Allow us to begin by defining detox or detoxification in the context of diet modification for optimum health. Detoxification is the removal of toxins or the effect of such in the body through a dietary regimen. It is believed that our bodies are inundated with numerous toxins each and every day through bad diet, food additives, pesticides, air pollution, cigarette smoke, alcohol and caffeine. Together with stress and depression, accumulation of these ingested toxins can affect our different body systems and may eventually cause illnesses. Elimination of these toxic elements improves the functioning of many body systems that provide better sleep, energy, mental alertness, healthy skin as well as enhanced immune system function. On the other side of the court are the opposing views stating that there is no evidence that detox diet actually removes toxin from the body and that it has no proven health benefit. Well this statement could be true because more scientific evidence is still needed for it to be generally acceptable.
From the standpoint of someone like us who are seeking health, wellness and long productive life, whatever sounds logical is always worth a try. As mentioned in a previous blog on Natural Body Cleansing Detox Diet Recipes, we wanted to be proactive and try whatever is logical to improve our health and the quality of our life rather than having no option later on but to try everything out there to cure a lifestyle disease that could have been prevented in the first place.
Subgroups in the detoxification diets as categorized in Detoxification Diets include raw food diets, which are based on the premise that uncooked foods prevent the accumulation of toxins in the digestive system; mono diets, in which the dieter consumes only one or two foods (sometimes in liquid form only) for a period of 10-14 days; juice fasting, in which the dieter consumes large quantities of fruit and vegetable juices along with water and herbal teas for one to three days; and vegetarian or semi-vegetarian detox diets, which allow the dieter some variety of cooked whole grains, steamed vegetables, fresh fruit, and small amounts of protein foods as well as several glasses of water and herbal teas each day.
Wanting to be realistic with our goals, we chose to follow the least restrictive…semi-vegetarian detox diet. This will serve as a springboard for us to engage in a healthier lifestyle and hopefully halt the development of any impending lifestyle diseases. After the detoxification regimen, which will last for two weeks, we can continuously adapt some of the healthier ways that are sustainable in the long term and appropriate even to our children. For now let us share with you the guidelines that we will follow in our detoxification or detox adventure. These were formulated by putting together whatever information gathered about the subject that sounded logical to us. This is more like the dos and don’ts in natural body cleansing detox diet.
1. Include only the following foods in the detox diet meal plan:
- Fruits- fresh, frozen, dried or canned in natural fruit juice.
- Fruit juice- make homemade fruit juices or smoothies from fresh fruit, or drink pure and unsweetened ready-made juices.
- Herbal, fruit and green teas (caffeine-free). Take green tea for its antioxidant property and calming effect.
- Vegetables including beans and lentils- fresh, frozen or canned in water (without salt added).
- Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes (minimum)
- Brown rice and rice noodles, rice cake and rye crackers (minimum)
- Fresh fish or canned salmon and tuna in water
- Unsalted nuts and seeds (avoid nuts, especially peanut, if you are allergic or sensitive to it)
- Plain popcorn- without sugar or salt
- Live natural yogurt/probiotics
- Extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar
- Garlic, ginger and fresh herbs
- Naturally brewed soy sauce (minimum)
- Ground black pepper
- Honey, Organic coco-sugar or Muscovado (minimum)
- Red meat like pork and beef, chicken, turkey, and meat products such as sausages, burgers, pate, luncheon meat, meat loaf, etc.
- Milk, cheese, cream and other dairy products
- Eggs, shellfish, shrimps, crabs, lobsters (other detox programs allow these at minimal amounts)
- Butter and margarine
- Any food that contains wheat (bread, croissants, cereals, cakes, pies, pastry, etc.)
- Battered and breadcrumbed foods
- Salted nuts and seeds
- Junk foods (chips and processed snacks loaded with salt and artificial flavors)
- Chocolate, candy, donut, jam, and other preserved fruits- loaded with sugar
- Processed foods, and ready-made meals and sauces
- Alcohol- not to add more pressure to the liver. It has an acidifying effect and contains yeast, both bad for our body.
- Coffee, carbonated drinks and caffeinated tea
- Sauces, pickles, store-bought salad dressing, and mayonnaise
- Salt and processed sugar- to appreciate the natural taste of foods often masked by these condiments, deload the kidneys, minimize water retention and stabilize insulin levels
4. Source natural and organic foods as much as possible to diminish accumulation of pesticide residues and other synthetic chemicals in the body.
5. Drink at least 8 glasses (equivalent to 64 oz) of water everyday to improve mood, rehydrate skin, boost immune system and increase metabolism. This will also ensure that we don’t get constipated especially with the increase in our fiber intake. Adequate fluid intake will hasten the process of elimination of toxins through urination and defecation.
6. Eat small frequent meals and chew the food thoroughly to increase metabolism and burn unwanted fats efficiently. Avoid feeling hungry, and more so, fasting.
7. Start the day with lemon-water for its antioxidant and good toxin-flushing properties.
8. Take regular gentle to moderate exercise like walking, stretching or even yoga. Go out of the house, breath fresh air and stay away from smoke. Nobody in our family smokes but for those who do, cigarette is prohibited during detox.
9. Everyday, do a few minutes of meditation and read articles on positivity for greater mental clarity. It’s like detoxifying the mind.
10. Take time to wind down and avoid stressful situations that will increase cortisol level leading to low immunity and high blood pressure. Do home-made body scrubs and massage to improve circulation and promote relaxation.
The immediate observable benefits we expect from this endeavor are restored vitality, healthier and younger-looking skin, minimized bloating incidence, better mood and improved immune system function. If we continue to embark on healthy lifestyle with minimized toxic loads even after this detoxification program as well as engage in detoxification twice a year as recommended, then we would expect the following: controlled blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure levels, reduced risk of cancer development and longer active and productive life.
The trade off? We are expecting higher expense in terms of money, time and effort, not to mention the sacrifices of not being able to eat some of the food stuff we have been accustomed to. This is like paying the premium for health now rather than paying it off with interest later on in life. Hope you know what I mean.
photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/lollyknit/ / CC BY 2.0
Note: I will post the actual two-week semi-vegetarian detox diet program that we are going to follow in the next few days. So please keep coming back, or better yet subscribe via RSS or email using the subscription widgets at lower right hand side of this page.
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