Is it a good idea to “detox” or “cleanse”? Doing a detox or cleansing diet may mean fasting, taking supplements or juicing with the goal of slimming down, flushing the colon or removing toxins from the liver. Often, commercial products are promoted with exaggerated claims of health, weight loss and energy. The subject is not only confusing to consumers, but is debated in the medical community.
Detoxification is a natural process by which the body rids itself of toxins, mainly through the liver. These toxins may include compounds such as heavy metals that are ingested from food or water, or chemicals that are inhaled from air pollutants.
Some dietitian specialists may utilize nutrition to support detoxification. A detox diet may call for eliminating certain foods or including specific foods and supplements that support enzymes that aid in cellular processes.
The body uses specific enzymes for detoxification. Several compounds from foods may help boost and modify the activity of these enzymes. Some examples include:
• Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts, for example) as well as green beans, celery and soybeans
• Fruits such as red grapes, blueberries, black raspberries, pomegranates, apples, apricots and grapefruit
• Teas such as green, black, chamomile and peppermint
• Fish oil, salmon and trout
• Garlic and turmeric
A detox or cleansing diet should only be undertaken with the guidance of a physician or registered dietitian. Some plans can actually eliminate foods the body needs for natural detoxification.
Lifestyle and nutrition choices can support the detoxification process. For overall health, be sure to participate in physical activity, avoid smoking, and limit or alleviate stress. It’s also important to eat a plant-based diet of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, beans, whole grains, herbs and spices while limiting the consumption of processed foods, sugars, food additives and preservatives.