Category Archives: Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Is Juice Fast Safe?

I’m sold.


Juice fast works…

This guy Joe Cross is good. For someone without any medical experience and/or background, he successfully demonstrated how reversing chronic diseases and weight loss are totally achievable with lifestyle changes that include dietary changes and exercise. 

I know many medical professionals who are watching this documentary would disagree with the juice fast approach. After all, we've been taught in school that starving or fasting is a bad for the body. This idea has deeply ingrained in us.

But I disagree, as a registered dietitian.

The juice fast introduced in the documentary makes perfect sense. You're not 100% starving. You’re still getting calories and nourishing nutrients in its purest form. 

Related article: Juicing for Detox

You have no idea how long the human body can survivor without food. I see that every day in the hospital. Patients on NPO (nothing by mouth) for 5-7, sometimes up to 10 days or longer with only IV (intravenous) fluids (aka salt water).

Usually these patients have some kind of gastrointestinal disorders that prevents them from ingesting and digesting food. And in most case, these patients would have intravenous infusion of saline solution, sometimes sprinkled with some dextrose and electrolytes.

Then, there are adults and children starving without food or water in third world countries.  These are more severe cases of starvation that last even longer than patients we see not eating in the hospital for medical reasons.

Technically, the juice fast is not a real “fast”. You’re just replacing your usually calories with pure nutrients. And in doing so, there is a small caloric deficit.

The juice fast feels like a “fast” because it is significantly a lot less calories and food compared to the usual diet someone eat to gain the excess body weight.

The juice fast probably provides enough calories to maintain a healthy weight, it’s just that our normal way of food consumption is so distorted that when we're consuming the APPROPRIATE amount of calories, that it seem deficit.

After all, it’s a lot easier to consume 2,000 calories in ONE meal of cheeseburgers, fries and milkshake than to consume 2,000 calories of pure fruits and vegetables juices in one day.

While the juice fast does create a caloric deficit (from 4,000 calories a day to 2,000), it also introduces an abundant of very high quality and powerful antioxidants that optimizes the body's detox system to facilitate cleansing. 

With the caloric deficit, the body is forced to used the stored up fat from all those years of overeating and lack of physical activities for fuel.

As the body fat is being converted into energy and used, waste products are generated. The body fats also stored up toxic chemicals and artificial additives that we consume from our contaminated food supply. When fat cells are blasted up for energy, the toxic waste also leaks out. That explains why most people experience a period of ill-feeling during the initial weight loss process. However, as you continue to introduce the healing fresh fruits and vegetable juice potion, the body’s detox system will get more and more efficient.

The dark cloud eventually clears up, and you’ll feel brand new.  

I promise you won't die in this process.

Do you remember why we have body fat in the first place?

Have you noticed that we, as a nation, eats a lot of carbs.

Think of the last meal or even snack you ate. Carb is the focus.

Almost all the convenient snacks that we consumed frequently for convenience are carb, such as crackers, rice cake, granola bar, cereal bar, chips, Belvita cookies, etc.

All these so-called healthy snacks are not so healthy after all.

The main purpose of carbohydrate is to provide energy. Our body needs energy for basic body functions, such as breathing, heart pumping blood to circulate the body, thinking, digesting foods, etc. We also need energy for physical activities, even sitting, standing requires energy, and, of course, fun activities, such as hiking, swimming, sports, etc.

However, when we consume too much carbohydrates from food and beverages, especially simple carbohydrates and our body is not using up all the energy. Your body will start to store the extra energy in the form of body fats.

Our body does not have a purging mechanism that purges all the excess calories at the end of the day. Instead, our body stores the excess calories consumed and stored them as body fat, which is the storage unit of excess energy.

Our nation, in general, consumes a lot of carb, and that was the old idea from the historic Food Guide Pyramid.

The body stores excess energy just in case famine happens. But when was the last time you did not eat for 24 hours because of circumstances you cannot control?

Like never?

The juice fast induces the body to start dipping into the body fat to use as energy while infusing the body with life-enhancing powerful antioxidants from fresh fruits and vegetables. 

This is exactly what should happen In weight loss. You burn body fat while cleansing the whole system.

The Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead 2 is even better. I wasn’t even going to watch this thinking that most sequel are disappointing. But Cross proves me wrong.

In this follow-up of Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, Cross shows the continued challenges people face after losing lots of weight initially with the juice fast.

The show dealt into the emotional aspects of eating, life stressors, social isolations, and how having a supportive community is crucial to life long success in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. 

The documentary shows a surprising side effect of changing our lifestyle. It went back to some people featured in the first episodes. It shows that changing YOUR OWN lifestyle not only impacts your own life, but can potential affects the people around you, and possibly your whole community.

