Ways to Do a Body Detox Cleanse

The amount of chemicals in our food supply has risen exponentially over the past couple of decades. The dangers of processed food, which includes canned food, food items that have been dehydrated to make them last longer or food items to which any form of chemical has been added, have been known for sometime now.

Toxic ingredients that go into processed food include trans fat or unsaturated fatty acids like palm oil and partially hydrogenated oil, refined grains like high fructose corn syrup and preservatives like sodium benzoate and potassium benzoate (added in soda), butylated hydroxyanisole (added in hundreds of food items and also in food packaging) and sodium nitrates and sodium nitrites (added in processed meats). These preservatives alone have been found capable of causing thyroid damage, disrupting the endocrine system and thereby the hormones in our bodies, causing colon cancer and diabetes. Oh and the reason you should be really worried is because studies have found that for an average American nearly 60% of their calorie intake is through ultra-processed food.

The toxic substances entering our bodies are not solely due to processed food. We also consume pesticides and fungicides used to grow vegetables and fruits. This could be through residue on the vegetable or fruit itself or through contaminated soil and water.

This is why our bodies need a detox cleanse at regular intervals. The bulk of the job is done by the liver. First it breaks down these toxic elements by metabolising them into reactive metabolites. Next it eliminates them from the system by excreting them. Our kidneys, lungs and intestines play a supporting role in this process of detoxification.

Daily Detox Cleanse

The detox diets that have gained in popularity in the past few years shouldn’t be your primary approach to detoxification. You can inculcate several healthy habits that cleanse your body on a regular basis and keep the levels of toxins in the body to a minimum. You can complement this with a proper detoxification program, such as a 7-day detox diet program, about twice or thrice a year.

Glass of Water with Lemon Juice to Start off the Day

At the start of every day have a glass full of hot water with the juice of half a lemon mixed in it. The hot water will cleanse the overall system, including the liver and kidneys, while lemon juice will help your digestive system wash out the toxins. Since, your body is essentially denied any form of hydration while you sleep, which is typically 6-8 hours, drinking water first thing in the morning rehydrates the body as well. You should continue drinking water through the day. Usually, about 8-10 glasses or 2 liters is the recommended water intake per day.

Drink Green Tea

Coffee has become a default beverage for all of us and we drink a lot of it through the day. However, if you want to keep your body free of toxins and healthy, then green tea or any form of herbal tea is the ideal option. Not only is green tea (or for that matter regular tea minus the milk and sugar) an excellent antioxidant, it also ensures that you feel full and reduces the chances of overeating.

Eat Food That Helps the Digestive System

A healthy digestive system is crucial for effective elimination of toxins from the body. Food items like white flour and white bread put undue pressure on the digestive system and overwork it, which hamper bowel movement. Eat whole grain flour and bread instead, along with legumes and raw veggies and fruits. The fiber in legumes (beans) and the enzymes in vegetables and fruits helps digestion and ensures proper bowel movement. And not to forget, legumes are a great source of protein as well. You should also eat probiotic foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, tempeh, pickled cucumbers, etc., as they contain live cultures, which helps heal the intestinal lining.

Exercise Regularly

The advantages of regular exercise is well documented. Specifically with regards to toxins and cleansing, regular exercise does a couple of key things. It improves blood circulation and circulation of the lymphatic system, which plays a key role in removing toxins from the body. However, the common misconception that one can sweat out toxins while exercising is a myth.

Prevent Inflammation of Intestines

Intestines are an important part of the system that ensures toxins are eliminated from our bodies effectively. Inflammation of the intestines cause disorders such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, which also damages the intestinal wall. Hence, it’s important to include naturally occurring anti-inflammatory agents such as turmeric, ginger, fish or fish oil, pineapple, etc. in your diet to prevent such inflammations as much as possible.

Detox Cleanse Diet

Before the Cleanse Begins

There’s no point in starting off on a detox cleanse plan, while you continue to bombard your body with toxins. So, not only do you have to cut saturated fats and refined sugar from your diet, you also need to eliminate alcohol and nicotine from your system and significantly cut down caffeine intake. These things are toxins as well. Another source of toxins that’s often ignored is stress. High levels of stress hormones in our bodies slows down the enzymes responsible for the detoxification process in the liver. This also reduces the chances of experiencing headaches and nausea, which are common complaints, during the detoxification period.

Plan out your meals for the entire duration of the program. This will make it easier to stick to the diet. Also, before beginning the diet get rid of all food items that might tempt you to wander off the diet program from your kitchen. Assuming that you follow the standard Monday-Friday work week, then begin the diet on a Friday. This will allow you to ease into the program with the first two days coinciding with the weekend, which are the toughest days in the diet program.

7-Day Detox Plan

On all seven days, you will have three primary meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) with two optional snack breaks (mid-morning and post-lunch), depending on how hungry you feel and the level of physical activity you have been engaged in.

