Research from Tufts University reveals why women can’t lose pounds. The good news: Seven days is all it takes to reset your digestive system for effortless weight loss!
Fat, foggy, and fatigued is not how we plan on spending the summer. This year, we’re looking for a health reset — a way to shed those stubborn pounds and reclaim our energy for good. Of course, we’ve tried — and had some success — before, but it seems our progress always stalls and the number on the scale begins to creep back up… and every year, we have to put in a little more effort to get the same results.
What gives? The problem isn’t necessarily the diets we follow; it’s that the body is caught in a fat trap that prevents lasting weight loss. That’s because by our late 30s and 40s, most of us are suffering from a sluggish digestive system. To blame: acid-producing foods (think: the refined sugar and processed foods that dominate the standard American diet) combined with an acidic lifestyle (stress and not enough sleep) shift the body’s pH out of balance and cause the digestive system to be, in a sense, “clogged” with acid waste, yeast, and bacteria. And that blocks the body’s ability to absorb nutrients, explains Ross Bridgeford, author of The Alkaline Reset Cleanse: The 7-Day Reboot for Unlimited Energy, Rapid Weight Loss, and the Prevention of Degenerative Disease ($17.10, Amazon). The result? “Your gut is full of undigested matter, your cells are starved for nutrients, you feel bloated and sluggish, and you can’t lose weight, no matter how carefully you follow a diet.”
Complicating matters, all that waste stuck in the gut ends up in a state of putrefaction, causing a cascade of other health problems. “As gatekeeper, your gut has a huge task to not only serve as a porous filter for the building blocks of life but also to keep out all the detrimental substances you may be exposed to,” says Vincent Pedre, MD, author of Happy Gut: The Cleansing Program to Help You Lose Weight, Gain Energy, and Eliminate Pain ($11.55, Amazon). And if it can’t do that job? Dr. Pedre explains the effects of an acid-clogged gut can include chronic fatigue, muscle aches, joint pain, and brain fog.
“Most of us — including most doctors — do not know that digestive problems wreak havoc in the entire body,” adds Mark Hyman, MD, medical director for Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Functional Medicine. “Digestive problems lead to allergies, arthritis, autoimmune disease, chronic fatigue, mood disorders, dementia, cancer, and more.”
Rid the gut of that acidic waste, though, and wow! “Having a healthy gut means more than simply being free of annoyances like bloat or heartburn — it is central to everything that happens in your body,” says Dr. Hyman. Indeed, Bridgeford adds, “If we cleanse the digestive system of acidic wastes, we get a huge instant energy hit that can last forever because our body is now absorbing 100 percent of the nutrients from the goodness we eat.”
It doesn’t take long to reset your digestive system. A study from Thailand revealed that the body can be thrown into an acidic state in just one week — and the inverse is also true: Seven days of alkaline eating can kill unwanted yeast and bacteria and flush any undigested junk stuck in the gut.
As acid levels come down, the function of slimming organs like the liver and thyroid improves to speed metabolism, research from Tufts University School of Medicine shows. And science from the University of Texas suggests that people with less acid in their system have a BMI that’s 52 percent lower than those with the highest amounts. “You’ll undo years of poor diet, stress, and cumulative toxic buildup, and you’re helping your body rebalance its digestion, hormones, liver, kidneys, immune system, and more,” promises Bridgeford. “Every cell in the body is touched by this.”
Women from around the world rave about the benefits. Take it from Juanita Butler, 47, who went alkaline to help battle lupus: “[Doctors] told me I would not have a day that was pain-free, and I have proved them wrong,” she says, adding that in addition to pain relief, she lost 20 pounds! And Denise Bird-Newell, 49, of Hampshire, England, followed Bridgeford’s advice after being diagnosed with arthritis. “The energy that came back the first week was amazing. I felt well again — full of life,” she says. “The swelling in my joints went down and weight just dropped off!” Read on for the healing plan!
100-Percent Healthy Made Easy
The best thing about the alkaline diet is that you don’t have to count calories or carbs — it’s all about nourishment, not deprivation, says Bridgeford. “It isn’t about being vegetarian, paleo, or keto,” he adds. But because the alkaline diet is about eating foods that heal your gut, it can make any of those diets even more effective. The key is to reset your system with a seven-day cleanse before starting a healthy diet. “Putting rocket fuel into a beat-up old car isn’t going to turn it into a rocket,” Bridgeford explains. “You first have to unclog and rebalance your systems to reboot your body into a state where it can run optimally.” Then the stubborn pounds will really start falling off your frame.
On the seven-day reset, you’ll fill up on fresh produce and healthy fats while eliminating processed foods. “Microwaved meals, jars of sauce, breads, pastas, fast food, baked goods, ready meals…99 percent of them are packed with the most acid-forming, inflammatory ingredients you can find,” says Bridgeford. Say goodbye to sugar, gluten, MSG, trans fats, hydrogenated fats, and high-fructose corn syrup, and you’ll finally be able to get rid of fat-trapping acidic waste, yeast, and stubborn belly fat. Also off the menu: starchy carbs, which shift your body toward a more acidic state. Here are your success strategies (but check with your doctor before trying a diet):
1. Blend your way slim.
This plan calls for filling up on fresh produce to get a wallop of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and water — all things your body needs to reset. Bridgeford recommends 10 servings of fruit and veggies a day — which can be tough to do. That’s why the cornerstone of this plan is soups, stews, smoothies, and juices — they make it easy to fill your diet with nutrient-rich produce. “Liquids bring the nutrients where they need to go faster, with a higher potential for absorption and little waste,” he adds. “That’s an incredibly efficient and effective nutrient delivery system.”
