How To Cleanse Your Body With Food
Do you feel sluggish, bloated or just frequently under the weather? Are you suffering from seasonal allergies or having a difficult time losing weight? Are you ready to try something new and start feeling good again?
If this sounds like you, then you could most likely benefit from a total-body cleanse. Juice cleanses are very popular for detoxification, but you can also achieve similar results with wholesome foods. Nutrient-rich foods like fresh fruits, vegetables, and high quality animal protein contain vitamins and minerals that can help heal the gut and strengthen your immune system.
8 Signs Your Body Could Benefit from Detox
Toxic foods include alcohol, caffeine, sugar, trans fats, and high fructose corn syrup. While these foods may not be harmful in moderation, they can wreak havoc on your gut and your health when consumed in excess. Too much of these foods can weaken your immune system and increase your risk for illness and inflammation. The best way to prevent toxins in your diet is to:
- Wholesome foods (fruit, vegetables, and high-quality animal protein)
- Organic foods when possible
Avoid or limit:
- Packaged foods
- Toxic foods (alcohol, caffeine, and sugar)
- Inflammatory foods (gluten and dairy)
- GMO foods (corn, soy, and canola oil)
- Fish that are high in mercury (tuna, swordfish, grouper, Atlantic salmon)
How to Avoid Dietary Toxins
If your diet is high in tuna, Atlantic salmon, swordfish or other mercury-containing fish, consider reducing your intake or avoiding them altogether to avoid exposing your body to additional toxins, such as heavy metals. Choose fish that have lower mercury content, like Pacific-caught salmon, tilapia, trout, and flounder.
Alcohol suppresses the central nervous system, which often leads to a weakened immune system. Excessive alcohol consumption can also cause a leaky gut and interfere with nutrient absorption, leading to malabsorption. If you consume alcohol for recreational purposes, consider limiting your intake to 1 to 2 drinks per week. If you consume alcohol to boost your mood or relieve stress, consider relying on mood-boosting supplements or relaxing activities instead.
Caffeine is not inherently toxic, but many people rely on caffeine for sustained energy or regular bowel movements. This kind of dependence is a sign that your body isn't functioning properly and what I would consider a sign that you could benefit from a full-body cleanse. If you’d like to cut back on the caffeine but still want that coffee flavor, consider drinking decaffeinated coffee or roasted dandelion root tea, which has a very similar flavor profile.
Excessive amounts of sugar can be toxic for a number of reasons. Sugar can increase the risk of insulin resistance, suppress the immune system, and perpetuate addictive food behaviors. Simply reducing your current intake of sugar can make a dramatic change, but you can also try to completely avoid sugar for 2 weeks to 1 month in order to decrease your tolerance for sweet foods. If you're currently trying to avoid sugar completely, consider a natural sweetener like stevia or coconut manna if you need to make some palatable.
Gluten is capable of eliciting an inflammatory response which can result in a leaky gut and an increased immune reaction. If you can only make one change to your diet, I would highly recommend eliminating gluten from your diet for 2-3 months to see if you notice improvement. Ideally, I advise all my patients to avoid gluten indefinitely.
Dairy causes inflammation in a large percentage of the population, resulting in digestive issues such as bloating, gas, constipation, and diarrhea, as well as other symptoms, including acne. I find dairy to be one of the most inflammatory foods in our modern diet, second only to gluten.
For further assistance with a food-based cleanse, I have created a self-paced eCourse for those who cannot see me as patients. If you prefer more accountability and guidance, I also have a Guided Cleanse overseen by my Registered Dietitians. You can also find a functional medicine practitioner in your area.