Everyday each one of us is exposed to all kinds of toxins and harmful substances that could be aggravating to our health.
Toxins are in the foods we eat, the water we drink, the air we breathe – practically everywhere. Toxins can include perfume, cigarette smoke, pesticides, alcohol, mercury, oral contraceptives, food additives, and cleaning supplies.
So if these toxins are everywhere around us, how do we get rid of them and keep ourselves healthy?
The answer apparently lies in a detox diet.
What is detox?
You can rest assured that when someone says anything toxic is bad for you, it is true. The word detoxification, or simply detox, refers to the natural, ongoing process of neutralizing and eliminating potentially harmful compounds, called toxins, from the body.
By adopting a detox diet of natural foods, veggies, and lots of water, you can help your body cleanse itself of toxins, which are the number one cause of diseases and illnesses.
Now, you might have heard of experts saying that your body does not need any help detoxifying itself. After all, the body comes complete with all the essential faculties to perform that function. But while this is true, it is also true that we ingest an enormous number of chemicals daily through, food, water, and the environment.
These chemicals can accumulate in our bodily organs, preventing them from functioning properly and leaving us vulnerable to sickness. The toxic burden or the buildup can overwhelm the natural capacity of the body to detoxify and may lead to hormonal imbalance, nutritional deficiency, and inefficient metabolism.
At first, the signs are not easily noticeable. It could be something as subtle as fatigue or poor skin, which you may attribute to too much coffee but too little sleep. Over time, there may be pain and then diseases set in.
Cleanse Your Body the Natural Way
The ultimate goal of detox diet is to promote the excretion of stored toxins through the organs of elimination: the skin, intestines, liver, lungs, kidneys, and the lymphatic system.
As a type of diet, it calls for a change in consumption habits in an effort to detoxify the body by removing toxins and other contaminants. In so doing, you improve your health, energy, resistance to disease, mental state, and digestion on top of aiding you in weight loss.
There are several methods used to modify the diet for the purpose of detoxification. These methods include:
• Fasting – includes water fasting and juice fasting
• Increased consumption of fish such as salmon
• Combining foods
• Restricting calorie intake
• Herbal detox
In any of these methods, the emphasis is on fruits and vegetables which ought to compose a majority of your food intake. On top of that, you are also usually limited to unprocessed and non-GM (Genetically Modified) foods.
Fruits and vegetables are known to contain high amounts of antioxidants, which are substances found only in plants and can help fight against disease-causing free radicals. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the vitamins A, C, and E are actually forms of antioxidants that are vital for health.
For years now, scientists have touted antioxidants as the answer to all sorts of diseases, even aging. From preventing heart disease to slowing down degenerative diseases, to stopping cancer, to reducing blood pressure – you name it and everything points right back to antioxidants.
The human body is incapable of producing its own concentration of antioxidants. For this reason, we depend solely on our diet in order to get the store of antioxidants we need to combat diseases. Antioxidants protect the body from harmful, excess free radicals, sweeping them up before they can cause damage.
The best way to lay an antioxidant-rich foundation that’s inhospitable to toxins and free radicals is through a combination of whole foods. With antioxidant supplements still far from the high expectations of the scientific community, you can in the meantime turn to the more reliable source of these helpful compounds, which are antioxidant foods. A detox diet is a way for you to cleanse your body of toxins by consuming lots of antioxidants from fruits and vegetables.
Before You Start
Before you decide to go on a detox diet, it is important that you consult your nutritionist or dietician first. He or she can advise you on what methods of detox best suit you.
Moreover, it could be that the symptoms you believe to be a result of toxins in your body, such as fatigue or sleepiness, could be signs of a more serious underlying illness.
A detox diet will not be able to cure any illness or disease you might be suffering and may even serve to aggravate your condition because of the nutrition change that is likely to result from the diet.
