Detox can be a daunting word for a lot of people. There is an overwhelming amount of information out there on the different types of detoxes that exist. Recommendations vary from juice cleanses to abstaining from harmful addictive substances to a one-stop “detox kit”. I won’t be delving into the aforementioned topics, but rather I will show you how a detox can be done through the most powerful agent out there – your food. In fact, the food we decide to put into our bodies is actually one of the most powerful detoxifiers.
Toxins can be external which are acquired from the environment through things like food, alcohol, pesticides, tobacco, heavy metals and/or household products. Toxins can be accumulated internally, as well. Internal toxins are byproducts of metabolism, which really should be eliminated from our bodies through the various systems we have in place. The problem arises when toxins build up in our system due to elimination pathways not working efficiently. Elimination pathways become strained and less effective at their day-to-day jobs, leading to toxic overload. Some of the tell signs that our bodies are backed up include:
- Weight gain
- Allergic reactions
- Sugar cravings
- Skin reactions
- Hormone imbalances
The best way to unclog the elimination pathways is through a detox. A detox aims to reduce the intake of toxins and helps to optimize the organs involved in detoxification (liver, lungs, lymphatic system, digestive system, blood, skin and kidneys). It simply assists the body to enhance its own detoxification pathways, as these processes should really be occurring naturally without any outside support. The goal is to help your body find its balance again and clean up our digestive tracts if any congestion exists. A good detox plan should be sustainable, incorporating some of the changes even after the 2-3-detox plan is done.
Reducing the toxic burden on the body starts with the food we eat. Imagine the stress we put on our digestive systems with the amount of processed foods, sugar and alcohol we consume on the regular. Our food supply has become compromised by the addition of artificial colourings, additives and preservatives. Our body needs constant breaks from all of the above! One of the major issues I see in practice with detox regimens is, people tend to be extremely strict for the period of time they are on the plan and then go right back to their previous lifestyle. A detox plan should be aimed at clearing your system out but should also provide you with long-term tips that can be incorporated into your daily lives to avoid the build-up. So the next time you do a 2-3 week detox plan your body won’t be as stressed.
So, here are my tips to help you start your detox through the foods you eat:
1. Drink Lemon Water
Start your day off with half a squeezed lemon in 8 oz of water before eating anything else! Lemon stimulates liver function to help kick-start digestion. Water first thing upon waking can help to rehydrate the body after sleeping for 6-7 hours.
2. Limit processed foods and refined sugar
Cut out processed foods and refined sugars for 3 weeks. Refined sugar has been linked to diabetes, cancer and heart disease. These foods can cause extra work for the liver and Gall Bladder. Chose foods that are minimally processed. Try to aim for whole food sources like sprouted grains, fresh veggies, fruits, nuts and seeds. The goal here is to get you feeling your best while cutting these foods out. Maybe so much so that you decrease the quantity of processed foods you eat even after the 2-3 week detox plan.
3. Cook with spices
Incorporate these spices into your daily meals: turmeric, holy basil, cinnamon, oregano, cumin, ginger, fennel, rosemary, etc. These spices can aid with digestion and contribute to overall detoxification.
4. Drink herbal tea
Chose herbal teas like Green tea or Matcha tea over caffeinated drinks. Green tea actually still has that caffeine you need to get you going and is great when trying to wean off coffee!
5. Greens Breakfast Shake
A greens shake with protein in the morning is key for that energy boost (especially if you are trying to wean off of coffee). These plant foods can provide nutrients called phytonutrients and antioxidants that promote healing and detoxification in the gut, liver and kidney. Plant foods can also help to alkalinize the body, improving excretion of toxins by the kidneys.
6. Get your B Vitamins
These are optimal for liver function and help with energy and fat metabolism. Get them through your foods: Green leafy greens, whole grains, nuts, seeds, fish, legumes and eggs or via a B complex supplement.
These simple practices can make a huge difference in the number of chemicals your body is being exposed to and decreases the burden on your digestive system. A healthy detox is not abstaining from food or taking 1000 pills a day. It starts with reducing toxic burden on our bodies through our food choices. The ultimate goal of a 2-3 week detox plan is not only to clear out the unwanted things from your body but also to get you to incorporate these simple daily routines into your everyday life.
Written by : Dr. Saira Kassam | 2017