This will fall into the category of things like a juice cleanse, vegetarian for 14 days, only eating raw, etc. While I don't agree with all the different extremes that can fall into this category (more on that later), I do think that food is the best place to start and also can benefit everyone.
My ideal food detox consists of eating clean, avoiding more inflammatory foods, and drinking plenty of water, therefore avoiding:
Processed food - basically anything that has a wrapper!
Sugar, including pop and juice
Products with artificial flavours and colours (basically, see the second bullet)
But then what would I eat? Actually, a lot! Simply it would look like this:
Water: 8-10 glasses a day
Meat: organic, grass-fed.
Fish: wild caught, focusing on: salmon, trout, herring, mackerel, anchovies, and sardines
Vegetables: organic (at least the Dirty Dozen), making sure to not eat the same thing every day (you really can overdose on Kale). I like to tell people to focus on 3 different groups of veggies in a day: Leafy Greens, Richly Coloured, and Sulfur-Rich (cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, asparagus, Brussels Sprouts), and getting 5-6 Cups per day
Fruit: 2 servings a day max
Now this is a general template, and if you're one of my patients then it may look familiar to you! The foods removed above really are the top 6 more inflammatory foods but it's important to remember that this is in general. It's a great place to start and reduces the inflammatory load on your body for the 2-3 weeks you do it.
Key Foods for Detox Support:
those Sulfur-Rich ones listed above support a key process in the liver called 'sulfation' (sulfur, sulfation ... get it?). This binds up toxins with sulfur molecules and is part of the second phase of liver detoxification. So eat that broccoli!
Brightly coloured vegetables: rich in antioxidants, vitamin C, beta-carotene (what your body makes Vitamin A out of)
Leafy greens, such as parsley, cilantro, spinach, swiss chard as these have tons of minerals to further support these processes
Lemons and other bitter veggies (rapini, for example): this stimulates your gallbladder to squeeze, releasing bile which encourages dietary fat to be digested and help you to have a bowel movement. More bowel movements = less stuff lingering around when it should move out.
Protein: see below
What I'm not crazy about: low protein cleanses. Protein is pretty darn important - all of our enzymes, muscles, and signalling molecules use protein and amino acids as building blocks. Glutathione for example is the most important anti-oxidant in our body and a pivotal role in the Liver, and is made up of cysteine, glutamic acid, and glycine - 3 amino acids. This is the main reason I tend to avoid juicecleanses, particularly when they are in long periods. This isn't to say I hate juicing, because I really do think they have a place as a medicinal food. I'm just saying that 4 weeks of having nothing but juices is a pretty high carb diet that will leave you light headed, tired, cranky, and wreak havoc on your blood sugar. People also tend to come off of these extreme diets and binge on the very food they were cleansing from, so trying to keep some semblance of moderation helps to minimize this.
BOTTOM LINE: To detox using just food, keep whole foods in mind and minimize the processed stuff.
Stay tuned for the next instalment, herbal detoxes!