The Detox Diet Plan
After consulting your doctor or nutritionist and getting his or her advice on what detox diet method to take, it is time for you to get really started. But first, a little background information and some precautions won’t hurt.
That said, here is a list of foods that are allowed while on a detox diet:
• Fresh Fruits
Emphasis should be on fresh. Avoid processed fruits, even fruit juices, as these may also contain chemicals and other artificial substances.
There is virtually no limit to the fresh fruits you can enjoy. The only exception is grapefruit which contains a compound, called naringin, that can significantly inhibit liver detox enzymes. Instead, eat a lot of berries, such as strawberries and cranberry, as these contain high amounts of antioxidants.
• Fresh Vegetables
Again, make sure that these are fresh and, as much as possible, non-GM. All fresh vegetables are to be enjoyed, except for corn which can be an allergenic food. Broccoli, cauliflower, broccoli sprouts, onions, garlic, artichokes, beets, red and green vegetables are good detox foods.
Most people have no problem digesting rice. Select brown or basmati rice. You may also indulge in the occasional rice cakes, rice crackers, and rice pasta.
• Other Grains
If you are concerned about the high carbohydrate content of rice, you may try other grains. Quinoa, amaranth, millet, and buckwheat are good substitutes. You can find them at any health food store.
Beans are highly recommended. In a recent study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), more than 100 foods were measured for antioxidant levels and found that beans occupy the top spot in the vegetable category.
Try split yellow and green peas and lentils, which are easy to digest and require less soaking time. You may also try kidney beans, pinto beans, mung beans, garbanzo beans (otherwise known as chickpeas) and adzuki beans.
• Nuts and Seeds
Sprinkle nuts, seeds, and nut butters over meals for added flavor. Make sure, however, that the nuts are fresh and unsalted. Your choices include flaxseed, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, cashews, and walnuts. Peanuts should be avoided.
There has been criticism to the consumption of fish in a detox diet since, according to experts, fish meat contains several substances that may be considered as toxic. However, fish also contains several minerals and nutrients that are good for the liver, the primary detoxifying organ of the body. Therefore, it is not so much as avoiding fish altogether but enjoying it moderation.
Recommended: extra virgin olive oil.
This includes vegetable salt, sea salt, vinegar, naturally fermented soy sauce or tamari. Also culinary herbs or spices and limited amounts of honey.
• Herbal Tea
Non-caffeinated herbal teas. Green tea, although it contains caffeine, is allowed. Black tea, oolong, and red tea are discouraged.
• Other Beverages
Water, lemon water, 100% natural fruit and vegetable juices, rice milk.
In addition to choosing from the above food list, it is also important that you observe the following detox practices:
• Drink at least 8 glasses of water every day.
• Dilute fruit juices with water.
• You should enjoy each meal. Don’t eat too fast. Take your time chewing the food thoroughly.
As for foods to avoid, take note of the following:
Avoid artificial sweeteners and refined sugars, including mixtures containing any of either – sucrose, dextrose, corn syrup, brown sugar, and turbinado.
• Dairy Products
This includes milk, eggs, butter, and cheese.
Wheat and products containing wheat.
A type of protein found in a few grains, including barley, oats, rye, spelt, and kamut. Some people are sensitive to gluten. If you are one of these people, then avoid gluten and all gluten-containing foods.
Corn and all corn products.
Avoid beverages that contain caffeine, including coffee and black tea. For coffee, both regular and decaffeinated are highly discouraged. Green tea, however, is allowed and should be enjoyed as an alternative to coffee.
• Other Foods to Avoid
Includes yeast, alcohol, food additives and preservatives, chocolate, and high fat foods.
A detox diet is a lifetime diet. It is unlike other diets where the whole regimen lasts only for a few weeks. You are constantly exposed to all kinds of toxins as you carry about your daily routine. In order to keep yourself healthy and protect yourself against the harmful effects of toxins, you have to maintain a diet that is not only free of toxins but can also help you get rid of those toxins that you inevitably take in.