If all disease begins in the gut, where does healing start? This 3-day gut cleanse plant paradox meal plan will reset the balance of your microbiome and help you kickstart the healing process. During these three days, you will eat not only nutritious food but food that is delicious and satisfying.
Can a 3-day gut cleanse reset your microbiome?
It’s not your fault that you are sick, tired, or overweight.
The bad bacteria in your gut have hijacked the relationship between your microbiome and your brain, making you crave the foods they need: sugars, unhealthy fats, junk food, and fast food. Generally called “dysbiosis”, which means an imbalance in your gut, this happens when your bad gut bacteria take over the good bacteria.
To re-establish the balance of your microbiome and give your digestive system a chance to reset, you need to feed your gut with the food that the bad guys don’t like but that the good guys thrive on.
Studies have shown that a 3-day gut cleanse can completely change the bacteria that inhabit your gut. However, the same studies have shown that the good guys leave within ten days of reverting to old dietary habits, making space for the bad guys again. (L. Thompson, Ph.D. – What Does a Three-Day Dietary Cleanse Do to Your Gut Microbiome?)
So, while the 3-day cleanse is exceptionally efficient at resetting your microbiome and kickstarting your healing journey, you will have to stick to clean eating habits and healthy lifestyle choices to improve your health and maintain vitality.
All disease begins in the gut.Hippocrates
What to expect?
While I’d love to tell you that all your health problems will magically disappear in these three days, that would not be true. Each person will react differently, depending on their current health status.
Some will feel the benefits immediately: weight loss (mostly water), lower inflammation, fewer GI symptoms, less pain, more energy and clarity of mind, and a stronger immune system.
I did feel all these when I started the plant paradox in August 2017. However, I also had episodes of sugar withdrawal symptoms: mostly weakness and dizziness. Hang in there; all this will pass.
Move your body during this gut cleanse, but please don’t do any strenuous physical activity. Walking in nature, light yoga, Thai chi will benefit you the most.
If you feel dizzy or weak, drink plenty of water with added salt or electrolytes. I can’t stress enough how important it is to drink enough water. Your body will eliminate toxins during these days, and you want them flushed out of your body, not recirculated into your system. And that requires proper hydration.
If you feel hungry, you can eat more food from the approved list, but keep the animal protein to 8oz max a day and have a maximum of one avocado a day. Also, keep the nuts to 1/4 cup a day.
Boring (and not so healthy) cleanses
The problem with short-term cleanses is that they are boring and leave you so sad and unsatisfied that you will not want to continue after three days. I cringe when I see the boring salads with green lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, and peppers, and maybe some grated carrots and a side of rice crackers as the ultimate “detox food.”
The food you will eat during this 3-day plant paradox gut cleanse is not only healthy but tasty and satisfying. It’s real, nutritious food that will give your body the nutrients it needs to kickstart the healing process.
While you might still experience some form of sugar withdrawal, depending on your addiction level, you will feel like eating healthy is not that bad, and you will want to continue that way, especially if you have a strong motivation for regaining or maintaining your health.
What is the plant paradox?
The plant paradox is a healthy lifestyle guideline created by Dr. Steven Gundry, outlined in the book The Plant Paradox – The Hidden Dangers in Healthy Foods That Cause Disease and Weight Gain, published in April 2017. The lifestyle is constructed on a few premises:
- Lectins, large proteins found in plants and animals, can cause toxic or inflammatory reactions. Gluten is a type of lectin. Avoiding lectins, at least for a while, will help heal leaky gut and restore the balance in your gut.
- Sugar and seed oils are highly inflammatory.
- You are what you eat, ate. Animals not fed a natural diet and raised in natural conditions appropriate to their specie are not a good source of protein.
- Other health disruptors are wreaking havoc in your body, and your exposure to them should be limited as much as possible. They are antibiotics, NSAIDs, stomach-acid blockers, artificial sweeteners, endocrine disruptors found in cosmetic and cleaning products, artificial fragrances, heavy metals found in food and water, and pesticides. Toxic packaging and cooking ware are a source of endocrine disruptors and heavy metals.
When you do a gut cleanse, do your best to detox from all the disruptors, not only unhealthy food.
For a complete understanding of the role lectins play in gut health, and why the plant paradox is a solid foundation for a healthy lifestyle, I recommend reading the book.
So, what’s on the menu (the ‘YES please’ foods)
Back to the 3 day gut reset cleanse; what’s on the menu? While I will give you plenty of suggestions for meals and preparation methods, you can personalize this plan, as long as you stick to the below list of foods.
This 3-day gut cleanse is a 100% whole foods based cleanse. Prioritize organic, locally grown, best quality produce and animal protein you can get.
