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An Important Health Process

The simplest way to understand symptoms and disease integrates Western linear thinking, Chinese medicine and its philosophy of yin and yang, and the naturopathic approach to health and illness. In fact this integration I refer to as NEW Medicine with the N-E-W standing for Natural, Eastern, and Western healing approaches and applies to many health conditions; all of this is reviewed in my new book, Staying Healthy with NEW Medicine.

Problems in the body (and mind) often arise from either deficiency, where we are not acquiring sufficient necessary nutrients to meet our needs and body functions; and the other side is congestion, where we are having excessive intake, both from reduced eliminative functions and the over-consumption of foods or non-food substances, such as caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, refined sugar and food chemicals.

People who are deficient may experience such problems as fatigue, coldness, hair loss or dry skin, and they need to be nourished with wholesome foods to aid healing. Congestive problems, however, are more common in Western, industrialized civilizations. Many of our acute and chronic medical diseases and dilemmas result from the clogging of our tissues and tubes, and the suffocating of our cells and vital energy. Colds and flus to cancer and cardiovascular diseases, arthritis and allergies are all examples of congestive disorders.

These medical problems may be prevented or treated at least in part and often dramatically by embarking on a process of cleansing and detoxification. The incorporation of dietary changes, including consumption of more fresh fruits, vegetables and water while reducing animal fats and proteins and eliminating any damaging substances, especially those overused or abused, helps begin the rejuvenation process for the human body. This was discovered long ago and is still true today even though medical science may make light of it in deference to the quick solution to major diseases.

I consider the cleansing/fasting/detoxification process (they are different degrees of the same process of reduced toxin intake and enhanced toxin elimination) to be the missing link in Western nutrition and a key to the health and vitality of our civilization. In my forty years of medical practice in which I have utilized extensively various detox and healing/rejuvenation practices for both myself and literally thousands of patients, I can tell you that I truly believe that cleansing and detoxification is virtually one of the most powerful healing (real healing of ailments and not just suppression of symptoms) therapies I have seen.

I have written extensively about detoxification, as can be seen in the last section of my 1100-page Staying Healthy With Nutrition book and which is the focus of my book, The Detox Diet: The Complete Guide for Lifelong Vitality with Recipes, Menus, & Detox Plans, wherein I discuss both the medical and health factors of the cleansing process. The basics of the Detox Diet follow here to give you the general ideas of what is involved. In truth, what I attempt to do in my writing and practice is to place your health and that of your family back into your hands, because so much of it is up to you. It really matters how you live—what you do and what you eat, and what you think and feel. Take hold and do what you can to be vital and healthy. It is really worth it!

What are your SNACC Habits?

I use the detox process to help people break habits, and I love the acronym SNACCs to stand for Sugar, Nicotine, Alcohol, Caffeine and Chemicals. Most people in our modern societies are not living as naturally as they might for best health. From what I see at speaking events, about 90 percent of people are using substances to either stimulate their energy or sedate them to rest and relax. We use caffeine daily and sugar to push us on, and then alcohol, cannabis, other drugs, or big meals to calm us down. When this is not done in balance or we don’t sleep well or are sick, we may even need more SNACCs, and then we run our body down. I often see this and the common results of Fatigue and Insomnia, Depression and Anxiety.

The idea that I embrace is that we should have a proper relationship to any substances, and even foods, that we ingest regularly, especially the ones that can be affecting our health in not all positive ways. Of course, everything, be it coffee, wine, sugar, or even a cigarette, have some positive effects; otherwise, we wouldn’t use them. Yet, when we become dependent and need them to make it through our day, it’s wise to schedule a break. Typically, it takes two to three weeks to shift habits, and then you can see how you feel without your usual. It’s like any bad relationship; we can’t always see it or appreciate how it affected us until we are away from it. The detox process allows us to have this experience. One of the ways to calm the body down and support it is with a detoxifying diet.

Here’s The Detox Diet Menu from my The Detox Diet book.


  1. Chew your food very well and take enough time when you eat.
  2. Relax a few minutes before and after your meal.
  3. Eat in a comfortable sitting position.
  4. Eat primarily steamed fresh vegetables and some fresh greens.
  5. Take only herbal teas after dinner.


Morning (upon arising): Two glasses of water (filtered, spring, or reverse osmosis), one glass with half a lemon squeezed into it.

Breakfast: One piece of fresh fruit (at room temp), such as apple, pear, banana, grapes, or citrus. Chew well, mixing each bite with saliva.

15–30 minutes later: One bowl of cooked whole grains–specifically millet, brown rice, amaranth, quinoa, raw buckwheat, or buckwheat.

Flavoring can be two tablespoons of fruit juice for a sweeter breakfast taste, or use the “better butter” mixture mentioned below with a little salt or tamari for a deeper flavor.

Lunch (Noon–1 PM) One–two medium bowls of steamed vegetables; use a variety, including roots, stems, and greens–e.g., potatoes and yams, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, beets, asparagus, kale, chard, and cabbage. CHEW WELL!

Dinner (5–6 PM) Same as lunch

Seasoning—Butter/olive oil mix or flaxseed oil. Make this “better butter” by mixing a half-cup of cold-pressed canola oil (or olive or flaxseed oils) into a soft (room temperature) half-pound of butter; then place in dish and refrigerate. Use about one teaspoon per meal or a maximum of three teaspoons daily.

11 AM and 3 PM—One–two cups veggie water, saved from steamed vegetables. Add a little sea salt or kelp and drink slowly, mixing each mouthful with saliva.

Evening: Herbal teas only— e.g., peppermint, chamomile, pau d’arco, or blends.

This works best doing this diet for 2–3 weeks. It helps calm down inflammation and alkalinize the body. Many symptoms lessen or disappear.

NOTE on protein intake: You may feel a little weak or have a few symptoms the first couple of days; this will pass. Clarity and feeling good should appear by day three or four, if not before. If during this diet, you start to feel weak or hungry, assess your water intake and elimination; if needed, you can eat a small portion of protein food (3–4 ounces) in the mid-afternoon. This could be fish; free-range, organic chicken; or some beans, such as lentil, garbanzo, mung, or black beans.

Elson M. Haas, MD

Elson M. Haas, MD is a medical practitioner with nearly 40 years experience in patient care, always with in an interest in natural medicine. For the past 30 years, he has been instrumental in the development and practice of Integrated Medicine at the Preventive Medical Center of Marin (PMCM), which he founded in 1984 and where he is the Medical Director. Dr Haas has been perfecting a model of healthcare that integrates sophisticated Western diagnostics and Family Medicine with time-honored natural therapies from around the world.

This educating, writing doctor is also the author of many books including Staying Healthy with Nutrition: The Complete Guide to Diet and Nutritional Medicine, 21st Century Edition, The NEW Detox Diet: The Complete Guide for Lifelong Vitality with Recipes, Menus, & Detox Plans and more. His latest book is Staying Healthy with NEW Medicine which integrates Natural, Eastern, and Western Approaches for Optimal Health. Visit his website for more information on his work, books and to sign up for his newsletter.