What is a “Detox diet”?

By on March 24, 2012 under Detoxification, Nutrition

Let’s first review what detoxification IS NOT. Detoxification is not found in a magic potion, special juice or “kit”, ionic foot bath, adhesive foot pad, or infra-red sauna. You can’t buy detoxification on the internet.

Detoxification is the process of eliminating toxic substances from the body, a process that our body is designed to perform every moment of every day. Our body is an amazingly complex system that can accomplish this task with the help of  the liver, kidneys, gastrointestinal tract, and immune (lymphatic) system. However,  we need to be in good health and provide our body with the necessary tools to carry out this function. We need specific nutrients for the liver detoxification pathway, plenty of water to filter through the kidneys, fiber and good bacteria for our gastrointestinal system, specific nutrients for the immune system, and optimal hormone function to coordinate the interplay of these systems. Other factors also play a role in the efficiency of this process including the amount of toxins that we are exposed as well as sleep, stress, and exercise.

Key nutrients for liver detoxification include B-Vitamins (from whole grains, fruits/vegetables, nuts/seeds), amino acids (from lean protein), and Vitamin C and bioflavanoids (from berries and citrus fruits). Other supportive nutrients that help neutralize toxins include minerals (selenium, copper, zinc, and manganese); antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E; and thiols. We also get these vitamins and minerals primarily from whole grains, fruits/vegetables, and nuts/seeds. Thiols come specifically from cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, kale, brussel sprouts, and cabbage.

A “detoxification diet” simply implies that a person take a specific period of time to cut out unhealthy foods and eat more foods rich in the nutrients that support the body’s natural ability to detoxification. There is NOT one specific correct way to carry out a detox diet. There are 1,249 “Detox” books and 749 “cleanse” books on Amazon.com. There is even a “Detox for Dummies” book.

The general premise of a detox diet is to cut out sugar and flour, all processed foods, sodas, alcohol, caffeine, additives/preservatives/artificial sweeteners, and to minimize pesticides. The result of cutting these foods out would mean eating only whole grains, fruits/vegetables, healthy fats, water, and tea. Some recommend also eating oily, cold water fish during a detox period. Other important factors would include light exercise, adequate sleep, increasing water intake, and relaxation.

Obviously, we should strive to live this lifestyle as much as possible every day. Taking a limited period of time to intentionally “detox” is an alternative for those who are challenged with a busy, high stress life.