There are a number of “detox” diets available on the market at the moment – it seems to be the next “big thing” in the nutrition space. These juice cleanses mostly entail drinking water, fruit and vegetable juices and sometimes herbal teas. Although the first few days may be difficult, the lightness & improved energy levels that follow give us an encouraging feeling. The problem arises in the aftermath, once the cleanse is over and the old habits creep back in . Very often, the rebound effects are even worse and we ultimately feel more sluggish, tired and lethargic than before.
How does detoxification it work?
Detoxification is a continuous process that the body performs naturally. Seventy five percent of the deactivation of toxins take place in the liver and the remainder in the intestine. When potentially harmful substances enter the body, the body’s detoxification systems begin to work in overdrive.Toxins may be any of the following:
- processed foods (sugar and white flour products)
- environmental toxins (heavy metals and pesticides)
- end products of the body’s metabolism i.e stress hormones (stress) or bacterial byproducts
The list of toxins all compete to be detoxified. Without sufficient nutrients that support detoxification the liver becomes overwhelmed and this results in inflammation and disease.
What types of foods should we consume?
The key is variety! We need a large variety of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that support the metabolic process of detoxification optimally. We found them in the following foods:
Allium family – onions, garlic, chives, leeks.
Brassica: broccoli, Brussel sprouts, bok choy, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, mustard greens, radishes, horseradish, turnips, watercress, wasabi.
Other: Beets, celery, cucumber, spinach.
Fruit: Avocado, cranberries, blueberries, apples, pears, grapefruit, lemons, oranges, citrus peel.
Legumes: Leans, beans dry peas, chick peas.
Fats: Olive oil, canola oil, almonds, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, pistachios.
Herbs and spices: Rosemary, cumin, turmeric, caraway and dill seeds and oil.
Seafood: Wild caught salmon, sardines
Animal protein: Organic chicken, turkey, wild game
Key points to remember
It is not a “phase” or “cleanse” that we need to embark on to support detoxification – it should be a lifestyle approach that continually supports and assists optimal detoxification. Especially with the vast number of toxins we are bombarded with daily.
- Consume a wide variety of fresh vegetables and fruit daily.
- Select whole and unprocessed foods
- Aim to drink 6-8 glasses of water daily
- Support your gut health by including wholegrain, high fibre rich foods daily
- Exercise & stay active daily – aim for a minimum of 150 minutes of physical activity per week
Lyon M et al. (2006) Clinical approaches to detoxification and biotransformation. Institute for Functional Medicine, Gig Harbor, Washington.
Mahan KL, Escott-Stump S, Raymond JL. (2012) Krause’s Food & Nutrition care Process: Chapter 20 pg 438. 13th Edition. Philadelphia, Saunders.