It’s important to know the basics of a healthy detox diet before you begin
Is a healthy detox diet right for you? In a nutshell, detoxification is the process of clearing the body of potentially harmful chemicals. This includes carcinogens and other environmental toxins, such as air pollutants, digestive by-products, hormones and pesticides, that we intentionally and unintentionally ingest or produce through the body’s normal metabolism.
The majority of the detoxification process takes place within the liver and gastrointestinal system and is divided into two main phases. The first involves the breakdown or modification of toxins into different forms. The second involves binding these newly formed chemicals to specific protein molecules to be excreted by the body.
Phase 1: Breakdown of toxins
Toxic elements are biochemically altered by a group of enzymes known as the cytochrome P450 system. This system of enzymes destroys or transforms harmful chemicals and toxins through a series of biochemical reactions known as oxidation-reduction reactions and hydrolyzation.
These biochemical processes alter the shape of the toxin, making it more attractive and readily available for binding in phase two of the process. These intermediate metabolites are known as xenobiotics.
(Did you know these herbs can also help get rid of toxins?)
Phase 2: What you should eat
In a process known as conjugation, the altered toxin is coupled with a protein molecule to make it more soluble in water and easier to excrete in bile or urine.
A detoxification diet begins with the exclusion of simple sugars, saturated fats, alcohol, caffeine and foods containing additives and preservatives, which lessens the load on the liver and kidneys.
I recommend organic foods to decrease exposure to pesticides and exogenous hormones. Foods such as lemons, beets, carrots and artichokes stimulate the cleansing process in the liver, so these should be increased. Here’s an easy tip: Start your day with hot water and lemon instead of coffee.
Protein is essential for cell manufacture and repair, enzyme production and liver regeneration. Choose lean organic protein sources, such as fish, egg whites, turkey, chicken, protein shakes and soy/tofu, as your main protein sources.
You should be eating one gram of protein per kilogram of your body weight per day, divided into three meals. (If you weigh 60 kilograms, you will need 20 grams of protein at each of your three meals.)
Whenever you start a detox or any natural supplement, check with your healthcare practitioner to ensure that it is safe for you. (Here are six things you should know before starting a healthy detox diet.)