How you can restore your gastrointestinal tract for wholesome weight reduction

Would you like to enjoy a magical summer with high energy, pain-free joints, healthy sleep, vanishing love handles and radiant general health? Then start with a little spring cleaning for your gut, suggests nutrition pro JJ Virgin, who for 25 years has been helping women repair their gastrointestinal tract to trigger head-to-toe transformations.

It turns out that most of us eat at least one food that our systems don’t tolerate well, leading to chronic inflammation in the sensitive digestive lining. “Inflamed tissue releases chemicals that suppress metabolism and pretty much every aspect of health.”

Luckily, Virgin’s tricks make it easy to track down the culprits and heal damage. “Your tummy can be noticeably flatter in three days — and weight loss and health improvements continue to increase thereafter,” she says. “I had a girl whose friends literally thought she had plastic surgery. The difference is fast and remarkable!”

Note: Talk to your doctor before trying any weight loss or new diet.

Nutrition pro JJ Virgin, 58, lost pounds with her own plan!

Why repairing your gastrointestinal tract can help

How come we find it difficult to tolerate certain foods? Experts say there are many reasons. For example, a microscopic piece of cheese can leak out of the gut, and we develop antibodies to attack it every time we eat dairy products. We may also simply have trouble breaking down certain proteins, like the gluten in wheat, because our digestive enzymes naturally weaken as we age, notes Vincent Pedre, MD. Virgin adds that any of us can develop an intolerance at any time; Symptoms include abdominal upset, constipation, skin problems, fatigue, pain, and weight gain.

To narrow down which foods might be a problem for you, Virgin recommends temporarily eliminating gluten, soy, dairy, egg, corn, peanuts, and refined or artificial sweeteners. “I’ve found that these are the ingredients that women are most likely to have a problem with, so get them all out at the beginning,” she explains. “The key is to ideally rest your GI tract for three to four weeks and then test foods one at a time. You can add any that don’t cause symptoms.”

Delicious Healing

While you’re resting and repairing your gastrointestinal tract, base your meals around everything healthy, especially anti-inflammatory options like high-fiber items, fish rich in omega-3s, and good fats. “I’m a big fan of once or twice a day shakes because they allow you to sneak in flax, kale, coconut milk and other anti-inflammatory ingredients that you might not otherwise be getting,” shares Virgin.

Bonus: The blender breaks everything down so your digestive system has less work to do. For the same reason, Virgin lets you elapse at least 12 hours between dinner one day and breakfast the next. “It gives your gastrointestinal tract a break so it’s much easier for your body to heal any damage.”

Why Virgin’s tips can help reduce belly fat

Anytime a part of us is irritated or inflamed, the body draws fluid to the area as a buffer against further injury. “If your GI tract is inflamed, keep fluid around your abdomen,” says Virgin. “You lose that ‘water weight’ when the inflammation goes down.”

Increasing research is also showing that belly fat and gut problems are closely linked. One reason: Inflamed tissue “talks” to the immune system by releasing so-called cytokines. The problem is that too many cytokines interfere with insulin, making it difficult for the hormone to get blood sugar into cells to be burned for energy. “Instead, most of the sugar ends up in belly fat,” reveals Virgin. Also, because insulin isn’t doing its job well, we produce extra – and excess insulin blocks the burning of stored fat.

Fortunately, “healing the gut reverses the problem,” says Virgin. Also, everything works better when the inflammation subsides. Virgin notes, “People hold on to the way I eat because it makes them feel great!”

Kellie Bigelow’s story

When Kellie Bigelow’s naturopathic daughter introduced her to The Virgin Diet, she was hospitalized several times a year for diverticulitis, an inflammatory bowel disease. “I had read so many diet books, but this one seemed written just for me,” recalls the 57-year-old Michigan grandmother. She was soon trading her usual milk, bread, and eggs for healing shakes, sweet potato muffins, and grass-fed burgers. Her stomach ache subsided – and the scales dropped. “I went down a size every few weeks. It’s been really motivating after being difficult all my life.” To a weight where she’s happy, Kellie’s gut seems to have healed. Her diabetes also reversed. “JJ Virgin saved my life,” she says. “I’ll eat like this forever. I haven’t felt this good since my early 20s!”

Learn more at The Virgin Diet or at

Leslie Mayorga’s Success Story

Leslie Mayorga before and after weight lossBefore and afterChristopher Carder; Hair, make-up and stylist Donna Martin

Leslie Mayorga lived on take-out junk while helping to care for her disabled granddaughter, and Leslie Mayorga’s weight rose to 250 pounds. She was having trouble moving and her heartburn was getting worse. “Tests showed my esophagus was eroded,” recalls the retired nurse, 61. “All the sugar I was eating was flammable, but I knew it was more than that.” So Leslie went on an elimination diet and replaced inflammatory foods with soothing plant-based veggies, fruits, beans, and burgers. She also finished dinner early, allowing her system to rest overnight. Without limiting portions, Leslie lost weight in the first month. Within 12 weeks, she was sleeping comfortably and her reflux medication was cut in half. “I’m very proud to be strong enough to carry my 42-pound granddaughter,” says Leslie, who has reached a weight she’s happy with in a year. “This is life changing!”

Funfetti smoothie

Looking for a tasty recipe that incorporates Virgin’s tips? Try this smoothie with your favorite protein powder!

Ingredients (for one person):

  • 1 can of full-fat coconut milk, refrigerated overnight
  • Powdered stevia to taste
  • 2 scoops of protein powder
  • 1 tablespoon coconut butter
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter
  • 10 ounces unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract
  • All-natural rainbow sprinkles

Scoop solids from the top of the coconut milk into a bowl. add sweetener; beat until stiff peaks form. Put aside. In the blender, blitz 5 ice cubes and all remaining ingredients except sprinkles. Pour into glass; Add toppings.

This article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.

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