trying to tell us.
I experienced some withdrawal symptoms when I cut caffeine from my diet, and someone close to me experienced symptoms of sugar withdrawal. These are common because both substances are stimulants, and our bodies get addicted to those.
What could help: Reducing your amounts gradually as opposed to going cold turkey is one way to make the transition easier on your body. If you choose to cut them out in one fell swoop, rest assured that these withdrawal symptoms go away after a few days, especially if you drink lots of water.
Brain Fog, Fatigue and Low Energy
These are not detox symptoms: rather, they’re indicators of insufficient calorie intake. I experienced all 3 of these in my first few days on the Elimination Diet when I basically starved myself before I had a chance to go grocery shopping. It’s very easy to under-eat when starting a new regime: fruits and vegetables are bulky and make you feel full, but they contain fewer calories than other foods.
What could help: I started following the recommendations from my nutritionist to clear up these issues. Keeping a food journal helps too. You can find many apps and diet-tracking websites online, or you can contact one of NutriChem’s nutritionists to set up a Nutritional Consultation.
People experience headaches mostly as a withdrawal symptom when removing a stimulant (like coffee or sugar) from their diet. Headaches have little to do with a sudden change in diet or lifestyle, BUT are often a sign of dehydration.
What could help: Drink more water than usual to help your body to flush out toxins. At work, I keep a water bottle on my desk all day, sip it regularly, and refill it often. At home, a glass of water follows me around everywhere. Hydration heals!
People think that they’re experiencing body aches when starting a new regime mostly because they become hyper-aware of their bodies. It’s not actually that their body hurts more; it’s just that they never noticed it before. These pains are likely psychological in nature.
What could help: Stay mindful of your body through the process, but don’t over-stress every little thing. Eating a properly balanced diet of calorie-sufficient whole foods will not damage your body or cause any sort of pain.
Gas and Bloating
These are very common symptoms of increased fruit and vegetable consumption and have nothing to do with “detoxification.” You could experience some stomach discomfort if you eat fat-based foods (like nuts or seeds) before eating a fruit-based meal (like a green smoothie).
What could help: Wait a few days: gas and bloating should decrease as your body adjusts to a healthy increase of fruits and vegetables. If you’re still experiencing discomfort, reduce your fruit and vegetable intake temporarily, then slowly increase it.
Diarrhea and/or Constipation
Diarrhea is a common – but temporary – result of increasing fruit and vegetable consumption. This symptom will subside in a few days, once your body adjusts to the increase in healthy fibre.
What could help: Again, wait it out.
Constipation could be caused by removing caffeine from your diet, inadequate water intake, or (less commonly) from a sudden change of fibre in the diet.
What could help: Drink more water, and ensure you’re getting the right amount of total fibre from foods and supplements.
Acute Acne and Skin Breakouts
Since there is no real scientific evidence that links diet with acne, there isn’t an explanation for why they (seem to) happen when people start a new regime. Acne, however, is not your body trying to push toxins out through the skin! This article by Paleo for Women does a good job of explaining in one sentence how acne comes to be: “Your genes and hormones cause acne to get started, and inflammation [anywhere in the body] acts like gasoline on the flame.”
What could help: Reducing toxic exposure (from foods and chemicals) will help, along with regular exercise, plenty of water, and getting enough sleep.
If any of these symptoms persist for longer than a week, or if they appear after following a particular diet for a while, it might be a signal that you need to make a change. Make sure to consult with a health care professional to rule out any underlying illnesses or conditions.
People often feel intense detox symptoms when they do starvation diets like juice-only fasts or strict detoxes. People feel awful on these for a reason: they don’t do the body good! Achieve your full health potential by focusing on eating healthier, whole foods, and by balancing your body’s biochemistry. That’s how I’m doing it, and I couldn’t be happier!
Tune in every Monday until the end of March to follow “My BCB Journey” to better health.
In Part Seven, I will:
[Part One] Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired!
[Part Two] Don’t Just Survive… Thrive!
[Part Three] The Results Are In! Here’s What’s Really Going On
[Part Four] Are We Really What We Eat?
[Part Five] What The Elimination Diet REALLY Looks Like
[Part Six] Optimize Your Health by Balancing Your Body’s Chemistry
[Part Seven] 7 Ways My Health Improved in 1 Month
[Part Eight] When it Comes to Supplements, YES Quality Matters!
[Part Nine] Is Your Food Making You Miserable?
[Part Ten] Be Healthy Again / For the First Time!
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The microbiome is rapidly emerging as a central pillar of health, and although the best way to improve gut health is through diet, there are lots of beneficial microbiome supplements out there.