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Updated: Sep 10, 2019

Many of my patients are coming in wondering why they are not feeling well, as they are eating “clean”.

The Clean Diet is a lifestyle that allows you to eat more and lose weight, and probably improve overall health if done properly, and combined with proper exercise. The basis of the program is to eliminate all chemicals, by eating only unprocessed whole foods including fruit, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, daily healthy fats (for example olive oil), and avoiding all sugars, artificial ingredients, preservatives, and chemically altered foods. Avoidance of saturated and trans fats is also necessary. The plan also requires five or six smaller meals daily, never missing breakfast, and adequate hydration.

Clearly this is a difficult lifestyle, and requires a big commitment to maintain. Food needs to be purchased in organic farmer’s markets and similar outlets. “Cheating” is usually allowed once weekly.

Most of my patients following this kind of program are younger. No matter what age, people following this program are very committed and focussed. Given the highly restrictive nature, I have encountered very few people able to follow this long-term. However, I have encouraged some of my patients with difficult intestinal issues, to periodically “cleanse” their systems, and follow this type of program for short periods (weeks) of time. This applies to advanced irritable bowel problems, inflammatory bowel (Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis in remission), and for cancer patients. Other patients who may benefit include those with other inflammatory conditions.

As to why some of my clean-eating patients have intestinal complaints, this may be a genetic lack of digestive enzymes, or allergies to certain foods or food groups. These conditions can be evaluated by genetic testing, and proper laboratory testing, and very frequently, can be controlled with proper probiotics and other natural supplements, although supplements tend to run counter to the philosophy of clean eating. As this is an extreme change for most people, I usually recommend at least an initial dietary consultation and periodic follow up.

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