Detox Part Four: Food and Nutrients
As I mentioned in my earlier blog, there are tens of different kinds of detox diets, however, the foods that are allowed are often quite similar, unless it is a juice fast. I am myself a great advocate of a holistic and gentle detox. This is also safest and it can be done without the need to retreat from your daily activities – work, studies, childcare… It is also a great way of intoducing some new, life-long healthy eating habits for yourself and also say hasta la vista to some food addicitions you might have.
What I have found beneficial for many of my clients is following a hypoallergenic diet. This is a dietary program based on removing all the foods from our diet that are known to cause food allergies, food sensitivities, and cause disruptions in the digestive process. When we generate allergic responses to foods, our body is consuming energy that could be used to detox and repair functions, or simply contribute to our sense of alertness and physical strength. The first few days may be the hardest. Breaking habits is difficult at all levels.
If there are chocolate biscuits in the cupboard or some chilled Chardonnay in the fridge, the chances are you’ll succumb during a weak moment and break your detox. Clear out ‘banned’ foods, give them away to friends or family, and replace with delicious detox foods to give you the best chance of success. By removing most allergen-causing foods, whether you are known to be allergic to them or not, helps to relieve the burden on the immune and digestive system. Many times we are unaware of the affects of certain foods (i.e. dairy and gluten) because we eat them often. Sometimes symptoms do not manifest for 24 hours or more after a food is eaten. For example, having dairy or gluten for breakfast and dinner may mask the actual effects of these foods. By following the Elimination Diet or the cleanses for 21 days, your system will be in a good place to reintroduce non-elimination foods and to see how they effect you.
Foods to avoid
• Wheat products: including bread, wheat-based breakfast cereals, pasta, flour, noodles (except rice noodles), couscous, cakes, biscuits and pizza. Very common allergens (especially gluten).
• Processed foods: including ready meals, ready-made sauces, condiments, stock cubes (unless organic), potato crisps, desserts, spreads, and anything that contains artificial additives.
• Dairy products: such as milk, cow’s cheese, cream, butter and normal, sugary, non-live yoghurt. These are higly mucus forming, very common allergens and acidic to the body.
• Red meat, and preferably also non-organic poultry and non-organic or non-wild fish (prefer cold-water fish). Highly acidic to the body and taxing on all organs, especially detox organs. High use of hormones and antibiotics in animals raised for meat that are very harmful to humans.
• Seafood: prawns, oysters, lobster, clams, octopus etc. These have risk of parasites and heavy metal contamination.
• Soy products: Very common allergen, often genetically modified, and disrupts hormones in both males and females. Avoid tofu, soymilk, edamame, soy-based ice-creams, soy-sauce.
• Corn: Common allergen. Often genetically modified. High in sugar, spikes insulin levels, high on the glycemic index.
• Nightshades: Potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and sweet peppers are part of the nightshade family. Nightshades are often rich in alkaloids that can be mildly toxic to a fair number of people. They are thought to potentially decrease digestion and increase inflammation in the body.
• Grapefruit: This fruit has been known to block certain enzyme processes in the body.
• Citrus: All citrus is removed from the cleanse because of its allergenic quality. Except for lemons and limes which are alkalizing and detoxifying and therefore wonderful on the cleanse.
• Bananas: This fruit is very starchy, and very sugary. Many people normally use bananas in their shakes and smoothies. Instead, try using berries, nut milks, and a scoop of coconut oil or an avocado to create a similar consistency.
• Caffeine: including black or green tea, coffee, chocolate, colas and other fizzy drinks, as well as painkillers. Highly acidic and taxing to detox organs (liver and kidneys), dehydrating and a stimulant that forces surges of adrenaline and puts us in fight or flight mode unnecessarily. Addictive and disrupts natural rhythms in the body (sleep, hormones, etc.).
• Sugars: including sweets, squashes, cordials and any juices except freshly squeezed.
• Artificial sweeteners: provides a false sense of energy without any nutrients, which leads to a crash, food cravings, weight gain and a list of unpleasant side effects since they are chemicals and toxic to the body.
