When you visit any health-related website today or flip through the pages of any nutrition/diet magazine, you will likely see the words “cleanse” and “detox”. But what do they really mean? Why should we cleanse our body and how? The word, ‘cleansing’, when used in a dietary context, refers to flushing or clearing the body (and organs) of toxins and accumulated waste. Detox or detoxification on the other hand, is the body’s natural process of eliminating toxins and waste. Your liver, kidneys, blood and lymphatic systems work together as a team to ensure that toxins are converted to less harmful compounds and excreted primarily through sweat, stool and urine. The terms are very similar with the same desired end result. The only difference being that YOU cleanse, and your BODY detoxifies.
Your body does a pretty good job of detoxifying itself, but occasionally needs help eliminating the accumulation of waste products. Cleansing provides that boost. There are mechanical (and sometimes radical) cleanses such as colonic hydrotherapy, also chemical cleanses are often used prior to medical procedures like a colonoscopy, and finally natural cleansing “diets” involving the introduction of fruits, vegetable, juices and smoothies to promote cleansing and detoxification of your body from the inside. During your cleanse or “detox diet” as it is often called, you are giving your body and internal organs a chance to “rest”. You are also reducing or eliminating the amount of toxins that have accumulated in your body over time.
We eat, drink and breathe toxins and chemicals every day. Refined sugar, processed and artificial foods, pesticides, antibiotics and hormones, genetically modified organisms, chemicals from food packaging, heavy metals from seafood, air pollution and cigarette smoke, as well as chemicals from tap water. Even toxins from soaps and detergents can accumulate in your body. These toxins and chemicals can accumulate in your cells, guts, and organs such as lungs, liver and kidneys. One way to minimize these accumulation of these poisons, is by having a periodic short-term cleanse.
During your cleanse you will want to minimize the amount of refined or processed junk and chemicals you eat (and drink) while at the same time increasing the vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants your body needs for detoxification. You will also increase high fiber foods and CLEAN water. This combination will help draw out and eliminate toxins by increasing the frequency of bowel movements and urination. The goal is to flush and eliminate toxins and waste from your cells into your bloodstream to be further processed and eliminated by your liver, gut, and kidneys. In the end, you are also flushing and cleansing your internal filters.
Now that we understand WHY we should cleanse and detoxify, let’s discuss some natural cleansing foods we should introduce.
1. Start with WATER (and Green Tea). Clean, filtered water. Avoid tap water if at all possible as it contains many of the toxins we are trying to eliminate, especially if it passes through your water softener. Green Tea is loaded with antioxidants including catechins which increase liver function thereby boosting one of your filters.
2. Fruits, especially citrus. Many fruits contain plenty of water, fiber, antioxidants and vitamins. Lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruit provide Vitamin C which may help convert toxins into digestible material that your body can then eliminate. Lemons promote liver and kidney function; again boosting your internal filtering system. Start every day with a room-temperature glass of water and lemon.
3. Anything green. Fill your juicer or blender with algae, wheatgrass, kale, spinach, alfalfa, arugula and chard. Leafy greens contain Chlorophyll which binds with heavy metals (like lead), pesticides and herbicides allowing them to be eliminated and flushed out of your body easily.
4. Broccoli Sprouts. Broccoli sprouts are 3-4 day old broccoli plants, and contain 50 times more antioxidants than mature broccoli. Broccoli sprouts stimulate detoxification enzymes in the digestive tract.
5. Garlic. Garlic stimulates the liver to produce detoxification enzymes that help filter toxic residues from the digestive system.
6. Raw Vegetables. Juiced raw vegetables like kale, onions, carrots, asparagus, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and beets are high in natural sulphur which helps the liver detoxify and eliminate toxic chemicals.
7. Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Avocado, olive oil and flax seed oils lubricate the intestinal wall which aids elimination. The oils also bind with toxins and waste trapped along the intestinal tract allowing them to be eliminated.
Regular consumption of foods that naturally cleanse and detoxify your body remains the best ways to get rid of the unwanted and poisonous toxins in your body. In addition, this simple habit can help to jump-start your weight loss, control cravings, wake up your digestive system for optimal health and wellness.
Do you have any other natural and cleansing food you like to add to the list? Please let us know in the comment section below.