'Tis the season to be bombarded by detox cleanses and weight loss programs. In general, most people don't need an extreme detox. * Our bodies naturally eliminate toxins through the liver, kidneys, digestive system, skin, and lungs.
That said, our organs must be healthy to eliminate unwanted substances effectively. Our daily exposure to chemicals, environmental pollutants, and toxins in the environment has significantly increased. The holidays mean many of us have overeaten and overdone it with sugar and alcohol.
So, while detox diets don't do anything magical that your body does on its own, you certainly can optimize your body's natural detoxification system.
Tips to Enhance Your Body's Natural Ability to Detox
Hydration is such a basic yet powerful way to keep your hard-working liver detoxing. Water flushes out harmful environmental pollutants from your system. Water transports waste products, efficiently removing them through urination, breathing, or sweating. Staying hydrated is vital for detoxification.
Reduce Sugar and Processed Foods
Adding more whole foods and less junk food can keep your body's detoxification system healthy. High consumption of sugary and processed foods causes inflammation linked to chronic diseases. These diseases hinder the body's ability to detoxify naturally by harming organs like the liver, which play an essential detox role. A good example is the high consumption of sugary beverages, which can cause fatty liver, which negatively impacts liver function.
Eat lots of Antioxidant-Rich Foods.
Consume a diet rich in antioxidants to help your body reduce damage caused by free radicals that can impact detoxification. Berries, nuts, cocoa, vegetables, spices, especially Curcumin, and green tea have some of the most antioxidants. Eating sulfur-rich foods such as eggs, broccoli, and garlic helps optimize glutathione's function. Glutathione is an antioxidant your body produces and is one of the heavy hitters in detoxification.
Eat Detox-Promoting Vegetables
Include the cruciferous vegetable family such as broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, mustard greens, kale, cabbage, brussels sprouts, arugula, watercress, daikon radishes, and garlic and onion. Cruciferous vegetables have metabolites that break down into compounds that up-regulate the liver's detoxification enzymes.
Aim for 30-40 Grams of Fiber Daily
Detoxes and cleanses usually involve eliminating most foods and replacing them with juices. The problem with juicing is that it can spike your blood sugar because the natural sugars in juice are stripped away from the fiber found in fruit and vegetables. Fiber slows digestion, helps with nutrient absorption, and removes toxins via stool. Your digestive tract uses probiotics from fiber to nourish your intestines with beneficial bacteria, helping maintain immune health. Fiber binds to cholesterol and removes it from your body, doing a similar thing with contaminants and hormones that would otherwise be stored in your fat cells. Eating adequate fiber is vital for proper elimination and is essential to natural detoxing.
Eat More Omega 3s and Fewer Omega 6s.
Research suggests eating more omega 3s (found in low mercury fish such as wild salmon, sardines, cod, anchovies, and scallops) and fewer omega 6s (found in vegetable oils) can decrease the inflammatory response from exposure to PCBs.
More than 90% of alcohol is metabolized in your liver. Give that hard-working liver a break. While some common ingredients in liver cleanses have been shown to have positive results — milk thistle has been shown to decrease liver inflammation, and turmeric extract has been shown to protect against liver injury — there have not been adequate clinical trial data in humans to recommend the routine use of these natural compounds for prevention.
Focus on Sleep
Quality sleep is necessary to support your body's detoxification system. Sleeping allows your brain to remove toxic waste byproducts accumulated throughout the day.
Exercise lowers inflammation and allows your body's detoxification system to work correctly.
The Take Away
A plan that does work is a plan that gently reduces or eliminates junk foods and increases the amount of plant-based foods, water, and exercise. It doesn't hurt to bump up additional detoxification to assist the liver in doing its job. Go ahead and put some lemon in your water. But it's important to note that you should not trust all 'detoxes' and 'cleanses' out there that over-promise results and tend to lack scientific evidence.
*(Some people have genetic variants that may impair their ability to detox appropriately).