I’ve always been into exercise (ok, give or take a year off here and there) and healthy eating (except a serious weakness for chips and salsa!) so whenever anyone would mention doing a functional medicine “cleanse” or “detox” I didn’t pay much attention, thinking to myself that I was already h e a l t h y. Growing older and getting to a certain big milestone age however, has made me reexamine my health. This is especially true as I’ve watched my parents age and realized how getting older could impact my ability to be active and enjoy life. One of the saddest things in my family has been seeing my once vigorous, brilliant, and in my mind–heroic, Dad be debilitated by dementia.

closeup with waterfall in the background, healthy lifestyle
I love being able to experience places that can only be reached by boat! Being this close to nature while also being completely unplugged was incredible.

Whenever I encounter a problem, I always think there HAS to be a solution, there has to be something that can be done, and my dad’s diagnosis of severe dementia was no different. I immediately began researching the disease, trying to figure out if there was some way to save my dad. I was willing to do whatever I could to stop the decline. My relationship with my dad has always been one of my greatest treasures; it’s been heartbreaking to slowly lose him and to also see how difficult this is on my mom.

sitting in front of waterfall, how to prevent alzheimers
I’m making a priority of taking care of my health with good nutrition, exercise, minimizing stress, and getting enough sleep. These factors have been proven to help reduce the chances of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s.

This is what I learned: it IS possible to prevent, stop, and even reverse the decline of dementia. The key is nutrition, lifestyle, and early intervention. This led me to think about how even though it might be too late for my dad, I could use this information to make changes in my life and hopefully also use my dad’s experience to help others. I know my Dad would have liked that very much.

walking beneath a flowering tree, god's creation
I’m always amazed by God’s perfect and beautiful creation. Learning about brain health has made me even more in awe of how nature provides exactly what we need to function and live a healthy life!

I’m a huge fan of naturopath and functional medicine doctor, Dr. Stephen Cabral. I heard a podcast interview between him and Lauren Evarts of @theskinnyconfidential and was immediately struck by his practical approach to nutrition and healthy living. He had an amazing ability to explain in such an easy-to-understand and accessible way how and why these things can affect the body. I began binge-listening to his podcast, The Cabral Concept, and by the time I began researching dementia, I was already convinced that nutrition was key to healing the body. From there, I was introduced to a book written by Dean & Ayesha Sherzai, The Alzheimer’s Solution and I also read Dr. Cabral’s book, The Rain Barrel Effect.

In addition to diet, exercise, sleep, and stress reduction, one of the biggest contributors to dementia is inflammation in the brain brought on by toxic overload and gut-based dysfunction in the body. Our bodies, specifically our liver, is designed to flush out all this bad stuff, but over time, our bodies are overloaded with toxins from food, the environment, and our lifestyle. By “detoxing” the liver, it’s possible to safely remove free and stored toxins from your body. This not only improves brain health, but you may also see results in weight loss, reduced bloating, less joint pain, more energy, and overall health.

Needless to say, after reading all of this I knew a detox was going to be in my future! Dr. Cabral recommends any functional medicine detox, but he has also formulated his own 7, 14, and 21-day detox protocol through Equilibrium Nutrition. I had come to trust his approach and wanted to test the claims of his detox for myself. And for the maximum results, I decided to go all-in and do the 21-day detox. I mean, if you’re going to do it, just DO IT!

hiking up a hill, why do a detox
This was a difficult hike but the payoff at the end was a huge, roaring waterfall! A detox can be challenging too, but when you feel better, you realize that the hard part was only temporary and the results are totally worth it.

The Detox:

I like that the Equilibrium Nutrition detox combines nutritional shakes with REAL food (albeit a restricted list). There was no way I could do 21-days of drinking only smoothies! Plus, I wasn’t doing this detox for weight-loss purposes and wanted to maintain my current weight. In a nutshell, week one was pretty easy, week two was the hardest because I was STARVING, and week three I added in more food so it was much better, but by the end, I was literally dreaming of bread, cookies, muffins, anything BREAD. I thought it would reduce cravings for sugar and carbs, but not even close!

eating ice cream, functional medicine detox
Sad but true, ice cream is definitely NOT on the list of accepted foods during a detox.

The Results:

–My biggest (unexpected) result was a reduction in joint pain. I had been struggling with hip pain for months, and it had finally reached the point where it was affecting my ability to walk and my daily activity. Within in the first week, that pain was GONE and even my stiff neck was greatly improved. I couldn’t believe it! I had been using exercise to strengthen my hip, but I had no idea that inflammation was a major contributor to the pain issue.

–Another big improvement was in my sleep. I’ve always struggled at times with falling asleep, but as I’ve gotten older, it’s definitely become worse. Since the detox, however, I’m falling asleep more quickly and sleeping deeper than I have in years. I am so so so happy about this! I hate being tired!

–Bloating and gas–GONE. Not that I had a huge problem with that, but I definitely noticed a difference. Another major and VISIBLE result was fat reduction in problem areas. I saw a noticeable slimming in my legs and that improvement has remained ever since.

walking on a hiking trail, dementia research
I want to be able to keep doing things like this for as long as I can! I’ve completely changed my diet and approach to health since researching dementia.

The best news is I never have to do the 21-day detox again. Now I can maintain the results with a 7-day detox 2-3 times/year and that seems like a cake walk (no pun intended) in comparison! It’s not hard when I know that the long-term gains are so beneficial to my brain and body. Previously, my husband had no desire to do the detox, but since seeing my results, he’s changed his mind and we’re doing a 7-day detox together starting next week!

What about you? Would you ever consider doing a detox? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. I hope my experience has helped give understanding on how it can be beneficial to your long-term health!


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