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Discover the safe, effective, delicious cleanse that took Instagram by storm! This 5-day detox program allows you to eat whole, nutrient-rich foods—and feel satisfied and energized while dropping pounds!
As a professional model, Nikki Sharp traveled constantly, barely slept, skipped meals, and relied on quick fixes to stay skinny, all of which took a toll on her physical and emotional health. Realizing she needed to make a serious change, she began to study integrative nutrition—and learned that the key to weight loss, radiant skin, and overall well-being is not starving yourself but eating. That’s right: eating! Sharp created her detox plan based on the knowledge that in the right combinations, real whole foods—grains, vegetables, fruits, and spices—can aid digestion, burn body fat, flush out toxins, reduce bloating, banish fatigue, and clear up acne.
Unlike other cleanses, The 5-Day Real Food Detox allows you to eat five times a day—and shed a pound a day—with meals and snacks developed by Sharp (and backed by a nutritionist and a registered dietician). Even better, the recipes, including Love Pancakes, Spinach & Chickpea Hummus, Black Bean Burgers, Cauliflower Mash, and Taco Bowl, have been taste-tested by Sharp’s many of 300,000-plus Instagram followers, who have done the plan and seen amazing results. In The 5-Day Real Food Detox, you’ll discover
• nutrient-dense foods that encourage detoxification and weight loss • the facts on juice, smoothie, tea, and raw food cleanses • yummy foods to substitute when you crave unhealthy ones • ingredients to avoid and how to decode food labels • the secret to great-tasting meals—use spices instead of salt • strategies for lowering stress and combating insomnia • troubleshooting for food allergies, mood swings, bloating, and other detox issues
Complete with gorgeous full-color photos, success stories, shopping lists, and meal plans, The 5-Day Real Food Detox lays the groundwork for eating well and feeling wonderful for the rest of your life!
Advance praise for The 5-Day Real Food Detox
“Nikki is an amazing inspiration. Whether you are vegan, vegetarian, paleo, or just trying to get healthy, this book is a must-read!”—Kristina Carrillo-Bucaram, founder of the FullyRaw brand and author of The Fully Raw Diet
“Nikki Sharp’s plant-based detox is a holistic approach to long-term wellness. Not only will it help get you lean in a short amount of time, it will keep you there, and feeling energized the whole way through.”—Brendan Brazier, author of the Thrive book series
“The real power of this book is that it just may transform how you think about your food, your body, and the way your choices shape every aspect of your life.”—Adam Rosante, author of The 30-Second Body
“I love that Nikki Sharp’s program is full of real, satisfying foods that won’t leave you starving—so you can build healthy habits that will last long after the five days are over!”—Megan Gilmore, author of Everyday Detox
“Nikki Sharp’s style is fun, approachable, and innovative, and embodies the new way we should be eating. The wellness world is fortunate to now include her brilliant new book.”—Matthew Kenney, author of Cooked Raw: How One Celebrity Chef Risked Everything to Change the Way We Eat
“A must have for everyone who wants to look gorgeous and healthy like Nikki!”—Ani Phyo, author of Ani’s 15-Day Fat Blast and Ani’s Raw Food Essentials
Under the Cover
An excerpt from The 5-Day Real Food Detox
Detoxing with Clean Food
I lost 11 pounds in five days by doing this cleanse, and I’m continuing to drop weight because it taught me how to eat. For the first time in about a year, I put my jeans on . . . and I was so comfortable. I learned that it is not about living one day at a time, but living one decision at a time, and if I’m strong and sharp, I will see results and be happier with myself.
The world, it seems, is having a love affair with detoxing. It’s in vogue simply because it works, whether the regimen lasts three, ten, or twenty-one days. Most people who try one report weight loss, clearer skin, reduced bloating, and a rise in energy levels. In fact, in a recent survey of naturopathic doctors in the United States, 92 percent reported using detoxes to treat their patients. The most common reasons they cited were environmental exposure to toxins, general cleansing, preventive healthcare, digestive problems, aches and pains, inflammation, fatigue, and weight loss. It sounds like detoxing is clearly good for us—but why?
Detoxification—How It Works
Detoxification is the cleansing of toxins from the body. By “toxins,” I’m talking about the pesticides, artificial hormones, additives, and preservatives with which our food is treated, as well as the excess sugar, alcohol, caffeine, tobacco, pharmaceutical drugs, air pollution, bacteria, and viruses to which our bodies are routinely exposed—either by our own choices or through the environment.
Our food is one of the worst offenders—and it is the one that we have the most control over. But here’s the challenge: over the last century, food has become mass produced, mass prepared, and mass consumed, and much of it is of very poor quality as a result. The reasons are many: depleted soils, chemical fertilizers, and the indiscriminate use of pesticides on crops. Other problems that affect food quality include premature harvesting, artificial ripening, genetic engineering, and long transportation times from the source to the store—all of which diminish the nutrients in the food. To make matters worse, a lot of our food is subject to freezing, canning, and irradiation (exposed to radiation to control spoilage and eliminate food-borne germs). And you wonder why your skin breaks out and you don’t have any energy?