I have to say, it is very inspirational and motivating not only for people who wants to lose weight, but for anyone who wants to adopt a healthier lifestyle.

I wish more people struggling with weight loss and making lifestyle changes would watch this and be inspired as well. 

Related article: Juicing Recipes for Kids

Plant-Based Diet Saves Lives

What is a Plant-based Diet

What is a Plant-Based Diet?

A plant-based diet focuses on whole, unrefined, or minimally processed plants, such as organic fruits, vegetables, tubers, whole grains, seeds, nuts and legumes. It excludes or minimizes animal protein, such as meat (including chicken and fish), dairy products, and eggs. This diet also exclude highly refined or processed foods like bleached flour, refined sugars and oil.

It’s very interesting that a vegetarian or vegan diet is often frown upon in the medical setting. I get lots of consults from concern pediatricians and parents.

A plant-based or vegan diet is almost synonymous as starvation or malnutrition or a cover for an eating disorder in teenagers.

Pediatricians freak out if parents is vegan, and the child is at eminent risk of malnutrition. Parents freak out if their child wants to be vegan. The consult is either for me to educate the family of a proper vegan diet or the parents want me to pursuede their child to change their mind.

Despite all the things we’re taught in school about risk of protein deficiency, iron deficiency, calcium deficiency, vitamin B12 deficiency in a vegan diet, I have never, in my professional life, see a vegan or vegetarian with any of these deficiencies.

I’ve seen iron deficiency in women, children and teenagers who eats a regular American diet. I’ve seen protein deficiency, calcium deficiency and calcium deficiency in very sick children who eats a regular American diet.


How Does the Plant-based Diet Work?

To understand how the plant-based diet works, we need to first understand the chemistry of the human body.

Human Body Chemistry

Don’t worry…I’m not going to pull out my organic chemistry or biochemistry hat and start lecture.

What I want to get to is that the human body is a giant water bag filled with interacting elements. The human body is kept alive and functioning by thousands of chemical reactions. Every single one of these reactions requires a “catalyst” to make the reaction happens.

And coincidently, these catalysts are minerals and vitamins found in lots of fruits and vegetables that God made for us.

So in order for the human body to function well to include staying focus, having energy, fight diseases, etc, we need all our chemical reactions to work at their best, which requires lots of minerals and vitamins.

Antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables also plays significant role in our body functions. Antioxidants help neutralize harmful free radicals and speed the healing process.

The living body is a dynamic structure where cells are constantly dying and being replaced with new ones. With proper nutrition (or ingredients) our body can build better replacement cells and tissues that works even better than the last.

And there’s something to say about “cravings”. We have always been right about cravings. It’s our body’s way to tell us that some important ingredients are missing. But we have been tackling cravings wrong all this time.

We’ve been told to drink water when you have a craving. Or try to figure the texture (crunchy, gooey) or taste (sweet or salty) of the food that you crave, and find the food with the right texture or taste to curb the cravings.

In fact, what our body is really craving for are nutrients. Vital nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals and antioxidants from fruits and vegetables, to facilitate life-supporting chemical reactions.

That’s the point we’ve been missing.

When your body is well-nourished, your cravings will stop. You can look at cravings as thirst or hunger. You need hydration when you’re thirsty, energy from food when you’re hungry, and nutrients when you have cravings.

Look at the United States, you think we’re a well-informed and well-fed nation. But look at our spending on healthcare, and statistics of people dying from lifestyle diseases, such as heart diseases, cancers, obesity, diabetes, etc.

The Healthcare costs well-exceeds the GPD. will eventually bankrupt this country. And 1.2 million deaths that could have been prevented.

Leading Causes of Death in US

All these are diseases of malnutrition (or overnutrition) and nutrient-deficiencies.

What About the Nutrients in Animal Protein?

It’s true that animal protein does provide all 20 essential amino acids (building blocks of protein) in one source. However, it turns out animal protein is not the best or only source of protein or amino acid, or calcium, iron, zinc, etc.

High intake of animal protein (to include dairy and eggs) are associated with increased risk of certain cancers and chronic conditions.

According to the China Study, dairy products are not even a good source of calcium as we’ve been told by the Dairy Council.

It’s a big fat lie to get us drink loads of milk and eats tons of cheese so dairy farmers to make money.

In fact, the milk protein in dairy products increase risk of osteoporosis and osteopenia, and certain types of cancer. Studies have also shown that countries with the most dairy consumption also have the highest incidence of osteoporosis and osteopenia.

