Just as your home might benefit from a little spring cleaning, so too would your body benefit from a cleaning of its own. You can blame it in part on the fast-paced world we live in, but every day, our bodies accumulate toxins at a rate nearly impossible to expel through its natural systems alone. That’s where a “detoxifying diet” or a “body detox” comes in handy. Even if you eat fairly well, but you still feel sluggish, or if your hair, skin, and nails aren’t looking their best, a short body detox could help rejuvenate your body’s organs and systems, getting you feeling back on par with a healthy balance.
What is a body “detox” and why might we need it?
“Detoxification” is classified as an alternative or natural medicinal approach to cleanse the body of toxins and other accumulated harmful substances that are built up over time and has negative effects on health and wellbeing. A detox usually consists of: dieting, fasting, consuming certain foods exclusively, avoiding specific foods, and colon cleansing. There is also a method of detox known as chelation therapy (use of chelating agents to remove heavy metals from the body), but it is not widely performed nor recommended for general use.
History of detoxification diets
History has recorded the use of “detoxification” treatments in ancient Egyptian and Greek cultures, although theirs was based on the premise of “autointoxication” (meaning “self-poisoning”). To the ancients, it was believed that foods entered our bodies and sat to essentially “rot” in our stomachs and intestines. That “rotting” food created toxins, which then spread through the body causing any number of illnesses: headaches, tooth aches, fever, pustules, and even hysteria, just to name a few. Their solution was to “detoxify” the body, usually through colon cleansing or irrigation.
The ideas of detoxification diets or treatments were fairly popular until the 1930s, when the medical theories supporting them seemed to lose confidence. Since then, however, detox has been getting some revived attention as natural and alternative medicines have gained ground and credence. Largely, a detox is a good way to bring your body out of an unhealthy “hibernation” of sorts. It is also a good way to give your body a fresh start on a clean, healthy life.
Top 10 foods for detoxing
While there are dozens of high-priced shakes and questionable “detox systems” available in nutrition stores and online, thankfully, Mother Nature has provided some key tools for cleansing your body right in your grocery store’s produce section.
Lemons – Lemons stimulate the release of enzymes and Vitamin C, which triggers digestion and helps convert toxins into a water-soluble form that can be easily expelled from the body. They also stimulate the liver and purify our body’s blood cells.
Beets – Nutrient-rich, a source of vitamins B3, B6 and C, beta-carotene, magnesium, calcium, zinc, and iron… beets are a wonder food! They are full of fiber, which is essential for healthy digestion, and they help our liver and gall bladder break down toxins. (For best results, use shredded raw beets)
Apples – Apples provide fiber (in the form of Pectin), nutrients, and help stimulate bile production (necessary for the liver to release toxins). Pectin is also helpful in removing heavy metals (which have been linked to such illnesses as depression, thyroid disease, and cancer) and food additives from our systems. (Organic apples are thought to be your best bet, as they are generally free from chemical pesticides)
Green vegetables – Our bodies utilize chlorophyll from green veggies, which helps to rid the body of toxins, heavy metals, herbicides, and pesticides.
Garlic – Raw garlic has powerful antiviral, antiseptic, and antibiotic properties that help stimulate the liver to produce enzymes that help filter toxins from the digestive system.
Sea vegetables – These are mega rich in minerals and antioxidants that help alkalize the blood and strengthen our digestive tract. Sea veggies have something called alginic acid, which can absorb toxins from the digestive tract. (If you’re hesitant to try something like seaweed, buy Dulse Flakes and use it in salads, soups, and stir-fries in place of salt).
Broccoli sprouts – Not to be confused with broccoli (which is still very healthy for you), broccoli sprouts are high in antioxidants and contain phytochemicals that aid in the detox process faster than regular broccoli.
Green tea – Green tea is a great source of antioxidants, several specific to green tea in particular, increase liver function.
Artichokes – These work overtime for the liver and its functions. Artichokes increase bile production while also helping to purify and protect your liver. Having a slight diuretic effect on the kidneys, artichokes can assist in removing toxins once the liver breaks them down. They are also loaded with fiber, which helps with elimination.
Cilantro – Cilantro helps rid the body of heavy metals by actually binding to toxins and loosening them from the blood, tissues, and organs, thereby aiding with their removal from the body.