When we met Amie Valpone, we instantly connected with her passion for healthy, sustainable living from the food we eat to what we put on our skin. Read her inspiring story and non-toxic lifestyle tips below:
When something painful happens that is big enough to make you question your entire life, all the wounds that are trapped in your body come out to be healed. After suffering for 10 years from chronic illness, I learned that somewhere within the healing and recovery is a way to fill our lives with new meaning. I quit my corporate job 7 years ago and followed my heart to inspire thousands of people with my journey to wellness.
Today I am the founder of The Healthy Apple, LLC. and author of the new best-selling cookbook, Eating Clean: The 21-Day Plan to Detox, Fight Inflammation, and Reset Your Body.
Ten years ago I found myself in a corporate job out of college when my body started to shut down. You name it, I had it. You name the doctor, I saw them. Over 500 doctors, Mayo Clinic, two bone marrow biopsies, muscle biopsies, Lyme disease, PCOS, Candida, Leaky Gut, C-diff Colitis, Hypothyroidism, Epstein Bar…the list goes on and on and on.
I was put on pain killers, steroids and water pills at the age of 22 and was told that was all doctors could do for me. I felt lost; I felt confused and most of all I felt like no one was on my team. I had to figure out how to be a team of one and heal my own life.
As I started to research how to heal, I landed on disability from my job and was given 24 hours to live with C-diff colitis. I laid there looking at my bag of morphine dripping into my arm with a terrible dagger pain in my colon, and I promised myself that if I survived, I would dedicate the rest of my life to inspiring others who were struggling with their health to never give up and to stay positive. And so I did just that.
I survived, quit my job, launched my own business and started to learn how to listen to my body instead of listening to everyone else for the first time in my life. Discovering what fed my soul (without even knowing what that meant at the time), was like finding the most incredible world inside my computer asking me to come out and have fun.
It was a place for me to talk about my pain but also my healing and it attracted readers who were deeply connected with my story. I share my story with you today because I know so many people are suffering from symptoms and health issues without any answers. My answer was toxicity.
Toxicity That Surrounds Us
It is becoming an important topic in our culture because of the increase in chemicals and toxins in everything from our air to our water, foods, cleaning products and more. Until recently, I did not understand what toxicity meant aside from seeing the chemical warnings on the back of a cleaning product. Turns out the majority of our bodies are toxic and it is the cause of many unwanted symptoms from arthritis to acne.
After years of western medicine (including numerous bone marrow biopsies, CT scans, MRIs, colonoscopies and more) that yielded no real answers, I discovered integrative and functional medicine and embarked on years of self-study. What they discovered was fascinating. It was “toxic” – a term western medicine did not understand. You name it. I had it.
I was diagnosed with a handful of chronic issues and was off the charts for heavy metals, mold and practically everything else they tested me for. What I needed was a full-blown detox, in the truest sense of the word – not a trendy 2-day juice cleanse. Funny thing is that I thought I was healthy (no drinking, drugs or fast food), however I learned toxins come from countless places – pesticides, toothpaste, dish soap, laundry detergent, perfumes, shampoo, processed foods, car exhaust, cosmetics, and more. While the word detox is thrown around a lot and is often misunderstood, functional and integrative medicine use detox practices to reset your digestion and reduce the exposure of toxins.
I reveal this detox journey in my book Eating Clean: The 21-Day Plan to Detox, Fight Inflammation, and Reset Your Body, where I go into great detail on how to detox your food, cleaning supplies, personal care products and beauty products because we often forget our skin is our biggest organ.
Health Is Not Just Eating Clean, But Living Clean
What we put on our skin gets absorbed into our bloodstream and our liver has to filter these toxins to keep us healthy. What I soon realized is that many of the symptoms that we suffer from can be reversed by cleaning up your gut health (where almost 70% of your immune system lives) and supporting your liver on a daily basis to remove toxins from our lifestyle.
Most of us were brought up with the mentality that a drug or topical ointment is prescribed to get rid of our symptoms, however these are not addressing the underlying causes as to why the symptoms appeared in the first place. In my book, I list the most trusted resources for integrative and functional tests that get to these underlying causes – something I wish I had handy 10 years ago.
So, how can you start detoxing today? Eating clean, reducing your exposure to toxins and being aware of the toxins in your environment is a great way to start the detox process.
Here is a few ways to get started:
7 Tips To Eat Clean And Detox Your Body
1. Avoid Refined Sugar Food
Read labels, especially on condiments, beverages and any processed food. There is sugar lurking in the ingredient list in everything from tomato sauce to salsa. Refined sugar is highly inflammatory and is often the cause and trigger of many health issues.
2. Drink Filtered Water
Get yourself a high quality water filter that removes fluoride, chemicals and heavy metals from tap water. Surprisingly, drinking these chemicals and metals interferes with our gut health, which as you know is where the majority of our immune system lives.
3. Eat Detoxifying Veggies
Add in more detoxifying whole foods such as broccoli, cauliflower, dandelion, arugula and Brussels sprouts. These foods can help support your liver to remove excess toxins that we are exposed to on a daily basis.
4. Remove Refined Oils
Refined oils such as canola oil are highly inflammatory; you can replace them with healthier oils such as extra-virgin organic olive oil, avocado oil and coconut oil.
5. Eat Healthy Fats
Do not fear fat. Fat is not the enemy unlike what we have all been brought up to believe. Our bodies need healthy fats to survive and function optimally. These fats keep you from being hungry, speed up your metabolism and help your body lose weight.
Toss the margarine and instead reach for avocados, walnuts, hemp seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds, almonds, wild salmon, grass-fed meat, omega 3, organic eggs, and the healthy oils mentioned above.
6. Eat Clean Foods
Food in its whole form is the healthiest version. That is my rule of thumb, and it should be yours. The majority of what you eat should have one ingredient.
What is in an avocado? Avocado. What is in an apple? An apple. If most of your meals come from a box, then it is worth rethinking your diet.
7. Eat Organic
The point of eating organic is not to reap more nutrients. The reason you should choose organic is to avoid toxins like pesticides, growth hormones, antibiotics, and herbicides found in conventional foods, which are silently contributing to our health issues and making many of us sick.
It amazes me that my own unraveling back to vitality was the catalyst for something so much bigger than me. There was a purpose to my health crisis. I have been on this path for over a decade, and I am right by your side. My book was written for you because I know there are thousands of you out there who are suffering, as well and looking for inspiration.
Hang in there, stay positive and never give up. Know your worth, challenge your doctor and remember that you have the power inside of you to heal, stop giving your power away to others who do not understand your symptoms or root cause.
Guest post: Amy Valpone, HHC, AADP is the author of the best-selling cookbook, Eating Clean: The 21-Day Plan to Detox, Fight Inflammation & Reset Your Body and the Editor-in-Chief of TheHealthyApple.com. She is a Manhattan Celebrity Chef, Culinary Nutritionist, Professional Recipe Developer, Food Photographer, Writer and Motivational Speaker. She specializes in simple gluten-free, soy-free and dairy-free ‘Clean Eating’ recipes.