Red meat, as we know, increases risk of cardiac disease due to the oxidative effects of iron.

Despite the fact that plant protein is consider “incomplete”, it is the best source of protein. The human body does have 20 essential amino acids that we just can’t create on our own, and we need to acquire these essential amino acid from food that we eat. We’ve been told for decades that animal protein is ‘the best” source of protein because it provides ALL 20 essential amino acids. However, our body does not care where these amino acids come from.

Consuming animal protein to acquire these amino acids comes with a price - carcinogens, hormones, antibiotics, free radicals, etc.

On the other hand, assuming you’re eating a wholesome plant-based diet with a variety of unprocessed fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, seeds and whole grains, you’re guarantee to have all your essential amino acids complete.

Keep reading: Benefits of a Plant Based Diet

Dairy-Free Diet for Milk Allergy


The dairy-free diet is an elimination diet that eliminates all dairy products, such as milk, cheese, yogurt and all ingredients derived from milk.

It is intended for someone who is allergic or sensitive to cow’s milk.

The goal is to eliminate allergens from milk that trigger allergic reaction.

To successfully implement the dairy-free diet and achieve the best results, one has be meticulous with nutrition label reading, and savvy in the kitchen.

There’ll be new behaviors and habits, and new recipes to embrace.

Because milk is such a cheap commodity (as the industry is heavily subsidized by government’s grant), milk and its derivatives can be found in almost anything food products as additives. So you might not recognize these hidden milk ingredients on plain sight.

Fortunately, the US laws requires all FDA-regulated manufactured food products that contain a “major food allergen”, such as milk, wheat, egg, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, crustacean shellfish and soy, as ingredients to list that allergen on the product label.

For tree nuts, fish and crustacean shellfish, the specific type of nut and fish must be identified.

The phrase "non-dairy" on a nutrition label indicates it does not contain butter, cream, or milk. However, this does not necessarily mean it does not contain other milk-derived ingredients.

The Kosher food label "pareve" or "parve" almost always indicates food is free of milk and milk products. A "D" on a food label next to the circled K or U indicates the presence of milk protein. These products should be avoided.

Processed meats, such as hot dogs, sausages, and luncheon meats, frequently contain milk or are processed on milk-containing lines.

Carefully read all food labels before purchasing and consuming any items. When in doubt, call the manufacturer to find out more.

Avoid foods that contain these ingredients:

Milk in all forms (derivative, dried, powdered, condensed, evaporated, goat’s, from other animals, lowfat, malted, milkfat, nonfat, skim, sour cream, yogurt, cream, cheese, buttermilk, Half and Half™ )
butter, butter fat, butter oil, butter acid, butter ester, ghee
casein, caseinates (ammonium, calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium), casein hydrolysate
cheese, cottage cheese, curds
custard, pudding
hydrolysates (casein, milk protein, protein, whey, whey protein)
lactalbumin, lactalbumin phosphate, lactoferrin, lactoglobulin
rennet casein
sour cream
sour cream solids
whey (delactosed, demineralized, protein concentrate), whey protein hydrolysate

Other possible sources of milk or its derivatives:

artificial butter flavor
baked goods
brown sugar flavoring
caramel flavoring
high protein flour
lactic acid starter culture and other bacterial cultures
luncheon meats, hot dogs, sausages
natural flavoring

Many pediatricians and parents automatically raise concern about adequate calcium intake with a dairy-free diet, as milk is a very good source of calcium and other nutrients, as advertised by the Dairy Council.

And according to the various dietary guidelines over the past decades, milk and dairy products has always been represented as one group by itself.

There’s an over-emphasis on the importance of milk and dairy intake in our culture, in the American culture.

First of all, let me point out that many cultures in the world do not consume milk or dairy products on a daily basis. And people from these cultures thrive.

There are many non-dairy food that are rich in calcium.

Check out these non-dairy calcium food sources.

Second, let’s look at the nutrient profile of milk.

Milk Nutrient Content

The macronutrients in milk are fat, carbohydrates, and protein. Can you get any of these nutrients from other food in your diet?


The micronutrients in milk are mainly calcium, potassium, and vitamin B12. Can you get these nutrients from other foods?

Yes, too.

Can you replace cow’s milk with plant-based milk?

Yes. But here’s the caveat. Plant-based milk is not a compactible replacement. Most plant-based milk, such as soy, almond, or coconut milk, has significantly lower caloric and protein content.

Milk By the Number

So, if you’re going to replace cow’s milk with one of these plant-based milk, you need to be sure to increase protein and calorie intake from other food as well.