I once read that we don’t eat our food as much as our food eats us. In other words, our food doesn’t just supply us with nutrients anymore; it has also become a receptacle for toxins. According to the American Academy of Environmental Medicine, there are some ninety thousand chemicals commonly circulating, many of which may produce chemical sensitivities, with results ranging from allergies to chronically poor health.
Think about pesticides, too: they are so harmful that workers who spray them on the food we eat are required to wear head-to-toe protective gear, as well as gas masks to prevent ingestion and exposure. Those same pesticide-laden fruits and veggies end up in our grocery stores—yet no one warns us to suit up for protection!
Fortunately, the body detoxifies itself naturally. In fact, our bodies are designed to cope with toxins, and usually they do pretty well. The problems arise either when you take in more garbage than your body can handle via junk food, alcohol, smoking, pollution, and so forth, or when your organs in charge of detoxification cannot carry out their jobs as well as they should. Over time, toxins can accumulate in fat cells, in the nervous system, in the bones and soft tissues, and in various other organs and tissues of the body.
Another problem is that there are certain substances not so easily forced out by the body’s natural detoxification processes. These include POPs (persistent organic pollutants) and some metals. POPs have been used in the past, as well as currently, as pesticides. They are likely to congregate in fat tissue and can take years to break down. Girls who have been exposed tend to start their periods much earlier than is considered normal because POPs disrupt the function of hormones. For girls who start menstruating at a young age, there are physical and psychological stigmas: breast development (which can make them look stockier than their peers and contributes to their becoming sexually active earlier than others), PMS, weight gain, and embarrassment. There may be scary long-term effects, too. The New England Journal of Medicine has reported that the earlier a girl develops breasts, the earlier she might develop breast cancer.
When chemicals can’t break down fast enough or the body’s processes can’t keep up with intake, you can develop a range of symptoms from weight gain, vague aches and pains, headaches, dull skin, acne, lack of energy, insomnia, constipation, and bloating to cellulite, joint pain, depression, and severe fatigue. As if these aren’t enough reasons to detox, a buildup of toxins is also associated with diseases such as fibromyalgia, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and cancer, just to name a few. All of these are pretty concrete reasons why we should periodically cleanse our bodies with nutritious foods and beverages—and our minds with positive thoughts and emotions.
Do You Need to Detox?
You may still be thinking, why detox? Maybe you already live a pretty healthy lifestyle and only need to make a few tweaks to get fully on track. Or maybe you need to make some big changes. Either way, I’m not here to judge; rather I can help guide you to making a few simple choices that will benefit you greatly. And as far as I’m concerned, clean food is the ultimate feel-good, look-great fuel. When you put junk into your body, you feel like junk. When you eat well, you feel well.
Take this brief survey to see if your body can benefit from a clean food detox. Read the following statements, and put a check mark next to the ones that apply to your life. Be honest. Your answers shouldn’t reflect your ideal way of living or where you were a year ago. They should describe where you are now.
1. I eat meat more than three times a week.
2. I experience skin breakouts at least once a week.
3. My skin breaks out easily and I am ashamed of it often.
4. I eat fruits and vegetables no more than once a day.
5. I am often constipated.
6. I get sick more often than I would like.
7. I cannot function until I have at least one coffee or energy drink.
8. I smoke socially, when drinking, or when alone.
9. I often have trouble sleeping.
10. I feel like my hair is dull or doesn’t have any life to it.
11. I frequently feel bloated.
12. I eat dairy products, such as cheese, cream cheese, milk, cream, or half-and-half at least once a day.
13. I feel most energetic after 5:00 p.m.
14. I often feel like I have very little energy.
15. I drink alcoholic beverages every day, or never during the week but have several drinks on the weekend.
16. I have a big sweet tooth and eat several sugary foods throughout the week.
17. I live in an area of high pollution or smog (such as a city).
18. I often feel stressed.
19. I often sit in traffic or inside a building all day.
20. I exercise once or twice a week or not at all.
21. I eat packaged foods, including sandwiches, sodas, crackers, chips, dips, and desserts, at least three times a week.
If three or more of these statements describe you, a detox will really help you find your way. Remember, it’s not about losing weight or just eating better; it’s a whole shift toward feeling better about life, yourself, and your goals. Put another way, it can be the first step you take toward resetting your body and mind. And, considering the huge number of chemicals to which we are exposed, I’d say detoxing is important for everyone.
The Organs of Detoxification
Although every cell in the body has a role in detoxification, the major players are the liver, kidneys, digestive tract, skin, and lungs. Here’s how they work. The liver alone churns out thirteen thousand different detoxifying enzymes, small proteins that act as catalysts to speed up the chemical reactions in our bodies. Nothing goes on in the body without enzymes; in fact, life cannot exist without them. They are indispensable for digestion, a well-running immune system, and detoxification. Most enzymes work by taking apart matter. For instance, digestive enzymes break down the meal you just ate into its smallest components. Antioxidant enzymes dismantle disease-causing free radicals. And liver enzymes break down all sorts of toxins, from drugs to alcohol to pollutants, then eliminate them from the body as harmless by-products, filtered out by the kidneys and digestive system.
