Detoxification, or detox, is the process of removing toxic substances from the body. Diets that claim to achieve a full detox in a matter of days have been around for decades, and several methods exist. While not scientifically proven to remove any toxins from the human body, many people claim feeling more focused and energetic during and after detox diets, most likely because of avoiding processed foods.
Note: This article does not contain information on how to detoxify someone undergoing treatment for alcoholism or substance abuse. Detoxing from alcohol or other hard substances, particularly benzodiazepines, should always be conducted under the supervision of a medical professional.
Part 1. Short-Term Detoxes
Do a fruit detox. Fruit detoxes are a great way to fast without starving yourself. Getting enough fruit can increase your energy levels, help manage your weight, and even reduce the likelihood of stroke. You can either detox by eating a variety of different fruits, or by only eating one kind of fruit. For best results, choose a fruit that you enjoy eating so that you don’t feel like you’re suffering. Do not exceed 7 days in a row of a fruit-only diet.
- Eat citrus fruits. Oranges, tangerines, grapefruit, lemons, and limes have the highest detoxifying effects. You can eat them on their own or combine them with other fruits. Again, do not exceed 7 days in a row of a fruit-only diet.
- Try a grape detox. Grapes contain resveratrol, which can protect against cancer and diabetes, and potentially prevent blood clots. They are also a great source of potassium and vitamin C. Eat nothing but grapes (whichever kind you like) for 3-5 days.
Do a liquid fast. Consume nothing but liquids (water, tea, fruit juice, vegetable juice, and/or protein shakes) for 2-3 days. Liquid diets can help jump-start weight loss by restricting caloric intake, and are believed to cleanse your body of certain toxins, though there is no solid research to back up this claim.
- Be sure to include fruit and/or vegetable juices in your liquid fast to ensure that your body is getting the proper nourishment.
- If your goal is to lose weight, then you will have to change your eating habits once the liquid fast is over, or you will simply gain all the weight back.
Eat only fruits and vegetables for 7 days. Fruits and vegetables contain the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients your body needs to stay healthy. Be sure to eat a diverse combination of produce to ensure that you are getting the proper nutrients. Use the following guide to determine what to eat during your fast:
- Get fiber from kidney beans, black beans, apples, soybeans, blueberries, and artichokes.
- Get potassium from carrots, bananas, lima beans, white potatoes, cooked greens, and sweet potatoes.
- Get vitamin C from kiwis, strawberries, kale, cauliflower, tomatoes, oranges, Brussels sprouts, mangoes, and bell peppers.
- Get folate from cooked spinach, melons, asparagus, oranges, and black-eyed peas.
- Get good fats from avocado, olives, and coconut.
Part 2. Long-Term Detox Practices
Eat organically-grown produce and meat. Conventional produce is grown with chemical fertilizers and synthetic insecticides, while organic produce is grown with natural fertilizers and pesticides. Organic meats have far fewer harmful antibiotics, growth hormones, and medications that are fed to animals on conventional farms.
Check labels to determine whether or not a food is organic. Organic foods should have a green USDA Certified Organic Seal.
Drink enough water. Getting enough water is essential to your health. Among its other health benefits, water helps maintain your body’s fluid levels, which helps your kidneys flush out the body’s main toxin, blood urea nitrogen.
Drink lemon water. Add lemon, orange, or lime juice to your water throughout the day. These fruits contain citric acid, which helps your body cut down fat. Plus, adding flavor to your water can make it a lot easier to get those 8 daily cups in! Brush your teeth in between meals to prevent acid erosion from the citrus.
Cut out alcohol. Research has suggested that alcohol may be linked with the onset of certain types of cancer, including breast cancer in women. Though you don’t have to cut it out entirely, stick to one glass of wine or beer a night, at most.
Avoid added sugars. Consuming excess sugar on a regular basis can cause your blood sugar levels to spike, putting you at greater risk for heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers in the long run. Read all nutrition labels and beware of added sugars in bread, salad dressings, and sauces.
Limit your exposure to harmful toxins in the air. These include carbon monoxide, radon, and asbestos, all of which may be found in homes.
- Carbon monoxide is a potentially fatal odorless chemical that is produced from furnaces, grills, and car engines. Side-effects include headaches, dizziness, and lethargy. Consider getting a carbon monoxide detector in your home, and keep your home properly ventilated.
- Homes and buildings should be properly tested for asbestos and radon.
Meditate. Many religions and philosophies advocate fasting as a way of refocusing the mind and developing a sense of peace. While you’re detoxifying your body, try to rid yourself of grudges, anger, sadness, and other negative feelings. Use the time you would usually spend eating or preparing food to think about your goals and aspirations. Distill your thoughts in a journal.
Don’t overdo it: Above all, find a balanced, achievable program that combines daily exercise and changes to a healthy diet, with regular, qualified supervision. Remember you are trying to set the stage for healthy habits – not further stress your body with rapid, extreme and unsustainable change. Try to avoid binging as you come off of detoxing.
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