Detoxification of the body is to get rid of the potential toxins. Earlier this term was used for the treatment of alcoholism or drug addiction. But now it includes broader aspects like use of natural herbs, diets and other methods to remove toxins from body for the purpose of good health.
The chief organ involved in this detox process is liver and there are various steps like enhancing elimination, cleaning up colon, eliminating body toxins by boosting circulation, avoiding diet compound which may contain toxic substances etc.
Body has a natural way of throwing away toxins or unwanted elements. The components that could be bad for the body are processed chemically and turned into potentially less damaging substances and then finally eliminated from body through excretion, ie. stool and urine.
There are mainly two sources of toxins in human body.
During body functions, toxins are produced inside our body. Eg. Ammonia is released when protein gets processed in body.
Many toxic materials like pollution, pesticides, food additives, drugs, heavy metals etc are present in our environment and enter our body. These are toxic to our health.
In today’s context, the term detox diet is used for methods like diets, herbs, other procedures applied for eliminating the environmental and dietary toxins from body.
In a detox diet plan:
Chemicals entering our body via food are reduced to minimal quantity (eg. By taking organic food)
Foods containing anti oxidants, vitamins and nutrients are given priority as these are required for detoxification
Foods with high fiber content and water are included for the removal of body toxins , because high fiber food and water help in bowel movements and urination (which through our the toxins)
Why a detox diet is necessary?
The harmful chemicals that enter our body through environment, food or water, collect in the fat cells or the adipocytes. If the daily food is not nutritious enough, it would reduce our body’s detoxification capacity. Thus the harmful toxins would go on increasing. Such increasing toxin load is called ‘body burden’.
This can affect many body functions and cause various problems like weakened immunity, impaired metabolism, lack of proper nutrition, hormonal imbalance or illness. These health problems can be detected through symptoms like tiredness, skin problems, cramped muscles, bad breath or digestion problems.
There could be different parts in a detox diet plan, such as :
- Physical activities or exercise
- Herbal treatment
- Breathing methods
- Detox diet etc
Advanced plans could include colon cleansing, liver flush, fasting, chelation etc.
It is advisable for a beginner to start with an easier detox diet plan. These plans defer according to the requirements of an individual and the system to be targeted for detoxification like renal, respiratory, lymphatic etc.
Alternative practitioners generally advice to follow the detox diet plans only once or twice a year and not more than thrice in one year. While stopping the detox diet, it is better to make the changes gradually into a healthy routine diet.
Foods and nutrients that are included in a detox diet:
Vitamin C: Anti oxidant. Also useful in reducing side effects of detox diet, like headache, nausea etc
Multivitamins: multivitamins with selenium, molybdenum, zinc are advisable
Choline & Methionine: help in enhancing bile flow and monitoring fat digestion. So these are called lipotropic factors. (The fat soluble toxins are taken away from liver by bile and then eliminated through stools. So a better bile flow helps detox diet plan )
Milk thistle: An anti oxidant herb, helps in liver cell generation. It is effective in detoxing chemicals and industrial waste and also toxins from excess alcohol or excessively fatty foods.
Artichokes: Enhances bile secretion and fat metabolism. This has plant components called caffeoylquinic acids
Beets: The betaine present in beets, helpful in liver cell regeneration, bile secretion and fat digestion
Broccoli: The brassica family vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kohlrabi etc. are useful in liver detoxification
Fresh fruit & vegetables: Glutathione and Vitamin C useful for detoxification are available from fresh fruit and vegetables
Protein: Beans, nuts, seeds are good for detoxification of liver
Onion and garlic: Sulphur compounds are present in abundance, these are useful in process of sulfation to detox environmental chemicals, food additives, drugs etc. and also for the removal of heavy metal toxins
Dandelion root: This, too, enhances bile flow.
Food ingredients that should be avoided for body detoxification:
Sugar: in any form, sucrose, dextrose, brown sugar, corn syrup or any product containing sugar should be avoided
Dairy products, wheat, gluten, coffee, alcohol, chocolate, food additives and preservatives, fatty foods etc.
It could cause headaches. So it advisable to cut off coffee gradually while starting detox diet. Some could experience diarrhea. But if too much of fiber is taken with less water, it may lead to constipation. Also nausea, fatigue, weight loss, irritability, hunger etc are experienced. Detox diet should not be continued for longer periods as it may cause deficiencies, mainly protein and calcium.
Detox diet should not be started without alternate practitioner’s advice.