When you hear the word detox it may have a whole host of meanings depending on who’s talking, and possibly what they’re selling. Our bodies are detoxifying every minute of every day to eliminate unwanted substances from the body. How efficient our body is able to isolate and eliminate these substances is essential for vibrant health. One way to think about it is we are what we eat, drink, breathe, touch and can’t eliminate!
With thousands of industrial chemicals currently in use, your liver, kidneys, lungs, colon, lymph system and skin all need support in getting rid of these contaminants. No one detoxification protocol exists, resulting in a wide variety of diets and supplements.
Following a food-restricted detox such as drinking only juice that doesn’t provide the nutrients to support detoxification can leave you feeling ill and potentially increase your toxic burden in the process. But a proper detoxification program has many benefits including increased energy, improved mental clarity, reduced body pains, more efficient digestion, and weight loss.
In general terms, the detoxification process involves two phases. Phase I enzyme activities include oxidation, reduction, and hydrolysis reactions that “activate” a toxin to an unstable form. In phase II, these toxins are conjugated with compounds that usher them out of the body in urine, feces, sweat, and breath.
Detox Nutrition Basics
Detoxification is an important part of health and healing, and the foods and nutrients you choose will ensure that you experience few symptoms with maximum results.
First and most important, if you suffer from constipation, get your bowels moving daily before you start a detoxification diet. Increasing your body’s ability to release toxins only to have them get reabsorbed in the colon will only compound your symptoms. In addition, undigested proteins, fats, and starches in a sluggish color can become toxins.
What should you include in a smart detox diet?
Start with drinking plenty of purified water, at least 64 ounces per day. Staying hydrated with help maximize detoxification by flushing out toxins through your kidneys and will help keep your digestion regular.
A smart detox includes eating a whole foods diet that contains the nutrients your body needs to enhance detoxification pathways. Here are some of the key foods and nutrients to consider.
Lean protein – the amino acids in protein foods will help your liver break down fat-soluble toxins such as pesticides on foods. Choosing a protein-rich food at each meal will also regulate your blood sugar for even energy.
Cruciferous vegetables – vegetables in the cabbage family include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, cauliflower and kohlrabi contain the phytonutrient sulforaphane that boosts production of glutathione, a key detoxifying enzyme in the liver.
Organic produce – choose organic produce to limit your intake of pesticides to reduce the amount of toxins coming into your body. Choose from a variety of colors each day to maximize your intake of beneficial phytonutrient: red, orange, yellow, green, blue/purple, white, and tan.
Fiber – choose plenty of fiber-rich vegetables, nuts, and seeds to keep your digestion regular and to scour intestinal walls. Fiber will also bind to toxins so that they can be eliminated in stool.
Omega-3 fatty acids – these healthy fats will help lubricate intestinal walls, support beneficial intestinal bacteria, and lower inflammation. Choose fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, mackerel or herring or omega-3-rich plant foods such as flax seeds, chia seeds, and walnuts.
Probiotics – If you have a history of constipation or have taken antibiotics, foods rich in probiotics will help restore the beneficial bacteria in your digestive tract. Include fermented foods such as tempeh, sauerkraut, or kimchi in your daily diet or consider a probiotic supplement.
It’s also important to eliminate certain foods to support your health and digestion. Avoid processed foods that typically contain high-fructose corn syrup, trans fats, and excess sugar and sodium.
Avoid alcohol and foods high in sugar and refined-grains (flour) to reduce inflammation and improve gut function and blood sugar regulation. If you suspect food sensitivities to dairy, gluten or other foods, avoid these during your detox as well.
These detox nutrition guidelines should be a part of your everyday healthy diet to keep your body’s detoxification systems working for you 24/7.
Even with a healthy diet, it’s difficult to avoid the thousands of sources of toxins in our everyday lives. Following a structured detoxification diet 2 to 4 times per year will help reduce your toxic burden to re-balance and restore your health.