Detox diets usually consist of eating extraordinarily little (mostly just raw foods like fruit and veg) and drinking loads of fluids (usually water and herbal teas). The intention of a detox diet is to ‘cleanse’ the body of accumulated toxins.
Although most of us find the first few days difficult, the lightness and improved energy levels that follow give us a feeling of encouragement.
The problem arises a week or two later when we find ourselves slowly returning to the old eating habits. This is usually because these detox regimes are not substantial to support a healthy lifestyle in the long term.
The trouble is that detoxing is often misunderstood. If you have kidneys, liver, and lungs, your body already comes equipped with all that it needs for optimal detoxing to take place.
How Does Detoxification Work?
Detoxification is a 24/7 process that the body performs naturally. Toxins can either be made by the body (such as lactic acid, urea, and waste) or enter the body (environmental toxins like heavy metals, air pollution, pesticides, excess caffeine, chemicals in tobacco, drugs or alcohol, medication, and processed foods like sugar and refined grains.
To optimally detox, we need a variety of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients to support the metabolic processes of detoxification.
Without sufficient nutrients that support detoxification, the liver becomes overwhelmed and this results in inflammation and disease.
Because toxins are dangerous, when this happens, the detoxification systems begin to work in overdrive. Three-quarters of the deactivation of toxins takes place in the liver and the remainder in the intestine.
The end products of detoxification are eliminated by our skin, lungs, kidneys, and the digestive tract, transformed and excreted through urine, feces, respiration, or sweat.
When is the Best Time to Detox?
Our bodies are bombarded with toxins daily. It is important to know that detoxing is not done as a “phase” or “cleanse” that we do each January. Rather, it should be a daily approach that continually supports and assists optimal detoxification processes in the body.
While detoxes are traditionally reserved for the indulgent periods over December and January, support your body’s natural detoxification processes on a daily and consistent basis by including the FitChef smoothies and juices as part of your daily diet, rather than viewing these as standalone meals or just to detox once a year.
For example, freeze the FitChef juices into ice trays and use the ice cubes to jazz up water on a hot summer’s day. For a fun and healthy dessert for the kids, freeze into lollipop molds, and for the adults mix slushy FitChef juices with vodka for a refreshing cocktail.
Try blend a FitChef smoothie with extra milk, yoghurt, or whey protein for a quick snack on-the-go, complete breakfast, or use the smoothies as a lunchbox filler for the kids.
How Do I Support My Body’s Own Detox Ability?
Let FitChef support you in your daily aim to minimize your exposure to toxins and maximize your intake of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients to optimally support your body’s own ability to detox each day.
- Aim for at least five servings of fresh vegetables and fruit daily. Vegetables: allium family (e.g. onions, garlic, chives, leeks), brassica family (e.g. broccoli, Brussel sprouts, bok choy, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, mustard greens, radishes, horseradish, turnips, watercress), beetroot, celery, cucumber, spinach, etc. Fruit: cranberries, blueberries, apples, pears, grapefruit, lemons, oranges.
- Select whole and unprocessed foods. For example, snack on fresh fruit instead of a protein bar, avoid white, refined carbohydrates, limit processed takeaway/convenience meals.
- Drink more water each day, aiming for about 2 – 3 L to keep the gut hydrated and kidneys flushed. You can include decaffeinated teas as part of water intake, or jazz up water with slices of lemon or orange, mint leaves, cucumber slices, and berries. In cooler months decaf tea like Rooibos or herbal tea will add to your daily water quota.
- Consume adequate amounts of lean protein, critical to maintaining optimum levels of glutathione, the body’s master detoxification enzyme. This includes skinless chicken, lean cuts of meat, fish, egg, and dairy.
- Cut back on the bad fats. Fat is metabolized in the liver, so a high-fat diet puts extra pressure on the liver. Watch your intake of unhealthy fats (e.g. fatty cuts of meat, chicken skin, coconut oil, fatty processed meat, hard brick margarine) and eat fewer fatty foods like chips, crisps, chocolate, pastries, muffins, biscuits, etc.
- Choose the right fats like avocado, olive oil, canola oil, almonds, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, pistachios etc.
- Flavor things up with herbs and spices. Prepare your meals with rosemary, cumin, and turmeric.
- Support your gut health by including high fibre foods daily such as whole grains (e.g. barley, quinoa, corn, rolled oats, wild/brown rice, etc.) and legumes (e.g. beans, chickpeas, lentils).
- Exercise and stay active daily. Aim for a minimum of 150 minutes of physical activity per week.
- If you smoke stop smoking. Stay away from second-hand smoke from others.
- If you drink, be conscious of excess amounts of alcohol and binge drinking.
The FitChef Difference
As you have probably picked up many of these tips, like more fruit, vegetables, lean protein, healthy fats and water, and less processed and refined foods, are the basis FitChef’s approach to a healthy and balanced diet.
FitChef encourages healthy, balanced eating on a daily and consistent basis, and would not suggest that detoxing done over long periods.
- Don’t know where to start? Choose a juice cleanse or smoothie kit that best suits your lifestyle, goals, budget, and tastebuds. Keep it brief with the 3-, 4-, or 5-day FitChef Juice Challenge or go for longer with the 10-Day Summer Slimdown Challenge, which also includes 10 FitChef meals to support hungrier bellies.
- The FitChef smoothies and juices are made using whole, raw ingredients like fresh fruit, vegetables, ginger, and lemon. It is important to note that the natural fruit sugar is digested and metabolized very differently in the body compared to added sugars found in soft drinks and other sugary foods. Coupled with this is the added bonus of vitamins and minerals from fresh fruit and vegetables, which of course lacks in unhealthier sugary foods.
- Lyon M et al. (2006) Clinical approaches to detoxification and biotransformation. Institute for Functional Medicine, Gig Harbor, Washington.
- Mahan KL, Escott-Stump S, Raymond JL. (2012) Krause’s Food & Nutrition care Process: Chapter 20 pg. 438. 13th Edition. Philadelphia, Saunders.