Foods to include
• Fresh or frozen fruits (no banana or citrus, except for lemons and limes)
• Dried fruit – unsweetened, and organic, in limited amounts, such as cranberries, dates, raisins, goji berries
• Vegetables thought to be particularly good detox foods include broccoli, cauliflower, broccoli sprouts, onions, garlic, artichokes, beets, and dark leafy greens such as kale, collard greens, and swiss chard
• Sea vegetables, including kelp, nori sheets, wakame
• Rice, especially brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, millet, amaranth, oats (note: whole grains are preferred, but products made from the above may be allowed, such as brown rice pasta, pure buckwheat noodles, rice crackers, and bread)
• Split yellow and green peas, lentils, adzuki beans
• Almonds, walnuts, seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, coconut, especially young coconuts, tahini, nut and butters made only with allowed ingredients
• Cold-pressed, extra-virgin oils; alond, chia, olive, avocado, coconut
• Rice milk, almond milk, hemp milk, coconut milk – except canned coconut milk, water, herbal teas, lemon water
• Erythritol, stevia, real maple syrup, raw honey, black strap molasses
• Apple cider vinegar, Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
• Organic free-range chicken and turkey, wild or organic (cold-water) fish, organic eggs (unless you are intolerant)
• Liver healers: ulphur-rich foods, such as garlic, onions, eggs and red peppers, help the liver to eliminate toxins in a process called sulphation. In Asian restaurants, you may be served a long, white radish called a Daikon after eating particularly fatty foods, because its high sulphur content helps the body to metabolize and digest fats. Certain other foods, some of which are listed below, are powerful liver healers because they contain key ingredients, and these should all be part of your detox programme. There are also a number of herbal supplements that boost liver function and will aid an effective detox. • Artichoke hearts, asparagus, beetroot, dandelion roots, lemons & limes, B vitamin rich foods such as pulses, such as oats, millet, chickpeas and brown rice, magnesium rich dark green, leafy foods, turmeric, live yoghurt
When planning meals, it is useful to think about food combining as well. In its simplest form this means:
• Do not eat starches (grains and starchy veggies) and protein at the same time
• Combine protein with vegetables
• Combine starches with vegetables
• Eat fruits separately from other meals (not as dessert either!)
This will ease the job of your digestive system, as many foods require different enzymes to be broken down, and therefore, if eaten at the same time, they confuse the digestive system. Remember also to chew your food well and not drink when eating. Drinking with the meals dilute the digestive juices in your stomach and can cause insufficient food break-down. If you even after follwoing these guidelines still feel that your digestion does not work well, it is useful to consider taking a good quality digestive enzyme supplement. My favorite brands are Enzyscience and Enzymedica.
Even though it is not recommended to drink with meals, drinking between the meals is essential. You can drink any herbal teas you fancy on a detox, but the ones featured here have special benefits to help cleanse the system. Many of the tea manufacturers now make their own ‘Detox’ or ‘Cleansing’ brands, which often contain a mixture of useful ingredients, but always buy organic teas if you can.
• Nettle tea is a diuretic, meaning it helps your body excrete water, so it will flush out your toxins more quickly.
• Milk thistle tea contains silymarin which makes the liver less susceptible to toxin damage and increases its production of glutathione.
• Red sorrel tea is a terrific liver and gall bladder cleanser, and a recent study has indicated that it decreases the blood triglyceride levels (high levels are associated with heart disease and diabetes).
• Dandelion leaf tea has a diuretic action, while dandelion root coffee is an effective detox aid, stimulating the flow of bile so that more toxins are eliminated through the bowels.
• Rooibos (or Red Bush) tea helps you to shed toxins through sweat, can relieve bloating and aid the digestive process. It also claimed to reduce the effects of ageing, keep skin, teeth and bones healthy, and it can aid sleep.
• Chamomile tea is calming, soporific and can help to relieve mild headaches.
• Lemon balm helps with depression and anxiety.
• Spearmint and peppermint tea both aid digestion.
• Fennel tea stimulates the liver
• Chaga, Reishi, Cordyceps and Lion’s Mane infusions are wonderful for energizing and aiding in toxic removal.
Hope you have a successful journey into detox and cleaner, heathier you – and the planet!