More people today are turning to cleanses for a detox. A few common methods include: “souping” (detoxing with soups), juicing or fasting. As a health professional, I’m not here to say that these methods should all be avoided but I am here to help readers understand that there are ways to help encourage the body’s detoxification process through quality nutrition practices that do not require extreme dietary approaches.
Juicing is one common cleansing practice. Some juicing diets claim that they purify the body and help prevent certain ailments. At this time, there is not enough evidence to support these claims. I do agree that juicing may help people increase fruit and vegetable intake and increase hydration, but to consume a week’s worth of juices thinking it will clean the body would not be the healthiest, easiest or even a wallet-friendly approach.
For example, when juicing, mainly with fruit, most of the calories come from carbohydrates. These juices are rich in sugar and are low in protein which increases levels of hunger and does not help control energy levels.
Fiber from fruits and vegetables are lost during the preparation process if the pulp is not added back; so, you’re consuming a high-carb, low-protein and low-fiber diet for a whole week, which can cause spikes in blood sugar (not ideal for diabetics), result in headaches, fatigue and mood swings. Extreme cleansing processes can also back-fire and cause an increase in over-eating behavior once resuming a regular diet.
The truth is that the body has a natural detoxification process, primarily taking place within the liver. Through a variety of biochemical processes, the body converts products or toxins into compounds that can be eliminated through urine, bile, sweat or feces. Two types of toxins include: endotoxins (byproducts of regular metabolism) and exotoxins (toxins from the external environment and foods).
One of the main goals of the body is to get rid of these toxins which result in pro-inflammatory products that cause negative changes to our DNA. Glutathione is one powerful antioxidant that helps with the detoxification process and helps fight against oxidative stress and helps boost immunity. It is a naturally occurring antioxidant in the body, the level of its effectiveness may be influenced by genes, the environment and the diet.
There is still research being done on the importance of its role and if oral supplementation of this antioxidant would help the body.
While there’s a lot of debate amongst cleanses and detox methods, there are many dietitians, who believe today’s toxic environment (unhealthy diets, unhealthy lifestyles and environmental toxins such as smoke and pollution) requires a form of detox, both physiologically and psychologically. Unfortunately, when dietitians hear the word detox they associate it with an extreme diet.
When meeting with clients who want to start a detox or cleansing program, I first ask what their purpose for doing this is. Often, answers include, relieving themselves from binge eating or drinking behaviors, or simply clients who want to jump-start weight loss. I encourage an overall healthful eating plan with plenty of hydration that increases digestion, weight loss, and can help eliminate unhealthy cravings.
When I do recommend a detox, I encourage clients to look at it as a period of reboot for the body and to create a meal plan anywhere from 3 days- 2 weeks with foods and healthy behaviors that will help get rid of the body's toxins!
A few of our top FitBliss tips include:
- Water! Lots of hydration! (fresh juices and herbal teas can be used during this time)
- At least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day (another way to increase fruit and vegetable intake, is to complement your meals by adding pulp-rich fruit and veggie juices)
- Consume increased amounts of fiber as this will help bowel regularity
- Add adequate amounts of protein with meals and snacks to help maintain energy levels
- Increase foods that help protect the liver (grapefruit, beets, green tea, avocado, cruciferous veggies, turmeric, and lemon)
- Increase foods that increase Glutathione production (cumin, garlic, onions, broccoli, kale, cauliflower and cabbage) and avoid toxins that impact glutathione levels such as environmental toxins (limit exposure to pollution, heavy metals), alcohol intake and tobacco use
- Reduce highly processed foods, artificial ingredients, hydrogenated oils, preservatives, while choosing more organic and fresh foods.
- Choosing healthy cooking methods such as: steaming, boiling, and baking!
- Exercise! Make it a goal to meet 150 minutes of exercise per week while working up a sweat!
Yasi Ansari, MS, RDN, CSSD
Yasi currently works as a Clinical Dietitian through Sodexo at Hoag Hospital Newport Beach, Hoag Orthopedic Institute and Hoag for Her Center for Wellness in Southern California. Yasi’s previous work includes a position as the Clinical Nutrition Coordinator at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Athletics fueling student athletes and nutritional work at USC Norris Cancer Hospital. Yasi also works as a health and nutrition content writer for local dietitians and physicians. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communication Studies from UCLA and a Master of Science degree in Family and Consumer Sciences with an emphasis in Nutrition and Dietetics from Cal State University, Northridge. She is passionate in educating clients, corporate wellness facilities, patients and students on the importance of optimal nutrition for performance, wellness and longevity.
Follow @spoonfulofyaas on Instagram for more information.
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