Another point to remember is that many infant and children who are allergic to cow’s milk are also sensitive to soy protein. About 60% to be exact. In these kids, replacing cow’s milk with soy milk will not solve the problem.

FODMAP and Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Fought what?!

FODMAPs is actually an acronym that stands for:

FODMAP Acronyms

What exactly are FODMAPs?

FODMAPs are small chain carbohydrates (sugars and fibers) that are commonly malabsorbed in the small intestine. Not all carbohydrates are considered FODMAPs.

The FODMAPs in the food are:

Fructose (fruits, honey, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), etc)

Lactose (dairy)
Fructans (wheat, garlic, onion, inulin etc)

Galactans (legumes such as beans, lentils, soybeans, etc)

Polyols (sweeteners containing isomalt, mannitol, sorbitol, xylitol, stone fruits such as avocado, apricots, cherries, nectarines, peaches, plums, etc)

High FODMAP foods to avoid

How do FODMAPs affect people with IBS?

FODMAPs are very small carbohydrates, which makes them osmotic, meaning they can pull water into the intestinal tract. They are not digested or absorbed well, allowing bacteria in the intestinal tract to ferment these small sugars.

Not all of these bacteria are bad. Some of these bacteria, yeast and single cell organisms can help you digest your food, create vitamins and help keep your immune system healthy.

When these microbes ferment FODMAPs, the gas they produce fills up and stretches your intestine; this can contribute to bloating, abdominal pain, and cramping in individuals with a sensitive GI tract. The combination of gas and water in the intestine can alter the movement of the intestine and contribute to diarrhea or constipation.

FODMAPs are like fast food for your gut microbes.

FODMAP illustration

How does a low FODMAP diet help?

A low FODMAP diet may help reduce symptoms by limiting foods high in fructose, lactose, fructans, galactans and polyols.

This diet will also limit fiber as some high fiber foods are also high in FODMAPs.

The low FODMAP diet is often used in those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It could possibly be used in those with similar symptoms caused by other digestive disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease.

The low FODMAP diet is a 2-6 week elimination diet that involves removing high FODMAP foods from the diet to assess whether FODMAP rich foods are triggering your IBS symptoms.

The goal of the diet is to help you determine your personal dietary triggers.

After the low FODMAP elimination diet phase, you will re-introduce some FODMAPs, in a methodical manner, to assess your tolerance to various FODMAP containing foods.

Many people may find they can liberalize their FODMAP diet restrictions and only need to restrict some high FODMAP foods.

Research has shown that a low FODMAP diet can relieve some IBS symptoms, such as gassiness, bloating, abdominal cramps, constipation, diarrhea, etc. An estimated 75% of individuals with IBS may benefit from dietary restriction of FODMAPs.

Low FODMAP Grocery List


Review food lists, collect recipes and go grocery shopping first. Once you are ready, start and follow the diet for 6 weeks.

Read food labels. Avoid foods made with high FODMAP fruits/vegetables, HFCS, honey, inulin, wheat, soy, etc. However, a food could be low in FODMAPs if a high FODMAP food is listed at the end of the ingredient list.

Buy gluten free grains as they do not have wheat, barley or rye in them. However, you do not need to be on a strict gluten free diet as the focus is to limit FODMAPs, not gluten.

Limit serving sizes for low lactose dairy to small amounts and low FODMAP fruits/vegetables to a 1⁄2 cup per meal (1⁄2 cup=size of a tennis ball) if you have symptoms after eating these foods. The symptoms could be related to eating large amounts of FODMAPs all at once.

Include low FODMAP foods rich in fiber such as oatmeal if you develop constipation while on the diet. Drink plenty of water as well.

After the trial is over, add high FODMAP foods one at a time back in the diet in small amounts to identify foods that could be "triggers" to your symptoms. Limit those foods if so.


Gluten free waffle with walnuts, blueberries, maple syrup without HFCS

Eggs scrambled with spinach, bell peppers and cheddar cheese

Oatmeal topped with sliced banana, almonds and brown sugar

Fruit smoothie blended with lactose free vanilla yogurt and strawberries (1⁄2 cup)

Rice pasta with chicken, tomatoes, spinach topped with pesto sauce

Chicken salad mixed with chicken, lettuce, bell peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, balsamic vinegar salad dressing without HFCS

Turkey wrap with gluten free tortilla, sliced turkey, lettuce, tomato, slice of cheddar cheese slice, mayonnaise, mustard

Ham and Swiss cheese sandwich on gluten free bread, with mayonnaise, mustard

Quesadilla with corn or gluten free tortilla and cheddar cheese

Beef and vegetable stew (made with homemade broth, beef, allowed vegetables)