From a macros perspective, this 3-day gut cleanse is:
- high in fiber and prebiotic foods
- moderate in complex carbohydrates (all the vegetables are carbs)
- low in protein
- high in anti-inflammatory foods
- moderate fat (healthy fats)
- low in calorie
- nutritionally dense
While calorie counting is not part of the plant paradox program (on the contrary) – the cleanses are based on the premise that a regular, short-term, calorie-restricted cleanse has enormous benefits for your mitochondria. You can read more about a 5-day fast-mimicking cleanse in this article:
This cleanse is also Whole30 compliant.
- Pasture-raised chicken and wild-caught salmon (maximum 8oz a day, weighted cooked).
- Your best bet to find pasture-raised chicken is local farms or health grocery stores. Otherwise, check this article for more information on pasture-raised chicken and where to find it. If you can’t find wild-caught salmon, small, wild-caught fish, like sardines, is an option, even if they are canned.
- Avoid fish high in mercury, such as tuna.
- Vegan options: mushrooms, hemp seeds, asparagus
Vegetables, fruits, herbs, and spices
- Cruciferous vegetables are high on the priority list. Have any type of cabbage, bok choy, broccoli, broccolini, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, or mustard greens.
- Any type of lettuce, and green leaves vegetables like Swiss chard, chard, spinach, dandelion
- The chicory family: Belgian endives, curly endive, frisée, radicchio
- Other non-starchy vegetables: asparagus, artichokes, jicama, garlic, all types of onion, okra, kohlrabi
- Fruits: avocado, lime, and lemons (no other fruit is allowed for the 3-day cleanse)
- Others: mushrooms, seaweed
- All herbs: thyme, rosemary, oregano, mint, parsley, cilantro, etc
- Spices: keep it simple; you can use good quality spices such as peppercorns, coriander, turmeric, ginger, cumin
- Salt: generously use a good quality salt naturally rich in iodine and other trace minerals, like Himalayan pink salt and Redmond real sea salt. You can also use a good quality iodized sea salt (without dextrose or other fillers). You need salt because when you remove all processed foods, you will remove the main source of salt in your diet.
- Fermented foods like sauerkraut or fermented mixed vegetables
Fats, oils, seeds, and nuts
- Avocados and olives are great sources of healthy fats for the 3-day cleanse.
- Kalamata olives tend to be the best choice as they usually don’t have seed oils or preservatives added. Go for a jar version, where you can read the ingredients instead of the olive bar.
- Use avocado oil, coconut oil, macadamia nut oil, sesame seed oil, MCT oil, perilla oil, hemp seeds oil, extra virgin olive oil
- Nuts are only approved as a snack if you need something between meals, but only 1/4 cup.
- Hemp seeds are allowed and are a great addition to all your meals, especially if you are doing a vegan version of this cleanse.
Seasonings and condiments
- You can use any of the above oils, herbs, spices, apple cider vinegar, or another good quality vinegar.
- Drink about 100oz (3 liters) of filtered, mineral, or spring water daily. You can drink warm water or room temperature water, but avoid drinking iced or cold water.
- You can drink black coffee and tea.
- Green smoothies are your breakfast if you decide not to fast.
What’s OFF the menu (the ‘NO please’ foods)
While some of these foods are included in the plant paradox lifestyle, they are OFF the menu for the 3-day cleanse:
- all processed and packaged foods
- fruits, other than the ones on the YES list above
- all starchy vegetables
- all vegetables from the nightshade family
- all legumes and beans
- all grains and pseudo-grains
- all high lectins and gluten foods
- all inflammatory vegetable oils
- all sugars and sweeteners
- while very healthy, starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes should be kept off the menu for these three days
Suggested meal plan for 3-day plant paradox cleanse
Day 1 meals
- Day 1 Breakfast: Green smoothie
- Day 1 Lunch: Salmon with capers-lemon sauce with roasted Brussel sprouts on a bed of lettuce
- Day 1 Dinner: Chicken with roasted cauliflower and garlic, with Romaine’s hearts
Day 2 meals
- Day 2 Breakfast: Green smoothies
- Day 2 Lunch: Avocado and salmon boats with arugula and broccolini (or leftover roasted veggies)
- Day 2 Dinner: Buddha bowl with chicken, Swiss chard, cabbage salad, and avocado
Day 3 meals
- Day 3 Breakfast: Green smoothie
- Day 3 Lunch: A big bowl of salad with greens, veggies, and leftover chicken
- Day 3 Dinner: Turmeric cauliflower rice with mushrooms and salmon
Vegan meals suggestions:
- replace animal protein with mushrooms, hemp seeds, and add more vegetables to your meals
- Sprinkle hemp seeds on all your meals
Planning, meal preparation, and storing: cooking fish and chicken
While you can freshly cook your animal protein every day, it’s also ok to batch cook it if you have limited time and want to save your energy for other things.
