Ready to detox? Skip the gimmicks

Kick your body into detox mode, naturally, with these tips.
Healthy green smoothie
A smoothie is often the fastest, surest way to get a heap of nutrients from fruits and vegetables. (For Spectrum Health Beat)

Feeling sluggish from too much sugar? Too many fattening foods? Too much alcohol?

If so, you might be tempted to try a detox diet for a fresh start.

But don’t fall for it—companies are making millions of dollars by convincing people that a detox diet will reset their bodies and help them lose weight.

While those companies say it’ll change your life, chances are it’ll only change your wallet.

“There’s no evidence behind the things people are selling, and they can be dangerous,” said Spectrum Health dietitian Krista Gast, RDN. “Big claims are red flags.”

Gast offers a better route.

“Our bodies are naturally equipped to detox themselves,” Gast said. “Your liver, your respiratory system and your gastrointestinal tract are all natural detox pathways for your body.”

Clean, healthy eating can support your body’s natural ability to get rid of toxins caused by excess sugar, processed foods, medications and chemicals from the environment.

Here’s how to get started:

Detox your cupboard

“Whenever I feel I need to detox, I go through my cupboard and get rid of processed foods,” Gast said. “It helps get your body back into a good place again so you can feel good. You can notice a difference when you get back to eating natural foods in their natural state.”

Eat your veggies

Some of your best choices are cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and kale. They’re full of vitamins, fiber and disease-fighting phytochemicals. Not only do they fight free radicals to lower your cancer risk, they may also activate your natural detoxification enzymes.

Load up on berries

Blueberries are often called a super food because they have powerful antioxidants, which can be very helpful to get free radicals out of the body. Cranberries, blackberries and raspberries are also good options. When they’re out of season, try frozen or dried berries instead.

Make probiotics a habit

The invisible probiotics in yogurt and kefir, a fermented milk drink, help create friendly bacteria in your digestive system. Not all yogurt is created equal—look for the words “live active cultures” on the label to ensure you’re eating the good stuff.

Try more fermented foods

Ready for more probiotics? Add variety to your diet with fermented foods like sauerkraut or kimchi, which is Korean-style fermented cabbage. (Look in the refrigerated section of your grocery store.) Other good choices are tempeh (made from fermented soybean), kombucha (a tangy, effervescent tea) and miso (a paste made from rice, barley or soybeans).

Feed yourself fiber

Ideally you should incorporate plenty of veggies, nuts, seeds and whole grains into your diet. “They support a friendly environment in the gut,” Gast said. To put it plainly: They’ll keep you regular.

Add anti-inflammation foods

Inflammation in your body increases your risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Experts believe you can reduce this risk by incorporating garlic, onion and turmeric and cinnamon into your diet. Other good choices: leafy green vegetables, tomatoes, fruits, fatty fish, olive oil and nuts.

Stay hydrated

Drink lots of water, generally 2 liters a day, for optimum health. (Add fruit or herbs if you find water boring.) The detox value? What goes in must come out. If you drink enough, you’ll probably urinate eight to 10 times a day, which means your kidneys are doing their job.

“It really comes down to lifestyle,” Gast said. “We need to think about how to support our bodies to do a better job.”

For information about a variety of health and wellness classes, go online to spectrumhealth.com.

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