With so many different diets to choose, have you ever thought about going on a detoxification diet? It's not one that many of us talk about or perhaps even know that much about. But having approached the subject, how many of you know that your body has an extremely intelligent and natural detoxification system already in place? For example - Your liver, kidneys and various other organs of the digestive system spearhead some major detoxification processes. When working as they should, they rid your body of dangerous toxins and other harmful free radicals that can cause some serious health problems if left unmanaged.
These days we hear so much about toxins and detoxification but what exactly are these blighters and is there a solution to the problem? To get a better understanding, toxins can be broken up into two types. One is known as endogenous and the other is exogenous.
Endogenous toxins are by-products of metabolism and energy production. They occur as part of the process of living and can be used-up hormones, by-products of exercise or metabolites of energy production.
Exogenous toxins come from the environment like cigarettes, mould, pollen, chlorine from water, insecticides, and pesticides from food, alcohol, caffeine, medication and chemicals from plastics and cosmetics. Wow! can all this be for real? You might also be asking yourself what other dangers are lurking in your backyard.
The western diets we seem so comfortable with is often at odds with good detoxification for one simple reason. They are predominantly low on fresh organic produce, low in fibre and high in sugar and preservatives, often leaving us short on vital nutrients, water and fibre, all the life-saving ingredients we need.
When toxic metabolites accumulate they cause symptoms like low energy levels, bad breath, foul-smelling stools, PMS or other issues related to hormonal imbalances, low immunity (more than two colds a year), brain fog or the inability to think clearly, worsened hangovers and even acne.
There are many variations of cleanses and detoxes. My approach would be to enhance the system of your detoxification diet. This means to eliminate foods that increase the burden on the liver, remove or limit possible allergens, provide support for organs and improve digestion and bowel transit time.
A spring cleanse can be anything from three days, although 15 to 20 days is optimal, and a month is ideal. A cleanse should never be stressful and can be accomplished by the following:
1) Eating at least 6 to 8 portions of fresh organic fruits and vegetables daily. More vegetables being more favourable. Vegetables provide nutrients needed by the liver. Vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale and cabbage stimulate the phases of liver detoxification. Smoothies are also a great way to get nutrients and plant fibre.
2) Focus on eating plenty of fibre-rich foods to establish good digestive elimination. Oats, lentils, chickpeas, brown rice and quinoa provide fibre and B vitamins. Whole grains and legumes also provide a broad spectrum of amino acids. They are great replacements for animal protein.
3) Drink 1 to 2 litres of filtered water daily. If you're eating enough plant-based food and little, if any meat products, you'd be eating a lot of water through your food source and therefore, there would be no need to drink as much water. Decaffeinated teas like fennel, ginger, nettle mint and liquorice root also count and nourish the detoxification organs.
4) Eat portions of raw food daily. These contain powerful enzymes that help you digest food more easily.
5) Avoid things like caffeine, alcohol and smoking and common allergens such as dairy and gluten. All these can aggravate your digestive system and increase the toxic load on your liver.
When starting a detoxification diet, some of you may find that you get withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal from caffeine could bring headaches and, as your body starts to release toxins, you may feel a little fatigued and have flu-like symptoms. This is normal and shouldn't last longer than 3 to 4 days. Adding nutritious whole foods won't damage your health but if you're on any medication or should you be pregnant, tell your GP you are changing your diet.
If going on a detoxification diet seems like deprivation, you might want to try a light form of detox by adding a few supplements and lifestyle innovations that will help keep your body running optimally.
1) Add more Fibre. Eat organically-grown fresh fruits and vegetables like broccoli, radishes, artichokes, cabbage and beetroot. Eat unrefined brown rice and seaweed as well as spirulina and chlorella all of which are excellent detox foods.
2) Support your Liver. Herbs or tea that includes dandelion root, burdock, milk thistle and green teas are excellent.
3) Include Vitamin C. This will help the body make glutathione, a liver compound that gets rid of toxins.
4) Drink more water. Find a supply of fresh spring water, use ozonated, spring or mineral water or invest in a good filter.
5) Increase your Air Quality. Try to avoid air-conditioning and recycled air. Try to get as much fresh air and breath it deeply into your lungs. This will help oxygen circulate through your system.
6) Focus more Positively. Drop negative emotions, resentment, anger and angst in favour of positive, loving and kind thoughts and feelings. If need be, use natural meditation to help you if you're feeling challenged by this.
7) Generate some Sweat. Make time to do regular exercise. This will help your body eliminate waste through perspiration.
8) Make your Heart Beep. Do some cardio whether it's skipping, running, walking uphill cycling or dancing. Get your heart rate up for at least a few minutes every couple of days.
9) Dry Brush or Scrub. Use a dry brush on your skin or a good body scrub to exfoliate and allow your skin to remove toxins through your pores.
Please take note that the information on this site is designed for educational purposes and is intended solely for general readership. The contents herein are not intended to offer any personal medical advice or to diagnose any health issues you may have. This information is also by no means a substitute for medical care by a licensed healthcare provider. For that, you'd need to consult your medical doctor or a health care practitioner for any advice should you require prescription medication.