It's easy to be seduced by social media influencers promoting a “a new year, a new you” cleanse. It's hard not to fall down rabbit holes that promise detoxes for ' fast weight loss!' and 'glowing skin!' Short-term fixes are just that, short-term. Quick weight loss is usually because of low calorie/low carbohydrate deprivation. That lost weight will return and find you when you return to normal eating, hence the term yo-yo dieting. Gimmicks and fads tend to lack scientific evidence. You need to make lifestyle changes you can sustain, and not just for 5,10, or 30 days!
In general, most people don't need an extreme detox. Our bodies are naturally designed to eliminate toxins that involve the liver, kidneys, digestive system, skin, and lungs. (There are some people with genetic variants that impair their ability to detox appropriately.)
Our organs do need to be healthy to eliminate unwanted substances effectively. Our daily exposure to chemicals, environmental pollutants, toxins, and processed food in the environment has significantly increased. The holidays meant many of us have overeaten and overdone it with sugar, flour, and alcohol.
So, while detox diets don't do anything magical that your body doesn’t do on its own, you certainly can optimize your body's natural detoxification system.
Tips to Enhance Your Body's Natural Ability to Detox
Reduce Sugar and Processed Foods: By consuming less junk food, you can immensely help keep your body's detoxification system healthy. High consumption of sugary and processed foods causes inflammation linked to chronic diseases which hinder the body's ability to naturally detoxify itself.
Choose organic: Do your best to choose non-GMO foods, organic fruits and veggies, and hormone-free meat.
Eat Detox-Promoting Vegetables: Consume a diet rich in antioxidants to help your body reduce damage caused by free radicals and lower the risk of diseases that can impact detoxification. Berries, nuts, cocoa, vegetables, spices, and green tea have some of the highest antioxidants.
Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower) have metabolites that break down into compounds that upregulate the liver's detoxification enzymes supporting the body's natural detoxification pathways. Eating more of them means you crowd out the nasty environmental toxins and strengthen your mitochondria. In other words, eat your broccoli.
Boost your glutathione: Glutathione is the queen of detoxifiers in the body. Glutathione is an antioxidant produced by your body that is one of the heavy hitters in detoxification. Protect your cells from damage by raising your body’s internal glutathione with these foods.
Eat Foods High in Prebiotics: Gut health is essential for keeping your detoxification system healthy. The intestinal cells have a detoxification system that protects your gut and body from harmful toxins, such as chemicals. Good gut health starts with prebiotics, a fiber that feeds the good bacteria in your gut called probiotics. With the help of prebiotics, your good bacteria produce nutrients called short-chain fatty acids that are beneficial for health. Eating foods rich in prebiotics can keep your detoxification and immune systems healthy. Good food sources of prebiotics include artichokes, unripe bananas, asparagus, onions, and garlic.
Move: Exercise, including yoga, lowers inflammation and allows your body's detoxification system to work correctly.
Aim for 30-40 Grams of Fiber Daily: Fiber not only binds to cholesterol and removes it from your body, but it also does a similar thing with contaminants and hormones that would otherwise be stored in your fat cells. Eating adequate fiber is vital for proper elimination, an essential part of detoxing. 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 sugar absorption and removes toxins via stool. Your digestive tract uses probiotics from fiber to nourish your intestines with beneficial bacteria, helping maintain immune health.
Eat Foods High in Prebiotics: Gut health is essential for keeping your detoxification system healthy. The intestinal cells have a detoxification system that protects your gut and body from harmful toxins, such as chemicals. Good gut health starts with prebiotics, a fiber that feeds the good probiotic bacteria in your gut. Eating foods rich in prebiotics can keep your detoxification and immune systems healthy. Good food sources of prebiotics include artichokes, unripe bananas, asparagus, onions, and garlic.
Stay Hydrated: Hydration is a basic yet powerful way to detox your hard-working liver. Water transports waste products, efficiently removing them through urination, breathing, or sweating. A note about lemon water. Drinking water helps to eliminate waste from the body, but there is no evidence that lemon water is any better than plain water for this. There is also no evidence that lemon water is any better than regular water at aiding in weight loss. Enjoying lemon water for the Vitamin C and the flavor is perfectly fine but consuming it with the intent of “detoxing” or trying to lose weight is ineffective. Too much acidity can strip the enamel on your teeth. Wait about an hour after sipping lemon and then rinse your mouth.
Limit Alcohol: Put the wine glass down and give it a rest! More than 90% of alcohol is metabolized in your liver. By reducing alcohol consumption to a minimum, you free up your liver to focus on other toxins.
Get Quality Sleep: Ensuring quality sleep is a must to support your body's detoxification system. Sleeping allows your brain to remove toxic waste byproducts accumulated throughout the day. One of these waste products is a protein called beta-amyloid, which contributes to Alzheimer's disease.
The Take Away: It doesn't hurt to bump up additional detoxification to assist your body in doing its job but there is no need to put a 'detox' label on it.A sensible, sustainable plan that does work; is one that gently reduces or eliminates junk foods, increases plant-based foods, gives you adequate protein and fiber, and plenty of water, sleep, and exercise. Happy New Year, let's make it a healthful 2023!