There has been much hype surrounding cleansing or detox “diets” over the last couple of years as major celebrities and weight loss experts rave about their amazing effects and results. As a nutritionist I receive many questions regarding the reasons behind completing a cleanse and whether or not weight loss will be achieved. Well let me tell you, our bodies naturally detoxify every day, detoxification is a normal body process of eliminating or neutralizing toxins through the colon and liver, a cleanse simply helps your body do an even better job at this process.
If you do a cleanse properly very little weight loss should actually occur, this is NOT a good way to lose weight as what is being lost is usually muscle. Any fat lost will be rapidly gained back after the “diet” is over. A safe and effective cleanse can be done over the weekend as a jump start to a more whole foods based diet and a healthy more energetic life!
Completing a cleanse simply involves eating whole, raw foods that are packed with nutrients to boost the activity of key enzymes and nourish the body’s most important detoxifying organs—the liver, the lungs, the kidneys, and the colon—so they can do their jobs better and more efficiently. Spring is an excellent time to detox after the long winter months indoors, breathing re-circulated air and eating less raw, fresh foods. Cleansing is not recommended during pregnancy and breast feeding as it releases toxins into the blood stream. Once baby is weaned give your body a weekend of amazing nourishment, cleaning, and re-energizing but hold off until then.
My cleanse recommendations are very easy, for 48 hours focus on eating only raw fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Once you have your groceries done all you have to do is sit back, eat amazing food and spend time focusing on releasing inner tensions and toxins!
Here are the top 10 things to eat and drink during your cleanse.
1- Drink tons of water with fresh squeezed lemon, lemon is high in Vitamin C which is used by the body to make a substance called glutathione. Glutathione helps the liver detoxify harmful chemicals. This should be the first thing you ingest in the morning.
2- Drink detoxifying tea throughout the day, organic green tea and dandelion root tea are great options. Dandelion is a natural diuretic helping the kidneys flush out toxins released into the blood stream. You should be drinking something every hour.
3- Eat plenty of fibre, this is the part of the plant that we cannot digest so as it moves through the intestines it binds onto toxins which can then be eliminated. Fibre also helps you feel full for longer. So eat plenty of plants such as prunes and get those pipes moving!
4- Load up on greens!! Greens are highly nutritious, water dense, antioxidant rich, high in fibre and they also balance the PH of the blood! They are perfect for cleansing, or any day of the week as they naturally help detoxify the body. Kale and spinach are the most popular but try some that you have not had in a while such as arugula, dandelion and watercress or herbs like basil and parsley. Cabbage is another amazing green that strengthens the livers ability to detox and break down excess hormones. Cabbage also cleanses the digestive tract and neutralizes some of the damaging compounds we ingest and inhale.
5- Eat tons of fruit! Fruit is high in fibre, water dense and very high in vitamins and minerals. Some of the best fruits to eat while cleansing are:
- Apples, which are high in pectin, a type of fiber that binds to cholesterol and heavy metals in the body, they help eliminate toxic build up and to cleanse the intestines.
- Blueberries, truly one of the most powerful healing foods, blueberries help lessen chronic inflammation and block toxins from crossing the blood-brain barrier to gain access to the delicate brain tissue.
- Cranberries, cleanse your body from harmful bacteria and viruses that may be lingering in your urinary tract as they contain antibiotic and antiviral substances.
- Grapefruit, an excellent intestinal and liver detoxifier as it contains pectin and natural antiviral substances.
6- Eat plenty of the following vegetables! They are great to include in smoothies, salads and blended soups:
- Avocados, a great cleansing food as they provide good fats while eating raw and are nutritional powerhouses helping to lower cholesterol and dilate blood vessels.
- Beets, contain a unique mixture of natural plant compounds that make them superb blood purifiers and liver cleansers.
- Celery, an excellent blood cleanser and contains many different anti-cancer compounds that help detoxify cancer cells from the body.
- Seaweed, binds to heavy metals to help eliminate them from the body. In addition, they are full to the brim with minerals.
7- Get plenty of Flax. Flaxseeds and Flaxseed Oil are loaded with essential fatty acids, particularly the Omega-3s, flaxseeds and flaxseed oil are essential for many cleansing functions throughout the body.
8- Eat raw garlic! This powerhouse cleanses harmful bacteria, intestinal parasites and viruses from your body, especially from the blood and intestines. It also has anti-cancer and antioxidant properties that help detoxify the body of harmful substances. Additionally, garlic assists with cleansing the respiratory tract by expelling mucous build-up in the lungs and sinuses. Crush it up into your salad dressing and make all those veggies taste amazing!
9- Avoid all together any caffeine (except for the green tea) and alcohol. These both cause the liver and kidneys to work twice as hard taking energy away from a deep detoxifying and cleansing of the blood.
10- Ditch any and all sugar and processed foods. They both wreak havoc inside the body and have no health benefits whatsoever. Stick to raw foods and you virtually eliminate processing all together.
There are plenty of raw foods recipes for smoothies, salads, blended soups and ideas on how to incorporate the above listed foods in a yummy way. It is also a good idea to include probiotics, herbal laxatives and antioxidants to increase the cleansing effects as well as massage therapy, saunas, aromatherapy baths, deep breathing and daily walking.
So begin your spring cleaning soon and continue to incorporate raw, whole foods into your daily diet as your body begins to feel lighter and your energy soars!
Lindsey Youell N.C