To Detox or Not to Detox?
With New Years offering a fresh start, you’ll probably ask yourself, “Do I need to detox?”. I have to admit, I’ve asked this question a few times. At first glance, the idea delivers wonderful benefits – immediate weight loss, a “cleaner” body and more energy. Unfortunately, most detoxes will only leave you making frequent trips to the bathroom.
PILLS AND PLANTS
While many supplements claim to be a detoxifying regimen, the active ingredients are usually laxatives or diuretics. There’s also no guarantees about what the actual ingredients are and if they’re even safe. Detox products are often recalled due to safety issues.
Most detox diet plans are based on either drinking lots of liquids and/or eating fruits and vegetables for anywhere from 24 hours to 10 days. The Master Cleanse, or The Lemonade Diet, has been around a long time and promotes fasting through drinking a concoction of lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper. Dr. Oz’s24 hour Detox Diet includes fruit and vegetable juices and soups. The gray area – most of these plans have never been researched on human beings, and it’s uncertain whether they are effective or safe. Whatever the plan may be, most are extremely low calorie and high fiber, creating quick, unsustainable weight loss and frequent trips to the bathroom.
CLEANING INCLUDED: HEALTHY LIVER = CLEAN AND HEALTHY BODY
Our bodies are actually equipped with a natural detoxification system that removes waste and toxins. In fact, we have a whole organ devoted to the task – the liver. The livers many important jobs:
Plays a crucial role in breaking down fat and protein, producing bile and moving byproducts for excretion.
Responsible for helping to eliminate toxins and harmful components of environmental pollution, medicine, and smoke.
Contains specialized cells that actually filter out bad bacteria and proteins.
Metabolizes alcohol, regulating blood alcohol levels and its excretion out of the body.
BOOSTING LIVER FUNCTION WITH FOOD, NOT FAT
Research identifies certain foods that best support the liver in its detoxification role: Cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, kale, collards, kholrabi, are the best group of vegetables to consume daily. Not only do they provide an excellent source of major nutrients like vitamin A and C, folate and fiber, but they also contain high concentrations of cancer fighting phytonutrients. Other powerful foods to support your detox system include apples, turmeric, ginger, green tea, blueberries, beets, and flaxseeds.
With an excess of either dietary fat or alcohol, fat storage can occur, and in extreme cases, the liver becomes fat-infested.
High fat diets interfere with liver function – the liver’s full focus becomes breaking down fat, absorbing it and storing excess calories in adipose (fat) tissue.
Alcohol metabolism will take precedence, which means good nutrients aren’t being utilized and filtering of other harmful substances isn’t happening.
START WITH YOUR HEAD
The positive side to detoxifying has to do with your brain. When you focus on putting only good, clean food in your body, you become acutely aware of the not-so-good stuff you might normally choose to eat. So detoxes can have a way of resetting your brain to choose more whole foods. Instead of following an extreme diet plan, I recommend focusing efforts on including detox foods into your everyday eating plan. Simply put, aim to eat two types of fruits or vegetables at every meal and snack. If you did this at all 3 meals and at least one snack, you would consume 7-8 servings of produce in a day, which is the recommendation for optimal health and disease prevention.
Jenna Braddock is a local sports dietitian promoting balanced living through her blog, www.freshfoodperspectives.com, counseling and speaking. Follow her fresh perspective on Twitter @JBraddockRD.
Avocado Rubbed Kale Salad Recipe
Avocado Rubbed Kale Salad
2 cups finely chopped fresh kale
½ ripe (soft) avocado
1 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar*
¼ cup your favorite toasted nut, chopped (try walnuts or pecans)
Pinch of kosher salt
Directions: In a medium-sized mixing bowl, scoop out avocado onto chopped kale. Using your fingers, massage avocado and salt into kale so that it’s completely coated. Dish salad onto plate and drizzle with vinegar and nuts. Enjoy!
This salad is also great warm. Just heat the coated kale in the microwave for 20 second.
*Alternatively, ½ cup of balsamic vinegar can be simmered for about 20 minutes to reduce down to a thicker, sweeter drizzle.