You can cook your fish on the first day of the cleanse, before lunch, and have warm fish for lunch. Then you batch-cook the chicken before dinner and have chicken for dinner.
Please use only cast iron, ceramic coated, glass, or stainless steel for cooking. Don’t use non-stick cookware or anything that has scratches on it.
Save the remaining two servings of fish and chicken and store them in air-tight glass containers in the fridge. Both chicken and fish can be reheated, mixed with other meals, or eaten cold.
You can also store leftovers of roasted, steamed, or sauteed vegetables if you have some left.
In the next two days, you will have lunch and dinner made with the leftover salmon and chicken in different combinations with the vegetables on the YES list or the ones I suggest in the shopping list below.
You can just throw everything in a big bowl of salad and call it a day. This plan allows for a lot of flexibility, and you can adapt it to suit your lifestyle.
Make sure you pick three days when you don’t have important work projects, events, visitors, or social events planned.
Remember that health is not all about food. Practice mindfulness, meditation, yoga, or whatever makes your soul happy. Eat slowly and chew well. Be grateful. Connect with nature. Sleep well.
Your breakfast. The green smoothie recipe
The green smoothie will be your breakfast for the three days. You can use my green smoothie recipe – Green Dream, the Plant Paradox Smoothie. For the 3-day gut cleanse, I would skip the coconut oil and replace it with MCT oil.
I recommend making it fresh every morning, but if you don’t have time, you can prepare a double or a triple portion at once.
Considering all my recommendations for meals, these are the main items that you can include in your shopping list:
- 12oz wild-caught salmon
- 12oz pastured chicken
- One avocado for each day
- One romaine lettuce for each day
- Cabbage, any type (I prefer purple because it adds some color)
- Swiss shard
- Portobello mushrooms or other mushrooms (as sides or to replace the animal protein if plant-based)
- Brussel sprouts
- Broccolini or broccoli
- Mixed olives (that are not marinated in non-compliant oils)
- Red onions
- Iodized sea salt
- Avocado oil
- Grass-fed ghee (optional, can be replaced by avocado oil)
- Extra virgin olive oil
- A good quality vinegar
- Lemons (organic if you want to use the zest)
Recipe: Salmon with capers-lemon sauce
Cut a 12 oz wild-caught king salmon fillet into three equal portions, or use 3 fillets. Cook it in a cast iron pan (or any ovenproof skillet) in avocado oil, skin down for about 4 minutes, and transfer it to the oven at 375F to finish cooking for another 15-20 minutes. The time depends on the thickness of your salmon. Make sure you don’t overcook it. You can have the first serving warm, and store the other two for the next meals.
For extra flavor, make a capers-lemon sauce by warming 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a saucepan, and add 1 tablespoon of capers, one minced garlic clove, zest from one lemon, 1 or 2 tablespoons lemon juice, a few tablespoons of fresh chopped parsley. Add the sauce to your cooked salmon.
Lunch for day 1: Salmon with capers-lemon sauce with roasted Brussel sprouts on a bed of lettuce
To make lunch for day one, roast Brussel sprouts and mushrooms at 375F, in avocado oil, salt, and pepper, for about 30-40 minutes and add to your salmon, on a bed of greens (I like romaine lettuce crispy hearts for this).
For a vegan version, pair the lemon-capers sauce with your choice of mushrooms and sprinkle hemp seeds on top and serve with roasted vegetables and salad.
Recipe: Oven-baked chicken with herbs
Use about 4oz of chicken for each meal: breast, thighs, or a combination. You can even cook a full chicken, split it into 4oz portions and freeze it for later meals. For the 3-day cleanse, you will need 12oz of pasture-raised chicken (weighted without bones, cooked).
Rub the chicken with a mix of herbs and spices, such as dry or fresh rosemary and sage, mustard powder, rosemary, sea salt, and pepper. Add lemon juice, lemon zest, and avocado oil, and let marinate in the fridge for one hour or so. Cook at 375F in the oven for about 30 minutes, depending on what pieces you use and how big they are. You can check if ready by cutting with a knife next to a bone or on the thicker side of the breast and make sure the flesh is white, not pink.
Dinner for day 1: Chicken with roasted cauliflower and garlic, with Romaine’s hearts
While the chicken is cooking, you can roast cauliflower florets seasoned with sea salt and pepper, with smashed whole garlic cloves and drizzled with any of the approved oils. 375F works perfectly for cauliflower and garlic. It takes about the same time to cook as the chicken. I used one head of cauliflower and about eight garlic cloves, skin on.
