Detox diets are quite a thing in the nutrition world, and are taken up by a few health enthusiasts. Read on to know what science tells about such diets and how you can safely detox at home.
Detox diet and its benefits
Detoxification, depurative, or detox diet is a trend in nutrition based on the fact that compounds in our body undergo a process called oxidation which causes stress in the internal environment. The substances that are formed in the process are called free radicals, which go on to damage our cells and accelerate the process of ageing. They are thus harmful toxins along with other environmental pollutants that must be eliminated.
Antioxidants, which are known to reduce the formation and increase the elimination of free radicals are considered helpful in maintaining a healthy balance. A full-body detox diet plan is focused on eliminating these free radicals and primarily comprises antioxidants. However, it must be noted that our body is already equipped with organs like the liver, kidney, digestive system, and skin to eliminate toxins and a detox diet can only enhance their function to cleanse the system.
How can you do a detox diet at home
If you’re looking to begin a detox diet at home, the following are suggestions that may assist you in your endeavour.
Start with drinking sufficient water: Water does a lot more than just quench our thirst. Urea and carbon dioxide are the breakdown products of cells and can turn toxic if they build up in the body. Water is an important medium to detoxify the body by diluting the waste matter such that it can be easily excreted out as sweat and urine. It also helps to maintain body temperature.
Eat a diet rich in antioxidants: Antioxidants are extremely vital for the smooth functioning of the body. They can eliminate the reactive species with the potential of causing damage to our cells, and can also stabilise certain toxic metals which would otherwise disrupt the internal environment. Vitamin C present in citrus fruits and vitamin E present in nuts (almonds) and seeds (sunflower seeds) are important antioxidants to be consumed from the diet. Alternatively, a diet rich in fruits like berries, orange, mango, and papaya and vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, beetroot and green leafy veggies can also help provide a hearty dose of antioxidants as these food groups contain plant bioactive compounds which possess the ability to scavenge harmful species.
Include prebiotics: Prebiotics are that part of the food that cannot be digested by our stomach and intestinal enzymes, but they deliver a host of benefits. They allow nutrients to enter the body while keeping harmful microorganisms at bay. They also help in the formation of mucus membranes in the gut, which shows antimicrobial properties. It protects the lining of the gut from mechanical stress and regulates the movement of harmful substances, ensuring they are secreted out. Dietary fibre found in whole grains, pulses, fruits, and vegetables are examples of prebiotic, which also acts as food for the healthy microorganisms in our intestines.
Don’t skip out on the probiotics: Probiotics refer to the healthy microbes living in our body, especially the skin and large intestine. They break down the fibre to release substances called short-chain fatty acids which make the gut environment more acidic and inhibit the growth of dangerous pathogens and microbes. Thus a gut cleanse diet must include a healthy dose of probiotics, as found in curd and other similar milk products. Besides, when healthy bacteria begin to thrive, they drastically reduce the levels of harmful microorganisms and serve as an important detox for weight loss.
Bite into the goodness of omega 3 fatty acids: Omega 3s are a type of essential fatty acid that are credited to being anti-inflammatory. Apart from the overall body, omega 3 rich sores like fish oils and flaxseeds are foods for kidney cleansing as they bring down the ill effects of omega 6 fatty acids that may be inflammatory in excess proportions.
Engage in physical activity: Inflammation is usually our body’s response to injury, and while some of it is good, long-term inflammation can weaken our body. It can lead to the accumulation of free radicals that can start a chain reaction and destroy our cells. Exercise is credited with having anti-inflammatory effects, and can be an important element to be added to the detox routine.
Excess alcohol consumption: The liver is an essential detoxification organ as it can convert toxins to water-soluble compounds that can be easily excreted. Since excess alcohol consumption can put a burden on the liver, the resulting ill effects would lead to the inefficiency of this organ to flush out toxins. Thus, limiting alcohol can enable the liver to carry out its tasks uninterrupted.
Overindulgence in sugar and processed foods: Similar to alcohol, processed foods and sugar can also play a role in decreasing the functionality of the liver, thus negatively impacting its function to detoxify toxins.
Extra salt consumption: Salt has the tendency to retain water, which is why too much of it may prevent water from being excreted, indirectly preventing the elimination of toxins.
Tips to detox at home
When you begin your detoxing journey at home, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Include green tea in your diet, as it is a rich source of antioxidants.
- Eat spinach, avocados, asparagus, and okra as they are some of the best sources of glutathione, a compound that acts as a natural antioxidant in the body.
- Berries are especially regarded for their antioxidant potential, so don’t forget to include them in your diet. Besides, they are high in resveratrol, an antioxidant that can reduce overall inflammation as well as in the kidneys, making them essential kidney detox foods.
- Avocadoes, garlic, and turmeric are some of the liver cleansing foods, so make sure to include them in your detox diet.
- While focussing on a gut cleanse diet, include fibre as well as curd or tofu which act as probiotics. Besides, these fibre rich sources like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and phytonutrients can act as detox for weight loss.
- While drinking water is essential, overdoing it can lead to water toxicity, and you don’t want to end up with it. Moderation is key!
- Get a good night’s sleep, so the body has enough time to repair and reap maximum benefits from the detox foods you’ve had throughout the day.
- Don’t follow detox hacks unless they are scientifically proven.
While our body is equipped to naturally combat the stress of pollutants and harmful substances, there are a few dietary habits that can aid the body’s defence systems to perform its functions better. A detox diet from time to time may thus be beneficial provided one does not starve themselves of important food groups for an extended period. Moderation is key when it comes to altering your diet, and one should always consult a doctor before making any major modifications to their daily nutrient intake.