Subway got slammed a few months ago, when it was revealed that the same chemical used in yoga mats was used in its bread. What you might not realize is that chemical ~ azodicarbonamide ~ is found in nearly 500 other foods.

According to Dr. Woodson Merrell’s new book, The Detox Prescription, there are more than 80,000 chemicals produced and used in the U.S., and scientists have only studied about 200 of them. Merrell further states that according to the Centers for Disease Control, we have an average of 153 industrial chemicals in our bodies.



While most people engage in detox diets to drop pounds, Merrell’s Detox Prescription plan (the first science-based detox, which can be done in three-, seven- or 21-day cleanses) focuses on a holistic experience. For people to truly change their lives, they must detox mentally and physically. And no, you won’t starve ~ The Detox Prescription starts with a three-day juice cleanse and reintroduces solid foods until individuals are following a vegan, plant-based diet.

DetoxAThe Detox Prescription isn’t just about weight loss; it’s about clearing the toxins out of your body and environment. It’s surprising how many chemicals we invite into our lives via cleaning supplies (soap and water will usually do the job), scented lotions and perfumes, plastic Tupperware, cell phones … the list goes on. Chemicals are everywhere in our lives. They’re in our air, our water and our food. According to Merrell, about 70 percent of diseases are the effects of our environment and health choices, while as few as 10 percent are genetic. In 2013, the World Health Organization released a statement claiming outdoor air pollution is a leading cause of cancer deaths.

While The Detox Prescription seems easy to follow (Dr. Merrell lays out a flexible plan that doesn’t leave much room for excuses), detoxing might not be for you. The book is packed with information and healthful recipes, but if reading isn’t your thing, here are five highlights so you can still reap some of the book’s benefits:

  1. Digestion starts in the mouth ~ My mom always told me to eat slower, and I’ve never really understood why until Merrell explained that by chewing slowly you help break down the food before it enters the stomach. If you don’t chew enough, food enters your system in chunks, and your body must overwork itself to break down and digest it.
  2. Eat organic when possible ~ According to the Environmental Working Group (, you can lower your pesticide intake by avoiding the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables, a.k.a. the “Dirty Dozen”: apples, celery, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, grapes, hot peppers, nectarines (imported), peaches, potatoes, spinach, strawberries and sweet bell peppers.
  3. Taste the rainbow ~ Merrell encourages individuals to eat something from every color group daily, as each one provides different nutrients, and eating a variety of colors ensures you’ll get everything you need.
  4. Beef isn’t just bad for you, it’s bad for everyone ~ Steak is admittedly my favorite food, but the fact that we could essentially solve the world’s hunger problem by redistributing the grain used to raise cattle is kind of alarming (as well as the fact that raising beef is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions).
  5. Sweat more ~ Sweating releases toxins through the skin. Hit the gym or the sauna for a better body inside and out.

Most importantly, The Detox Prescription doesn’t demand perfection. Merrell knows nobody is perfect; you just have to do the best you can.

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By Kimberly Dunbar