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Interview with Anne Louise Gittleman
on Diet, Nutrition, and The Fat Flush Plan


Ann Louise Gittleman, M.S., C.N.S. is a respected and innovative nutritionist who has appeared on television programs such as Good Morning America, Dr. Phil, and The View.  She is the author of 20 books on diet, nutrition, health and healing, including Before the Change and The Fat Flush Plan.

Interview by Janice Hughes and Dennis Hughes, Share Guide Publishers

The Share Guide: Your Fat Flush Plan doesn't include fasting, but many people think fasting is essential for detoxification. What is your opinion on this?

Ann Louise Gittleman: When I wrote The Fat Flush Plan, I specifically did not deal with fasting because, in my estimation, if a fast is not done appropriately you can become much sicker after the fast than before. This is because the liver is dumping too many petrochemicals from fat stores into the body, and many of these petrochemicals simply relocate into different organs. If the liver is not supported properly with a variety of antioxidants, sulfur bearing nutrients, as well as certain types of amino acids, then many of the toxins get broken down into more toxic by-products. So it's exceedingly important that people understand that detoxification is a nutrient-dependent process. It's essential that the right nutrients and the proper fiber is in the system before you begin a program. So you've got to be very careful and prepare the body for fasting. I have just completed a new book, The Fast Track One-Day Detox Diet, which will be out next April, that features a one-day fast that uses a particular type of juice with certain spices and herbs that are very helpful in regulating blood sugar.

The Share Guide: How important is flax seed or psyllium for detox and is it something that people should take long-term?

Ann Louise Gittleman: The reason I include ground up flax seeds and psyllium in The Fat Flush Plan is the importance of fiber. One needs to transport toxins out of the system and absorb many of those toxins, and that's the function of fiber. Ground up flax seeds are also the highest source of lignans, an estrogen modulating substance that is very protective against estrogen dependent cancers-from breast cancer to prostate cancer-so you get a double whammy when you use ground up flax. And it contains  50% soluble fibers and 50% insoluble fibers, so you get the regulating effects of the fiber as well as the effects of blood sugar stabilization, and even cholesterol regulation. So I am the biggest believer in ground up flax. Psyllium, on the other hand, can become gooey; it absorbs lots of water in the system, so people's bowel can become quite dehydrated. Overuse of psyllium can actually strip the bowel of beneficial bacterium.

The Share Guide: So these things are not to be taken long-term?

Ann Louise Gittleman: I don't believe that psyllium alone should be taken long-term, but ground up flax is great. But I am going to caution people here: when the ground up flax is not pre-toasted, it contains a type of alkaloid substance, and taken in excess this can effect iodine absorption or iodine uptake in the thyroid. So it should be toasted for 10-15 minutes, at 250-300 degrees in the oven.

The Share Guide: Why is flax seed oil so important?

Ann Louise Gittleman: There are several reasons. First, it's one of the highest sources of omega 3 fats, of which 80% of the public may be deficient. And because it's such a high source of omega 3, flax seed oil has the ability to stabilize blood sugar, and it's also very helpful in lowering cholesterol levels, providing a cardiovascular benefit. Studies show it is also helpful in terms of male infertility, believe it or not. In my program, flax seed oil has been found to give skin a wonderful glow, and we see people with thinning hair who say their hair has more luster. I've always recommended at least one tablespoon per one hundred pounds per body weight. When you take one to two tablespoons on a daily basis, it has a marvelous effect in terms of appetite satiation, so there's an insulin regulating ability as well. A little bit of flax seed oil will keep you filled up for 3-4 hours. I also believe that flax seed oil lubricates the system, and we need some lubrication along with our fiber to keep the toxins swiftly moving out of our body. Flax seed oil is very sensitive to heat and light, so use it in unheated recipes-and make sure the brand you choose is 100% organic.

The Share Guide: What about fish oil capsules? If you are taking these do you need flax oil too?

Ann Louise Gittleman: Oh, yes, I firmly believe that fish oil has different benefits than flax oil. What we find with flax oil, particularly high lignan organic flax oils, is that you're getting a nice healthy dose of those anti-cancer lignans that also have a fibrous benefit. But beyond that, we also find that flax oil is helpful in terms of cholesterol modulation, and c-reactive protein lowering. There is also the fact that there are many vegetarians who simply won't eat fish or fish oil. And because fish are so highly contaminated, one must be very careful of the sources of the fish oil; it must be molecularly distilled to remove all toxins and contaminants.

The Share Guide: How important is our water intake?

Ann Louise Gittleman: Water is the elixir of life, and I truly believe that water is exceedingly important. It is the element in which many of the toxins become eliminated, it flushes the system, and keeps you well hydrated. It's also important to note that many individuals think they are hungry when in fact they're really thirsty. I believe we should drink one half of our weight in ounces every single day-drinking a little bit throughout the day, perhaps every half hour. Many individuals should be drinking from 9-12 eight ounce glasses of water per day. And if those individuals are involved with a lot of speaking, or if they're on the telephone all day, they need an extra two glasses beyond that.

The Share Guide: So if a guy weighed 200 pounds, he should drink 100 ounces of water per day?

Ann Louise Gittleman: Yes, and then divide that by eight, and you get 12 1/2 eight ounce glasses of water per day. And beyond that, if you're speaking a great deal, then you would need an extra two glasses even beyond that.

The Share Guide: But this needs to be pure water, right?

