Natural Ways to Detox your Body.
‘DETOX’ …. The word is all over. It has become a kind of a fad to say that ‘I’m on a detox diet.’ But what is this detox diet all about? Here, in this blog, I shall throw light upon this issue.
Firstly, what is detox?
Detox or detoxification is a process of removing toxins or harmful components.
So, do we consume toxins?
Yes, in a way we do. One may not term them as toxins. But indeed, we are exposed to a host of factors which can potentially cause harm to us. These include – excess fat, large quantities of sugar, processed foods, alcohol, tobacco, cigarette smoke, and pollutants. Our body is also exposed to certain heavy metals such as arsenic, mercury, cadmium, lead and many others through water, food, and air.
What do these toxins do to us?
Excess fat, large quantities of sugar, processed foods, alcohol, tobacco, cigarette smoke, heavy metals and pollutants increase the oxidative stress in our body. In other words, they give rise to high levels of unstable free radicals (chemicals) in our body. These unstable free radicals are believed to be the cause of many diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), peptic ulcer, inflammatory bowel disease, fatty liver, liver failure, cancer and several others.
How do we detox ourselves?
The best way to detox ourselves is to avoid the toxins. Somethings such as excess fat, large quantities of sugar, processed foods, alcohol and tobacco can be prevented. These are very much in our control.
What is beyond our purview is to avoid cigarette smoke, heavy metals, and pollutants. Even if you may not smoke, but hundreds and thousands around you do. You end up becoming a passive smoker. How do we tackle these toxins! As mentioned earlier, all these toxins increase the levels of unstable free radicals in our body. To combat these unstable radicals (oxidants), we need to consume a lot of antioxidants. Alongside, drink lots of water.
What are antioxidants?
Antioxidants are substances which counteract these unstable free radicals and neutralize them. In simple words, antioxidants aid in disposing of the free radicals. Many nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium and zinc act as antioxidants. Some other nutrients such as monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) and omega-3 fatty acids also have similar actions. Besides, probiotics and prebiotics help in the growth of friendly bacteria that assist in preventing digestive disorders.
So, what is a detox diet?
According to me, a balanced diet that contains all the above listed beneficial nutrients would be a detox diet. However, the traditional notion may differ from mine. As per the popular opinion, detox diets mainly include juices, soups, raw veggies, smoothies, and laxatives. In some cases, fasting is also recommended. These diets are advised for a day to a week or more. There are many commercial products which claim to detoxify the body. So, far there is no scientific evidence to assess the effectiveness of such diets or products.
On the contrary, the popular detox diets may be associated with some risks. Extreme fasting is associated with protein and vitamin deficiencies and mineral abnormalities. Individuals are also at-risk of over-dosage of laxatives, diuretics or supplements.
Is there a middle path?
Yes, certainly. Avoid the toxins which you can. Consume lots of antioxidant foods in your regular diet. Fasting does not help with detoxification. It only uses up the stored energy in the body. Instead of consuming only juices, soups, raw veggies and smoothies for a week or more, it is wiser to include them in your daily diet.
Here is a list of foods that should make way onto your plate:
|Vitamin A||Green leafy vegetables, broccoli, orange/ yellow/ red colored fruits and vegetables (carrot, beetroot, tomato, pumpkin, mango, papaya, peach, orange)
Egg, organ meat (liver)
|Vitamin C||Citrus fruits – orange, sweet lime, lemon
Indian Gooseberry (Amla), guava, grapefruit, strawberries, tomato, broccoli, green pepper (capsicum)
|Vitamin E||Oils, oilseeds, spinach, agathi leaves
Oils/ oilseeds – soybean, cottonseed, peanut, corn, safflower, wheat germ
Egg, liver, and muscle
|Zinc||All nuts, wheat, pearl millet (bajra), finger millet (ragi), red gram, Bengal gram, lentil, green gram, soya bean, peas, organ meat, chicken, turkey, cottage cheese|
|Selenium||Wheat flour, Bengal gram dal, green gram dal, lentil, peas, beet green, radish leaves, garden cress seeds, gingelly seeds, flax seeds, organ meat (liver, spleen, kidneys)|
|Omega-3 Fatty Acid||Fish (salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines and albacore tuna), flaxseeds, walnuts, soyabean oil|
|MUFA||Groundnut oil, mustard oil, rice bran oil, gingelly oil, almonds, cashew nuts|
|Probiotics||Curd, yogurt, fermented foods|
|Prebiotics||Whole grains, oats, onion, garlic, asparagus|
Make it a point to include the above-listed foods along with water (> 2L/day) in your diet on a daily basis. In addition to physical detox, you need to detox yourself as well emotionally. Practice yoga, exercise or meditation regularly. Take up a hobby or learn an art form. This will help you de-stress and you also can discover more about the benefits of a low-carb diet.
You need not wait for a special day to detox your body. We collect toxins every day. So, we should discard them every day. What better to detox yourself every day without compromising on the nutrients!
Mitravinda is a Nutritionist at Dietchart with a doctoral degree in Food Science and Nutrition. She is a teacher, researcher, and an author. Her passion for the subject prompted her to start writing blogs on various nutrition-related topics. Through her blogs, she wishes to help people gain a deeper understanding of the relationship between food, nutrition, lifestyle, and health.