Lunch for Day 2: Avocado and salmon boats with arugula and broccolini (or leftover roasted veggies)
For the next day’s lunch, fill one or two halves of avocado with one of the salmon fillets, add on a bed of greens, like arugula and spinach, drizzle olive or avocado oil, lemon, salt, and pepper. Add fresh or marinated red onions and a few capers. You might have some leftovers Brussel sprouts, and/or mushrooms to add to your bowl.
This is a big portion, and you may not be able to eat all in one go; keep the leftovers and have them later when you get hungry (you probably will).
Another side that goes really well with salmon is sautéed broccolini (baby broccoli). Just sauté them in avocado oil, with one smashed garlic clove, covered (they only need a few minutes, they cook nicely and quickly in their own steam). If you can’t have avocado, add more veggies to your plate.
If you can’t find broccolini, you can use steamed or sauteed broccoli.
Dinner for day 2: Buddha bowl with chicken, Swiss chard, cabbage salad, and avocado
Another meal I put together using the pre-cooked chicken was a bowl of sautéed swiss chard (you find the recipe for the sauteed Swiss chard here), half avocado, a few olives, marinated red onions, and one of my favorite salads ever, cabbage salad (I used purple but the white one can be as good). To make the salad, finely slice the cabbage, massage it on the cutting board with salt, add it to a bowl, add avocado or olive oil, apple cider vinegar, and pepper (all to your taste).
Marinated red onions are great for toppings
Finely slice two halves of red onion and add them to a jar with extra virgin olive oil, a good quality red wine vinegar (about one tablespoon), and lots of dry oregano. Keep it on the counter for a few days, and use both the onions and the marinade to top every meal.
Okra chips, cauliflower, and artichoke hummus
If you have time for more experimentation and cooking, I recommend okra chips, cauliflower, and artichoke hummus.
To make the okra chips (which have powerful anti-lectin properties), wash and dry them, cut them length-wise in half, season with salt and pepper, and if you want some garlic powder, bake for 20 minutes at 450F, on parchment paper.
Cook them first open face down for 15 minutes, flip each piece and cook for another 5 minutes, but keep an eye on them as they will burn easily).
I have posted the cauliflower and artichoke hummus previously, so you can find the recipe here.
More meal ideas for the 3-day plant paradox gut cleanse
Turmeric Cauliflower Rice with Mushrooms and Salmon
Slice mushrooms and add them to a skillet with avocado oil, and cook for a few minutes until they start releasing moisture. Grate a thumb-size turmeric root, add it to the mushrooms, add the cauliflower rice, and cook for a few more minutes (3, 4 minutes). Add the shredded pre-cooked salmon at the end, and some salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with a romaine salad with red radishes, half avocado, red marinated onions, all drizzled with olive oil and lemon.
Sautéed Bok Choy with Maitake Mushrooms
This meal is perfect for when you don’t feel like having animal protein or if you make this cleanse vegan: Sautéed Bok Choi with Maitake Mushrooms (or Hen-Of-The-Woods).
You will need two skillets for this as the bok choi takes a lot of space. Sauté the bok choi in avocado oil, for about 8-10 minutes, with a lid on.
Sauté the mushrooms in avocado oil, with one whole (peeled and smashed) garlic clove, until golden brown (it takes about 8 minutes). Covered the pan with a lid while cooking. Finish with a drizzle of Modena balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper.
Serve with half avocado, and marinated red onions, and drizzle with lime and olive oil.
Mushroom and cabbage steak with asparagus
Mushroom and cabbage steaks can be prepared in the oven, in the same dish/pan: season with salt and pepper, add some fennel seeds to the cabbage and cook with avocado oil for about 25 minutes at 400F. Finish with a 3-minute broil at 450F. Asparagus can be broiled at 450F in avocado oil for about 5 minutes, with salt and pepper. You can serve this dish with balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.
Salmon Avocado Tartare
And if by any chance you want to go super fancy during the cleanse, you should try this Salmon Avocado Tartare recipe. It’s delicious and, believe it or not, makes for a good candidate for a plant paradox cleanse.
An Ayurveda-inspired 3-day cleanse
Maybe this Ayurveda-inspired cleanse resonates more with you. There is only one dish you need to prepare – a low-lectin kitchari recipe – which you will eat for three days. This meal is soothing and provides a great digestive reset. It’s a 100% plant-based cleanse, and if you strictly follow the three plant paradox phases, it’s phase-3 compliant.
*This post contains affiliated links, which means I get a small commission if you choose to purchase something via one of my links, at no extra cost to you.