But what exactly is a detox? And what kind of detox is right, in other words sustainable, in the long term?
Detoxing is not just about what we eat but also about what we need to avoid, to support both our liver and digestive systems. A ‘time out’ to rest the liver and digestive system can benefit your health in many ways: immune system boosting, balancing hormones, regulating blood sugar, optimising many other body functions. Most people find that, after a detox, they feel lighter, clear headed, sleep better and feel more energised!
Aim for a detox strategy that can be maintained for life and can be enjoyed. Make it a habit to be healthy and in shape!
Try to avoid fasting programs as they may cause an excessively rapid release of toxins, which can cause unpleasant symptoms. Food deprivation for long periods of time is not advisable and can be dangerous for pregnant women or individuals with a weak immune system or chronic illnesses like diabetes. They can be dangerous and not durable.
Instead feed the liver’s detoxification pathways, adding liver friendly nutrients to optimally repair both the body and the gut.
How can you start a “detox regime” or “clean nutritious eating”
* Eliminate the following from your diet today:
- GMO foods
- Processed sugar
- Gluten (except “non processed gluten” such as sourdough bread, as long as you do not suffer from a strong gluten intolerance, some autoimmune disease or you are celiac)
- Hydrogenated oils such as margarine, vegetable shortening, fried foods, coffee creamers
- Artificial sweeteners. Replace with organic/local farm honey, green leaf stevia, a few dates/raisins, coconut sugar or maple syrup – in moderation though! Spices are also good.
- Go for fresh and/or in season, and organic as much as you can – do not stop eating veggies or fruit just because you cannot find them organic in order not to lack nutrients
* Eat the rainbow of veggies! Increase raw and cooked vegetables of all varieties eg:
- Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, pak choi)
Liver detoxification is rather complex. There are 3 phases and 6 conjugation pathways that various toxins take. The entire process relies on the availability of certain enzymes which are made from amino acids, so liver detoxification depends entirely on the presence of protein. How to incorporate proteins in your diet?
- If you include animal products in your diet (red meat, chicken, eggs…) go for ORGANIC or Grass-fed to avoid hormones and antibiotics. Consider going meatless once or twice a week.
- Organic eggs contain all the essential amino acids and they’re rich in sulphur, which also helps drive detoxification.
- While oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel, anchovies, etc. provide protein along with important detoxing nutrients like Omega 3 and the antioxidant Coenzyme Q10. Eggs and oily fish have been shown to support the liver and the Coenzyme Q10 mops up free radical damage that occurs during effective detoxing. Aim to eat oily fish 3-4 times a week.
- Unless you are intolerant to dairy products, or suffer from some autoimmune disease, you could enjoy some organic raw/unpasteurized dairy products, which are great for your gut bacteria and source of glutathione; a powerful antioxidant that supports approximately 60% of the detoxification pathways. For those of you who are not intolerant to casein, kefir is a great option.
- Vegans need to supplement their protein sources by combining plants to reach a complete essential amino acid profile. Really good protein sources to include are peas, hemp, tofu, quinoa, buckwheat, black rice and lentils.