For the majority, December is always a less healthy month – the abundance of food and alcohol can rarely be avoided with the many social gatherings that occur. If you feel like you need a kick start this January, then follow this straightforward guide on how to effectively detox…
1. Eat wholefoods – the basis to any good detox plan is to eat foods in their natural form and not processed. Focus on an abundance of fresh organic vegetables (6 to 8 servings a day), plus 1 to 2 servings of organic fruits. High quality proteins such as lean meats that include organic chicken and turkey, grass fed beef and wild caught fish. Organic eggs and legumes are other nutrient dense protein sources. Healthy good fats are also beneficial in a detox and moderate amounts of coconut and flax oils, olive oil, raw nuts and seeds and avocado are encouraged.
2. Juice or blend daily – this is the quickest way to get an abundance of vegetables and nutrients in one cup. Add one fruit for sweetness, but 90% of the ingredients should come from vegetables. The flavour of pear combines really well with all types of vegetables such as kale, spinach, cucumber, celery and I find it adds an enhanced sweetness compared to apples. As consuming food in the form of juices and smoothies are easier to digest this should give a “break” to the digestive system that may well already be overburdened and not functioning optimally.
3. Consume lots of antioxidants – fruits and vegetables are abundant in antioxidants but why are they so beneficial to the body? Antioxidants help to mop up damaging free radicals that are generated in the body when molecules of toxins are metabolized in the liver. Free radicals damage DNA and accelerate wear and tear in the body, similar to rust on a car. Antioxidants are intimately involved in the prevention of cellular damage - the common pathway for aging and a variety of diseases.
Consuming foods rich in Vitamin E (almonds, flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, spinach, avocado, sweet potato, wheat germ, oily fish), Vitamin C (citrus fruits, peppers, cabbage, spinach, broccoli, kale, cantaloupe, kiwi, strawberries), flavonoids and carotenoids help to neutralize the free radicals.
Flavonoids naturally occur in all fruit, vegetables and herbs so you can’t go wrong if you eat a rainbow of colours, however some top choices are: green and red vegetables, berries, oregano, parsley, onions, pecans, walnuts, pistachios, green and black tea, citrus, red wine and pure cocoa, including dark chocolate.
The best sources of Carotenoids are: dark green leafy vegetables and cruciferous vegetables, as well, as carrots, pumpkin, squash, tomatoes and sweet potato.
4. Eat more cruciferous vegetables - The cruciferous family of vegetables supports the Phase 1 detoxification pathway in the liver. These include spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, radish, cabbage, chard turnip greens and Brussels sprouts. (Seek your Doctors advice about consuming cruciferous vegetables if you have a thyroid condition)
5. Intestinal cleanse – simple steps of eating green leafy vegetables and fibre rich vegetables, consuming gut friendly herbs such as turmeric, ginger, fennel and peppermint; taking a digestive enzyme and eating foods containing beneficial bacteria found in kefir, sauerkraut and natural yoghurt, as well as, supplementing with a microbiotic all contribute to a successful intestinal cleanse.
6. Cleanse the liver - as part of your liver cleanse juice and blend vegetables in order to get your daily requirements as outlined above. Strive for 3 servings of cruciferous vegetables per day. Also add foods from the garlic family - garlic, leeks, shallot, chive and onions. They contain a sulfur-containing amino acid, which again aids the liver detoxification pathways.
7. Fuel your brain – the human brain is nearly 60% fat, so it makes sense to fuel our brain with foods rich in unrefined fats from fish, seeds and nuts. Wild Alaskan salmon, flaxseeds and walnuts are good sources of Omega 3 fatty acids. Chlorophyll rich foods such as dark green vegetables, spirulina and chlorella will help to detox your brain. Drink plenty of water and take a microbiotic daily to help support the gut – brain connection.
8. Drink plenty of water – sometimes easier said then done, but try to aim for at least 2-3 litres of filtered water a day. Water helps to flush out and eliminate toxins, keep the body hydrated and reduce thirst often confused with hunger or food cravings.
9. Cut out caffeine and alcohol – not only do they both put a burden on the liver so are mandatory to cut out during a detox, but in addition, caffeine and alcohol both inhibit the absorption of vital nutrients such as magnesium, iron, zinc, calcium, vitamin B12 and folic acid. For almost the same taste replace coffee with a chicory & barley powder added to hot water.
10. Stop eating the white stuff - refined and processed sugars definitely need to be avoided during a detox. This includes table sugar, baked goods, sweets, fizzy drinks, and most processed and packaged foods. Refined foods put a major toxic burden on the body, and are best replaced with real, whole foods that will nourish every part of your body.
Written by: Marianna Sulic