There are many different approaches to doing a detox and many types of detoxification. You can detox from poor food choices or from airborne toxins, from addictions or mental clutter, and even from electronics. Sometimes, we need a little help to start fresh and clear our minds. A dietary detox or cleanse can be a nice reset for body and mind.
This article is about using a cleansing or detoxifying diet to enhance the body’s internal detoxification processes.
Note: I prefer the word “cleanse” to “detox” and use them interchangeably here.
How does detoxification work in the body?
The physical way the human body gets rid of toxic substances is known as biochemical detoxification. The entire elimination system works together to dismantle and excrete toxins that build up in our bloodstream or digestive system. Broadly, the liver converts toxins into less toxic substances which are more readily excreted through the bowels, kidneys, and skin.
This process can be enhanced by fasting, juice cleansing, or by eliminating toxins and inflammatory foods while increasing herbs and spices that help encourage our own biochemical detoxification processes.
My take on cleansing
I prefer the approach of eating a cleansing diet, for a period of 3 – 30 days. My approach is to eat loads of vegetables and fruit during the cleanse. I focus on vegetables as the main part of my diet during this time. I make sure to include high fiber foods like chia seeds, which are key to helping the body carry out the toxins. I drink a lot of herbal tea and lemon water.
Steps to detox that will leave you feeling energized and full
Identify and remove any exposure to toxins that require the liver to work hard.
Big culprits include processed foods such as white flour and white sugar, high fructose corn syrup, chemical additives, deep fried foods, coffee, sugary drinks, and alcohol. Many people struggle with dairy and gluten. You may also know of a unique food that you tend to have trouble with, like. Skip those items during your cleanse as well.
In order to “crowd out” the inflammatory items, you’ll want to focus on including foods and drinks that support the liver and elimination system.
Focus on alkaline foods such as green vegetables, cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli), fruits, spirulina, chlorella, seaweeds, and whole grains. All vegetables and fruits are good and loaded with antioxidants! Focus on getting most, or all, of your nutrition from plants.
Sweet potatoes and avocados provide energy plus a sense of fullness and satisfaction. Nuts and seeds make for a great snack. Let vegetables be the star of your plate.
Watch the inflammatory drinks and introduce some healthier drinks.
Skip the sugary drinks altogether; they hide a lot of empty calories and inflammatory compounds. Coffee has strong alkaloids which can be hard for the liver to process and most of us drink far too much. Limit the coffee to 1 or 2 cups (not mugs) and use honey or maple syrup in place of white sugar. Better yet switch over to green or black tea during your cleanse. Go ahead and take a break from alcohol, it’s especially hard on the liver.
DO drink plenty of water, aim for 8-10 glasses a day minimum. Add fruit or citrus to your water if you must have flavoring. Use herbal teas for added nutrition, elimination support, stress management support, and as a substitute for sugary drinks. Great options include Chamomile, Nettle Leaf, Red Clover Leaf, Wild Oat Straw, Holy Basil, Rose Petals, Linden Leaf and Flower, Dandelion Leaf or Root, Ashwaganda Root, and Astragalus Root. *
*Be sure to check with your doctor before starting a cleanse or adding any herbal teas, especially if you take pharmaceutical medication.
Check your stress levels! External stress can create toxins in your body and releases cortisol which causes more inflammation and a cascade of unwanted effects. Addressing stress will help your cleanse be most effective.
Aim to reduce or manage stress with personal care that works for you such as meditation, herbal teas, or exercise.
Try out a cleansing diet for 3 days to start! You might feel so energized you want to go longer. Or you might decide to do a cleanse each season.
Once you notice the improvements from cleansing such as better skin, better energy, less bloating and gas, fewer aches and pains, clearer mind, even weight loss—you will understand what I mean about the reset. Renewal is such a sweet feeling. Enjoy!