Body cleansing and detox is a popular topic these days, and for good reason. We do, in fact, live in an incredibly toxic environment where our bodies are bombarded with toxic chemicals on a daily basis.
Supplements, herbs, fasts, meditation, exercise, massage and yoga have all be used to varying degrees in order to help cleanse our bodies, but the most important thing that plays a huge part in cleansing is what you eat.
We all have a tendency to want quick fixes to problems and symptoms. We live in an era of pill popping. Pills for this and pills for that. We can swallow a capsule or tablet and get on with our lives thinking that no lifestyle changes are necessary.
But the problem with this approach is that it completely eliminates the connection between food and health that is so vital. Pills may mask symptoms and often create new ones due to their side effects but the underlying problem of a poor diet will not be addressed. In other words, toxins are still building and nutrient deficiencies are getting worse.
Sometimes, we look at food as our enemy – we think the less we eat, the healthier and thinner we will be. But what you do eat is very important. Let your food be your medicine and your medicine your food, said Hippocrates, the ancient Greek physician and the Father of Medicine. Let’s look briefly at some of the constituents in whole foods and their various cleansing benefits.
This is a big one. Fiber is one of the primary ways to eliminate waste from the colon. Without it, bowel movements lack bulk and toxins can build up in the colon. The longer they stay there the more chance there is that they will get reabsorbed into the blood and have to be detoxed by the liver all over again.
Fiber absorbs poisons and moves the waste matter along and out of your intestinal tract. High-fiber diets are also associated with a decreased risk of heart disease. Fast food and junk food all lack fiber.
Some of the best sources of fiber are from:
- Whole grains including bread and cereal, whole-grain pastas, and brown rice
- Nuts and seeds
- Legumes (such as dried peas, beans, lentils)
Vitamins and Minerals
Whole food contains these vital nutrients that are needed for all your body systems to function. Processed foods have been stripped of many nutrients. You use up your stores of minerals in digesting and metabolizing this devitalized food.
Your detox system relies on certain vitamins and minerals to be effective so if you are deficient in any of them your detox system will not work as well as it should allowing the toxins to build up.
Some particular vitamins, such as A, C and E, are used for your body’s own antioxidant system. Iron is needed by the the blood to carry oxygen to your cells. Many vitamins and minerals are needed for the cells to produce energy. Without enough energy they cannot detox themselves.
Other vitamins and minerals help repair tissue and are involved in cell regeneration. Without vitamins and minerals, the body can not repair and rebuild itself after a cleanse.
Many foods contain a complete arsenal of these bodily scavengers including carotene, lycopene, lutein, anthocyanins and flavonoids. Researchers have discovered that they play an important role in helping to prevent disease. They also play an important part in the detoxification system.
Here are some of the best sources of antioxidants:
- Berries — Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries and cranberries are among the top sources of antioxidants.
- Beans — Small red beans and kidney, pinto and black beans are all choices rich in antioxidants.
- Fruits — Many apple varieties (with peel) are high in antioxidants, as are avocados, tomatoes, cherries, green and red pears, fresh or dried plums, pineapple, kiwi and others.
- Vegetables — Those with the highest antioxidant content include artichokes, spinach, red cabbage, red and white potatoes (with peel), sweet potatoes and broccoli.
Essential Fatty Acids
We are just beginning to understand how vital good fats in the diet. It turns out fatty acids are crucial for how each cell functions. The membrane surrounding each cell is made up of a number of different types of faty acids in a certain ratio. An important function of the membrane is to allow nutrients to flow into the cell and wastes (toxins) out.
If hydrogenated and other damaged fats get incorporated into the cells then they can’t and won’t function as they should and the toxins will build up damaging the cell and it’s functions even further.
The right fats are essential for the cells of your liver the major cleansing organ. You can read more about damaged fats here:
You get essential Omega 3 fats mainly from from fresh nuts, seeds, avocados and oily fish. Free range meat contains a good ratio of fatty acids and you get a little from dark green leafy vegetables and eggs
Omega 6 fats come from nuts and seeds and their oils, avocados, meat and eggs,
These are simply natural compounds found in plant foods. Substances such as indole-3-carbinol found in cruciferous vegetables stimulate the detox enzymes in the liver and other cells. Limonene found in oranges, tangerines, dill, and caraway seeds is a strong inducer of both Phase 1 & 2 detox enzyme systems. Phytochemicals or phytonutrients as they are sometimes known tend to have anti-cancer and antioxidant benefits.
So you see what you do choose to eat has a significant role in body cleansing on a daily basis. So, of course, does what you avoid eating. Refined sugar, white flour, and processed foods full of artificial preservatives, colors and flavors will have the opposite effect, building toxic waste in your tissues.