Ann Louise Gittleman: Definitely! Any time you open a faucet you could be exposed to at least two thousand chemicals, many of which are carcinogenic. And in some cases, you could also be exposed to a good dose of cryptosporidium or giardia. So the reality is that one needs a water filter that is able to block out cryptosporidium parasites as well as giardia, and has the ability to cleanse the water of chorine, lead, other heavy metals, and even radioactive residues. We've got quite a lot that's floating around in our water these days!

The Share Guide: You've written that women are especially vulnerable to the effects of caffeine. How toxic is coffee?

Ann Louise Gittleman: There are forty different kinds of pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides in coffee beans. So the liver must break down the caffeine, plus it must also sequester, neutralize, and otherwise eliminate all of those toxins that are in the herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides that are used to grow the coffee. So on a daily basis, this can be exhausting for your liver, and this way your antioxidants can be used up in the process. We also know that a cup of coffee takes longer for a woman to process than a man, because of the intake of estrogen that her liver is already trying to break down. If you must drink coffee make sure it's organic, or try Teeccino, which is the herbal coffee blend I prefer.

The Share Guide: There's hidden caffeine in many things such as herbal supplements, and over the counter medicines.

Ann Louise Gittleman: I think caffeine is our legal street drug. Caffeine not only affects the liver, but it does lots of damage to the adrenals. When the adrenals are taxed and overworked by too much caffeine, then they go into burnout and the thyroid has to take over. Then before you know it, the thyroid becomes over-used, overworked, over tired. I think it's important not to rely on outside stimulation, but regenerate, rejuvenate, and balance our systems internally. We need to get proper rest, eat well, and take in sufficient water so we don't have to use stimulants to keep ourselves going.

The Share Guide: When people quit things like caffeine and sugar, isn't it best to decrease gradually?

Ann Louise Gittleman: Yes, absolutely. That's why I recommend doing a pre-Fat Flush before The Fat Flush Plan. I recommend one week of decreasing those things gradually. When I first created the program I thought the most difficult challenge was going to be getting rid of sugar. I was sadly surprised; it's not sugar at all, it's caffeine! It is very difficult for people that use coffee as their daily stimulant, their daily drug, to give it up. So doing this gradually is very important. The only thing that I have ever found that comes close to smelling like coffee and tasting like coffee is Teeccino.

The Share Guide: What culinary or medicinal herbs do you think are the most beneficial for detoxification? And why do you say to avoid very spicy foods?

Ann Louise Gittleman: Many women retain fluids with spicy foods, such as certain kinds of chilis, with the exception of cayenne. We season our food with therapeutic herbs and spices that are not just empty flavor enhancers, but actually are helpful in terms of powering up your health. One of the major spices is cayenne, because it seems to stimulate circulation, break up congestion, and it's very good for digestion. Cayenne is known as a thermogenic spice which can raise your body temperature, thereby raising metabolism for several hours. Mustard also has that ability, and mustard has a marvelous taste. Mustard is also a good reliever of inflammation and respiratory congestion. Cinnamon is also a favorite, because it has marvelous anti-oxidant qualities, and it has the ability to regulate blood sugar.

The Share Guide: You say that The Fat Flush Plan can be very helpful for menopausal women. Can you explain this?

Ann Louise Gittleman: It's because of the essential fats in the program. I believe that women have been eating themselves into hormonal dysfunction all these years, because they've been on a fat-free diet. The use of two tablespoons of flax seed oil, as well as our GLA substance, black currant seed oil, has been exceedingly helpful for menopausal women who suffer from hot flashes, irritability, dry skin, and dry eye syndrome. We've got so much resolution with dry eye syndrome that it's amazing. These are women that have been written off by their doctors. On The Fat Flush Plan they have been able to lose weight, lose inches, and keep it off. By using fats, they've remained thinner, they up their fat-burning metabolism, and they're able to lose inches for the first time in years. I think this relates to the essential fatty acids and the GLA content, but also eating the right kind of carbohydrates, the right kind of proteins, and the fact that we give them free support on our website. Support is a life saver; it is just as important as eating the right foods, drinking the proper amount of water, and exercising.

The Share Guide: You've written that eggs are fine to eat regularly, but what about the bad rap eggs have had?

Ann Louise Gittleman: Eggs are a very high source of antioxidants, which I believe we're missing from the diet. Eggs are also high in a nutrient called phosphatidylcholine, which is important for helping to metabolize fats. They are also the highest dietary source of several sulfur-based amino acids, including taurine, cysteine, and methionine, which are needed by the liver to regulate bile production. So I say bring on the eggs! But get those eggs from chickens that don't do drugs. I use free-range, omega 3 enriched eggs.

The Share Guide: What about fried foods? Aren't they a big problem?

Ann Louise Gittleman: You're right, no more fried foods! These have trans-fats which raise cholesterol levels, harden the arteries, as well as contribute to heart disease and aging.

The Share Guide: Trans-fats also relate to margarine and shortening. People are worried about cholesterol, but isn't it healthier to eat butter than margarine?

Ann Louise Gittleman: Without a doubt. You're really eating plastic when you're eating trans-fats. If you want a margarine substitute, think butter-and make it organic butter from grass-fed cows. Your body really has no ability to digest margarine. So it thickens the bile, makes it very viscous, and I believe that causes gall stones. When you eat trans-fat your body doesn't have the ability to break it down, so it stores it, and that's where you're getting the spare tire, the fat on your hips, waste, and thighs. Clinical studies have shown this; trans fats are simply unhealthy for the human body.

The Share Guide: Can the Fat Flush Plan be done effectively if you are a vegetarian or vegan?

Ann Louise Gittleman: Yes, for vegetarians or vegans, there are adjustments they can make, which are listed on our website at www.annlouise.com

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