Smoothies for Breakfast

  • You will be having a smoothie for breakfast at around 7:30-8 am. Making a smoothie is hassle free. You simply put all the ingredients in a blender and blend till it’s smooth.
  • Use fresh, seasonal fruits and green, leafy vegetables to make the smoothies, including all types of berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries), pineapple, avocado, banana, spinach, kale, romaine lettuce, chard, celery, etc.
  • To lend a smooth, creamy texture to the smoothie you can add unsweetened soy milk or almond milk or plain water will do too.

Salads for Lunch

  • You will have salads for lunch at around 12:30-1 pm. Salads are one of the most versatile dishes, so the options in terms of ingredients are vast. Just because you’re on a diet doesn’t mean you eat the same boring food day after day.
  • You can use a host of dark green and leafy vegetables in the salads, including spinach, brussel sprouts, broccoli, kale, regular cabbage, red cabbage, green beans, broad beans, legumes such as chickpeas and soybeans, artichokes, etc. Other vegetables like beet, radish, carrot, etc. can also be added.
  • You can also add a variety of nuts and seeds in the salads, including almonds, macadamia, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, etc.
  • For the dressing, use olive oil, sesame oil, orange juice, lemon juice, ginger, garlic and freshly ground pepper. You can also include vinegar, raw honey, mustard, etc.
  • If you want to add meat, then stick to boiled or grilled chicken breasts. Tofu is a great meat alternative ingredient for salads, so you can give that a try as well. Ideally, you should plan seven different salads for the seven days, so you will need all the ideas you can get.
  • You will find many recipes for detox salads online. Make a large bowl full of salad for each of the seven days and if you can’t finish it off during lunch, you can save it for a quick snack later on in the day.

Soups for Dinner

  • The trick to make the ideal detox soup is to pack it with ingredients that are rich in potassium, as that helps remove toxins from our cells, and ingredients that are fibrous, as they stimulate bile secretion and improve bowel movement thereby getting rid of the toxins from the body.
  • The vegetables that you can use for the soups remain essentially the same as those for the salads, including broccoli, beet, celery, carrot, leek, spinach, kale, parsnip, etc. You can also use sweet potato, which is rich in potassium.
  • You can use coconut oil, sesame oil, olive oil, etc to cook the soups. Use nuts and seeds as and when possible, depending on the recipe.
  • In regards to spices, look for recipes that include turmeric, cinnamon and cumin. Use ginger and garlic generously and herbs like parsley, basil, etc. as garnish.
  • Have dinner by 7-7:30, which is roughly 3-4 hours before your bedtime.
  • Search for detox soup recipes and you’ll get a plethora of options.

Snacks

  • The idea is to not stray from the type of food you will having during the three main meals in a day.
  • One great option is to soak a bunch of nuts and seeds like almonds, sunflower seeds, pine nuts, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, etc. in a bowl of water overnight. In the morning, drain the water and spread them on a paper towel. Pack them in a ziplock bag or any other airtight container that you can carry with you to work. If you feel hungry before lunch, munch on a handful of these to keep you going.
  • Yogurt with active live culture in it is another excellent snack option, especially Greek yogurt. However, if possible, make yogurt at home and add chunks of seasonal fruits in it for a delicious post-lunch and pre-dinner snack at around 3-4 pm. Making yogurt at home is really simple and coconut milk yogurt is more healthier than whole milk yogurt. Plus, those who are lactose intolerant or vegan can have coconut milk yogurt.
  • And then there’s the leftover salads, if any, which are perfect snack material.

Finishing Touch

  • A detox plan is incomplete if it’s not complemented with daily exercising and a good night’s sleep.
  • So, if you’re working during the week you plan to be on the detox cleanse diet, make sure you have time either in the morning or late afternoon for at least an hour of exercising. It doesn’t have to be an extensive workout session at the gym. You can start with basic stretching followed by running or jogging. Alternate this with an hour long session of yoga to ensure it doesn’t become boring or feel like a chore.
  • If it’s really not possible for you to make time for exercising, then try and use the stairs instead of the elevator, walk to work if possible and get up from your workstation and walk around for a few minutes after every couple of hours.
  • Similarly, a proper night’s sleep is essential for the body to cleanse itself. You need at least 7 hours and preferably 8 hours of sleep every night during these seven days (and ideally every night, in general).

Conclusion

Not every fad detox diet floating around online is good for you. The purpose of a cleanse is to strip your diet to the essentials and give your liver and kidneys the chance to function at their highest efficiency level. The purpose isn’t to starve or torture you. So, even though your diet is stripped to the essentials, it needs to be nutrient rich. Just having juices for seven straight days isn’t going to help your body as much as the creators of these diets claim.

Finally, a detox cleanse diet isn’t suitable for everyone. If you have an eating disorder, or you are diabetic, or suffering from liver disease or kidney disease, then consult a physician before drastically changing your diet.

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