An essential metabolic function of all your cells is detoxification, and this mostly happens naturally without you having to do anything about it. Living in the modern world provides a greater challenge to our good health due to the level of chemical pollution we encounter through our food, air, water, and personal care products. This in-turn creates a bigger reliance on us having the correct balance of nutrients to make sure these natural detoxification processes happen optimally within our liver, kidneys, bowel, skin, and lungs. As well as great nutrition daily, you can help your body to detoxify more effectively with a short-term intensive detox programme a few times per year.
There are ways to maximize the results you will get by taking time out of your busy schedule to relax as well as eliminating certain foods during this time.
An opportunity to check for food sensitivities
Starting a detox programme provides a great opportunity to identify certain foods that may not be well tolerated in your body. Some foods are more commonly reacted to and include gluten, eggs, soy, nuts, shellfish, and dairy. You can make a point of eliminating all or some of these food groups from your diet during the detox, especially if you suspect some of being more of an issue for you than others.
Some sensitivities to foods are actual allergies and are obvious because they cause immediate physical symptoms (e.g. anaphylactic shock, swelling or rash), while others cause a slower, less obvious (masked) reaction by the immune system that may take a day or two to show physically (chronic inflammation, skin rashes, brain fog, digestive issues). Those causing masked reactions are harder to identify, so they are the foods we’ll look at here.
To explore the effect that different foods have on your health, you can try an elimination diet. Choose a food (for example wheat) to completely eliminate from your diet for 21 – 28 days. Observe if any changes occur with your health, then introduce one serving of the food you have been avoiding and note if anything happens in the body. Wait for 2 days and try another serving of this food again. If the food you have been avoiding doesn’t cause any symptoms when it is reintroduced, then it can be returned to the diet. If it does, then it may be best avoided on a regular basis. Elimination of another food can be started.
More about common allergy food groups
- Gluten-containing grains –barley, rye, oats, wheat (B.R.O.W). Some people appear sensitive to wheat yet not sensitive to other gluten grains, or can tolerate the ancient wheat varieties such as spelt (dinkel). However, if wheat is a problem then you really need to check your response to the other gluten grains too.
- Dairy – milk, cream, ice cream, cheese, butter, yoghurt. People with a cow’s milk allergy may be able to digest some yoghurt, because it’s fermented, and/or goat’s or sheep milk products which are often more easily digested and tolerated.
- Nightshade (Solanaceae) family of plants – potatoes, tomatoes and chilli peppers are the most commonly reactive foods in the nightshade family. However, all nightshades contain compounds that can contribute to creating more inflammation in certain people. Other nightshade foods are capsicum, aubergine, chilli, cayenne, paprika, tamarillos, cape gooseberries, goji berries and the tobacco plant.
- Pulses or legumes – peanuts, (not a real nut), soy and soy products are the main offenders in this group. There are two problems with soy – firstly most of it is genetically modified, secondly unfermented soy products contain both phytic acid and phytoestrogens which can undermine hormonal and immune function, particularly in women and children. Fermented organic, non-GMO soy products such as miso, tamari and tempeh are generally safe in small amounts. Other members of the pulse family include beans, peas, chickpeas, lentils etc.
Other foods to avoid during a detox for best results:
Refined sugar provides very little nutritional value and is used widely in processed foods as an additive (muesli bars, cereals, biscuits, fizzy drinks, and yoghurts). Unfortunately, this means that most of us eat more of it than we realise. Sugar in processed foods can contribute to the high rates of Type II Diabetes that the western world is experiencing. According to the organization Diabetes New Zealand, in December 2015, over 260000 people in NZ were on the Virtual Diabetes Register and is considered one of the largest and fastest growing health issues we face.
Synthetic Food additives
These may be included in processed foods to make the food seem more appealing by adjusting the colour and flavour, or as preservatives. Some of these additives have been linked to adverse reactions such as asthma, headaches, or allergy responses like rashes. Use of these synthetic food additives is regulated by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ).
Common synthetic food additives include:
- 621 Monosodium glutamate, often added to savoury processed foods like crisps, crackers, meats;
- 951 and 962 Aspartame, a sweetener used commonly in fizzy drinks, confectionary, and ‘sugar-free’ foods;
- 220 sulphur dioxide, a preservative found commonly in wine, dried fruit, processed meats.
Hydrogenated / trans fats
These are vegetable oils that have been made to be solid at room temperature, for example, margarine, vegetable oils used to cook fast food, vegetable oils used in processed foods and commercial baked goods. These fats should be avoided eaten regularly due to the fact that they can increase your risk of heart attack, coronary heart disease, and stroke. They are also associated with a higher risk of Diabetes II.
Over-use of stimulants
These can all deplete the body of key nutrients needed for proper function, such as B vitamins, vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Magnesium. The usual offenders like alcohol and coffee should be moderately consumed, while recreational drugs, cigarettes, and caffeinated energy drinks should be avoided.
Find a detox programme with good information about what you CAN eat, and put those health-promoting foods on the top of your shopping list to feel the benefits.
-The HealthPost Naturopaths
The BioBalance Herbal Detox Program is a carefully designed two-stage program that helps prepare your body to achieve maximum benefit from detox herbs while minimising unpleasant effects. It provides you with options for both a short-term intensive detox and long-term ongoing maintenance of detox and elimination, and includes the Herbal Detox Program Brochure, a comprehensive guide to successful detox and healthy eating patterns.
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