The kidneys rely on liver enzymes to convert toxins into water-soluble substances that can be eliminated. The digestive system gets rid of contaminants by excreting undigested food so that it does not build up and cause digestive problems. Taking good care of our intestines and colon with high-fiber food is the best way to keep the digestive system detoxed.
The skin is key, too, because it is our largest organ. We sweat out waste (including heavy metals) from our pores, which is why drinking lots of water helps keep your complexion clear and why you’ll quickly notice glowing skin when you cut out the junk. Working out is a great way to detox, too, because it makes you perspire. If an injury keeps you from exercising, you can still stimulate your sweat glands with periodic trips to the sauna. (But be sure to drink plenty of water after steam-cleaning yourself!)
In addition, our lungs expel carbon dioxide and other waste products and work best when we breathe unpolluted air. If we don’t have clean air, we can get very sick. Research indicates that many respiratory illnesses, such as asthma and Legionnaire’s disease, are the direct result of breathing unclean air in our homes, workplaces, and schools. And a large body of research suggests that inhaling airborne particles discharged by vehicles, factories, and power plants can prompt heart problems and aggravate respiratory diseases in susceptible people, leading to perhaps sixty thousand premature deaths annually in the United States.
Eating clean foods, particularly fruits and vegetables high in vitamins C and E, protects our lungs from pollutants. Deep breathing through yoga or meditation is another way to help them out. The more oxygen there is in your lungs, the more effectively you’ll expel the bad stuff, so make sure to allow a little time every day to take some deep breaths. These will also oxygenate your blood for more efficient delivery of nutrients to cells and tissues, clearing out all the CO2 to make room for fresh air in the body. I’ll talk more about breathing techniques in Chapter 6.
Note from Nikki: Can I Detox If I Smoke?
Speaking of lungs, what if you’re a smoker? Smoking can be incredibly hard to give up, and I’m not here to say that you need to start that journey right now. The good news? You absolutely can and should detox even if you smoke—I know you’ll still see great benefits. What I will suggest, though, is try to reduce your habit if possible, even by one cigarette a day. Not so bad? Then try cutting out two.
I know that smoking helps a lot of people skip meals in order to lose weight. But I want you to follow the cleanse to the letter, without skipping meals, changing them, or substituting a cigarette when you get a craving. Learning to deal with cravings the natural way will not only improve your health but also show you how strong your willpower can truly be, and you’ll feel more in control in all areas of your life. You might not even need cigarettes as much once your body begins to feel lighter and more energized. Just remember to drink lots of water, especially infused water, and to stimulate your palate with the recommended spices and herbs.
And believe it or not, one of the most effective ways to overcome smoking is not only by trying to quit but also by infusing your body with green vegetables, particularly in the form of green smoothies. There are a couple of reasons this works. For one thing, people often confuse hunger with the desire to smoke. So instead of reaching for a cigarette, reach for a green smoothie (it will fill you up and ease your hunger), or go for something to keep your mind busy, like crunching on an apple. If the cravings get bad, try smelling and playing with spearmint toothpicks. Also, smokers tend to be deficient in vitamin C. The green leafy vegetables in a green smoothie are loaded with the vitamin C you need. I’ve seen the worst of smokers kick their habit this way. Smoking is not an easy habit to kick, so what I want you to take away is that you are on a journey and it’s okay if you cannot quit right now.
Types of Detoxes
There are many different types of detoxes, so be careful to avoid the extreme, unhealthy ones. Perhaps you’ve already tried one, whether it’s a trendy fasting diet, a liquid cleanse, or a fat-melting pill (yeah, right!). Many of these can be harmful, leading to an imbalance of nutrients, infiltrating your bloodstream with toxic substances, slowing down your metabolism, and causing your weight to yo-yo.
Plus, a lot of them are based on rigid protocols, allowing you only juice, smoothies, water, or raw foods—and I have strong opinions on each of these.
I’m a huge advocate of juicing. It can be an effective way to flood your body with nutrients that you might not otherwise get. Used in non-Western medicine for hundreds of years, it can also cleanse your body, eliminate bloating, ward off cravings, increase energy, clear up skin, and even treat serious diseases. Not to mention that it’s all the rage right now, with new juice bars and home delivery services popping up to capitalize on the trend.
So juicing is the best thing ever, right? Well, not exactly. Where people go wrong is by drinking too many fruits and not enough vegetables. Fruit juice—even if you make it yourself—is a highly concentrated source of sugar. Yes, it’s natural sugar, accompanied by vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. But it can have a surprisingly high calorie count. More important, what’s missing from juice is fiber. Without fiber, the body absorbs sugar more quickly, triggering a rapid increase in blood sugar levels and impeding metabolism. Also, we need fiber to assist our bowels in healthy elimination. Some juice cleanses advise you to supplement with psyllium husk powder, or to schedule colonics or enemas to assist with bowel movements. Any protocol that requires an extra step (like a colonic) in order to use the toilet is not a healthy way to cleanse.