Spring is supposed to be the best time not only for spring cleaning but also for cleaning up the mileu interior of our body. A few pointers on how to get into a detox diet and how it helps are outlined in this article.
Detox seems to be buzz word among the health conscious. It is something akin to spring cleaning your house. Dusting, vacuuming, throwing away used, old stuff and creating a fresh, clean atmosphere inside your body. Our body has a detoxifying system in place made up of the liver, lungs, kidneys, gastrointestinal tract, and skin, all of which work to eliminate toxins that enter our body thorough air, water, food and skin. But considering the times we live in, the kind of foods we eat, the lifestyle we follow present too tough a task for these built-in detoxification systems. Some of these un-tackled toxins start building up in our bodies causing a host of health problems like loss of vitality, dull skin and hair, weight gain, abdominal bloating, indigestion and a general feeling of ill-health.
Detoxification therefore becomes essential to make our body jumpstart itself out of the rut of toxin build-up towards a life filled with vitality. The complete detox process includes cleansing of the liver, colon, kidneys and the diet is vital to overall cleansing. A high fibre diet helps in eliminating residual waste from your intestines, the vitamins and nutrition made available by eating fresh fruits, vegetables and nuts provides all the vital enzymes for cleansing the liver and kidneys. Taking a steam bath or a sauna and performing exercise, helps sweat out the toxins accumulated in the skin.
Essentials of a Detox diet:
In a detox diet, you avoid certain foods that overload the system and eat other nutrition-rich foods that speed up mopping of old toxins and waste.
This diet will exclude allergenic foods, which may cause problems with digestion and elimination. Foods like wheat (glutens) and dairy (milk, cheese) are often the cause of many unknown allergies where the person may just be feeling poorly or a sense of bloating and discomfort. Refined sugar is eliminated because of its zero nutritional value and therefore empty calories. Meats are excluded because they may contain added hormones and/or antibiotics and are very difficult to process, taking a long time to be cleared by the digestive system. Tea, coffee and fizzy drinks are also out because they slow down the process of cleansing. Herbal teas are allowed though. Refined, processed and refined, fried or junk foods are also a no-no for any detox program to work.
Eating grains, vegetables and fruits closest to it’s natural form are best while following such a plan. Over cooking destroys the nutritional value of these high nutrition foods. Eating raw, juicing or steaming for 3-4 minutes would be the best options.
The Ayurvedic Angle – According to Ayurveda, the best time to go through a detox routine is the time after winter. A complete Ayurvedic cleansing program includes 15 days of preparation and 45 days of actual cleansing.
Ama_ is the residual matter of incomplete digestion– sticky toxic substance that clogs the channels that carry nutrients to the cells and waste out of the body. Cleansing is done to eliminate ama out of the body. It is essential for this purpose that a person wanting to clear_ ama_ shouldn’t eat any ama producing foods during this period and eat more of ama reducing foods.
Source- Maharishi Ayurveda
Along with the above principles, it is recommended to drink warm water throughout the day to help flush out toxins through urine. A herbal tea made by boiling ginger and fennel is also a good detoxifying agent.
Certain rasayanas (Ayurvedic formulations) are prescribed along with the above diet for maximum effect. These should be taken under the guidance of a qualified Ayurvedic Practitioner
8 detox ideas for life
1. Water – Keep sipping water throughout the day consuming upto 2 litres. Don’t gulp glasses of water hastily as you may swallow a lot of air which in turn causes bloating.
2. Air – Make sure you take a brisk walk in a natural setting preferably. This revs up your circulation and flushes out toxins to the kidneys and liver.
3. Go gradual – Reduce the frequency with which you eat refined foods, red meats, sugar. Go for cereals with half the sugar content of your current sugary cereal, or mix a no-sugar cereal with your sugary cereal. Slow changes make it easier for you to stick by them for life and not just be a follower of fads.
4. Keep up the taste – Good food can be tasty too. Ginger, garlic, lemon rind, freshly squeezed orange, cayenne pepper, black pepper, fennel are some of the spices and flavourings you can add to food to give it a zing and tantalise your taste buds.
5. Fibre – For any meal, choose ingredients with high fibre content. Fibre is the best natural detoxifying agent, sweeping down all the collected debris in the intestines. Choose whole wheat bread over white bread. Play with interesting grains like cracked wheat, red unpolished rice, millets for creating a variety in your meals.
6. Chew – Age-old granny wisdom but completely true. Ever since we started having TV dinners, we have forgotten to chew food. Mixing food well with saliva makes it alkaline and therefore less harmful than food not chewed properly. Not chewing your food properly also means that it stays longer in your gut, fermenting in your intestine causing indigestion and bloating.
7. Organic food – Food that has been not been treated with harsh chemicals and has grown naturally will be naturally good for you. If you have access to organically grown produce, by all means go for it or if you have the means to growing it yourself, nothing like it!
8. Skin brushing – Brushing your body with a soft skin brush rushes blood to the surface capillaries and toxins are eliminated from the pores. Use long sweeps, start at the feet and work up towards the heart. It is a good practice to follow each day for 5 minutes before a shower
A word of caution
While it is good to follow a detox plan once in a while, or a natural foods diet for life, it is important not to go overboard with fruit juice diets or with fasting diets. They may sound very healthful and a fast-forward way to losing weight, but may do more good than harm by disturbing electrolyte balance and causing loss of muscle. Getting into a detox regime with the knowledge and approval of your doctor or a qualified nutritionist is the best way to go about it. Moderation is the key to anything and so also to detoxification diets.
Dr. Nandita Iyer, a nutrition expert and food blogger from Bangalore, whose blog Saffrontrail.com has been featuring healthy vegetarian recipes since 2006.
This post first appeared on APRIL 1, 2007 (https://www.saffrontrail.com/detox-diets-an-overview).
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