2. Stay hydrated.
“You can’t unclog your gut without sending a flood of liquid to move all the undigested material that’s sitting there,” says Bridgeford. In addition to liquid in the form of soups, smoothies, and juices, drink plenty of lemon water, turmeric tea, and ginger tea, which calm inflammation and help flush toxins. Another tip: Swap out your coffee — it’s acid forming — but you can get an alkalizing morning energy boost that jump-starts slimming by switching to a turmeric latte (see below).
3. Eat and drink often.
Consuming enough calories to keep metabolism cranking is key, and meals every two hours help you do this, says Bridgeford, who advises having seven nutrient-packed sips and soups a day (he shares a sample day from the seven-day plan outlined in his book below). That said, if liquids just aren’t cutting it and you want a snack, go for it. Bridgeford suggests cutting an avocado in half and topping it with chopped tomato, olive oil, salt, and pepper. “It might give you a psychological lift to make you forget any pesky detox symptoms.”
4. Soothe toxic stress.
You know how when you start cleaning one cupboard, you soon find yourself cleaning the entire house? An alkaline diet will have the same effect, says Bridgeford, explaining that while you’re fixing your gut, you need to tackle your stress too.
“Negative emotions related to stress cause a spike in cortisol, which is profoundly unbalancing,” he says. “Not only does it tax the adrenals, hypothalamus, pituitary, and other organs and glands within your endocrine system, it increases acidity and inflammation. And chronically elevated cortisol makes you more acidic. It becomes a vicious cycle.”
His advice: Each day, set aside 10 minutes for simple breathing exercises. Start with deep belly breaths, then move on to breathing in for a count of four, and breathing out to a count of two.
Day 8 and Beyond
Once your gut is reset, you can keep slimming the alkaline way — no diet “perfection” required. “Simply work toward making veggies, healthy fats, and plant protein the stars of the show 80 percent of the time,” says Bridgeford. Avocados, nuts, and coconut oil are welcome for their good fats, which help rev the thyroid and ease inflammation. And while alkaline eating is mainly meat- and dairy-free, occasional steak or chicken is fine.
“Just try to buy the best quality meat you can,” says Pedre. That means free-range and grass-fed when possible, since factory-farmed proteins are acid-forming. “Keep your meat budget the same,” Pedre suggests, “but buy better meat and less of it.”
A slice of cake or glass of wine now and again? Also totally fine! Once you’ve cleansed the unwanted acidic waste and undigested material out of your gut, Bridgeford says, a splurge won’t pack on fat the way it does now!
Alkaline Reset Cleanse Sample Menu
When You Wake Up: Turmeric Latte — Grate 3/4-inch fresh peeled ginger root and 1/2-inch turmeric root into a mortar. Add one teaspoon coconut oil to create a paste. In saucepan, simmer paste with 1/2 cup full-fat coconut milk, 1/2 cup coconut water, 1/2 teaspoon cloves for four minutes. Strain and enjoy. Can’t find fresh turmeric root? Try Anthony’s Organic Turmeric Root Powder ($12.99, Amazon)
Pre-Breakfast: Green Juice — Juice one-inch each fresh turmeric and ginger, one handful each spinach and kale, one cucumber, one cup filtered water. Drink half, and save the other half.
Breakfast: Energy Smoothie — Blend 1/2 cup soaked almonds, 1/4 cup soaked cashews, 1/2 avocado, 1/2 cucumber, two handfuls of spinach, one handful of kale, three tablespoons coconut oil, one tablespoon each sunflower and chia seeds, one cup almond milk. Drink half, and save the other half.
Mid-Morning: Juice — Enjoy the second glass of your green juice.
Lunch: Gut-Healing Soup — Cook one cup lentils. Sauté four cloves garlic, one chopped onion, one diced sweet potato, two diced carrots. Add one cup broth and cook until al dente. Blend lentils, broth, one avocado, one handful spinach, one bell pepper, and one handful cashews until smooth. Makes two servings.
Mid-afternoon: Smoothie — Enjoy the second glass of your energy smoothie.
Dinner: Warming Squash Soup — Simmer one peeled and chopped butternut squash in 1 1/4 cup organic, low-sodium veggie broth. Add one diced onion and 12 ounces coconut milk. Simmer until squash is soft, then blend. Add salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste. Makes two servings.
Like she had every year for the past five years, Michelle Dewees accompanied her husband and his family on vacation to Colorado, where they hiked along the Continental Divide. And just like every other time, Dewees lagged behind, battling her negative thoughts. I’m so mad at myself for being in such bad shape, she scolded herself as she huffed and puffed and struggled to catch up. “I thought I was always going to be that size, with rolls on my neck and bulges in my stomach,” Dewees recalls. “I didn’t see a happier ending.”
Everything changed when Dewees joined Instagram and found recipes with healing alkaline ingredients on accounts like @SkinnyTaste and @JensFoodAndLove. “Instagram was an endless source of inspiration, motivation and information,” says Dewees, who posts on the site as @ThisOkiesLife_ww.
Dewees made alkaline upgrades to her diet, dropped 11 pounds the first week and noticed improvements with belly bloat, digestion, and brain fog. She eventually reversed her pre-diabetes and cured the insomnia she’d struggled with for 15 years.
“Sometimes I look in the mirror and I can’t believe I have the waistline that I do now,” marvels Dewees, who dropped seven pant sizes. And when she hiked the Continental Divide this year, she easily reached the summit in a quarter of her usual time. “Now I feel so much younger and can enjoy every moment!”
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This article originally appeared in our print magazine.