I can’t begin to tell you how often people ask me for advice and tips on “detox” diets or detoxification in general. But interestingly enough, to many the concept itself has no real meaning. Basic physiology teaches us that the body has its own built-in detoxification mechanisms and, therefore, an innate ability to cleanse itself.
And, in case you didn’t already know, the liver is the major detoxification center of the body.
Still, basic science aside, I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with supporting the body’s inherent ‘cleansing’ potential with dietary detoxification methods.
Unfortunately, in the mainstream, “detoxification” has basically become an umbrella term that encompasses a lot of erroneous methods claimed to, in essence, purge the body of harmful “chemicals” and “toxins”, most of which are ill-defined and ambiguous.
Now, don’t get me wrong here.
I’m generally a proponent of certain detox methods for jump starting a weight loss, encouraging healthier eating habits or managing certain medical conditions.
But, as a health scientist, I’m also skeptical of those proponents who claim that detoxification rids the body of excess fat and unknown, unproven chemicals and toxins in an effort to sell expensive products and systems. And, clearly it’s working, as people spend millions of dollars each year on expensive detoxification products and diets.
If you’re really interested in performing a detox for the right reasons, there are many simple, natural ways to do this and they don’t necessarily have to come as overpriced, prepackaged systems in a box. Here I’ll highlight some of them for you.
Certain dietary supplements can greatly support your detoxification efforts. While I can name many, there are three that I generally recommend: 1) psyllium, 2) bentonite clay, and 3) liquid chlorophyll.
Psyllium offers numerous health benefits similar to those of fiber-rich whole foods like vegetables and fruits, legumes, and whole grains.
It’s primarily comprised of a substance called mucilage, which supplies both soluble and insoluble fiber. When added to beverages it becomes somewhat of a thickening agent, slowing their overall rate of digestion.
Supplementing with psyllium generally helps the body produce softer, bulkier stools that quickly and easily pass through the large intestines. This is especially beneficial for alleviating common digestive problems like constipation and diarrhea. Simply add 1-3 teaspoons of psyllium to fresh juices, smoothies or shakes. You can also include psyllium in hot cereals, chilis, stews, and even homemade baked goods.
Bentonite clay is known to support healthy lipid balance and aid in the removal of waste products from the body. It also helps to promote “good bacteria” in the digestive system. In traditional medicine, bentonite clay is most commonly prescribed for conditions like irritable bowel syndrome and is also used in the treatment of acid reflux, bloating, and constipation.
For detoxification purposes, simply blend 1/2-1 teaspoon of bentonite clay with water or other beverages (ideally in a supplement shaker bottle) and drink it right away.
Finally, there’s liquid chlorophyll, which I generally refer to as a natural blood purifier and “deodorizer” for the intestinal tract. As you may already know, chlorophyll is the green pigment that gives plants their color. Liquid chlorophyll is actually comprised of chlorophyllin (a derivative of chlorophyll) but it has very similar properties.
In and of itself, chlorophyllin supports healthy blood cell function, helps neutralize free radical production, and has hemoglobin-like effects since it’s very similar in structure. Hemoglobin is the protein that gives blood it’s red color and is largely responsible for transporting oxygen from the lungs to all the body’s cells, tissues, and organs.
Chlorophyllin has also long been used as a remedy for bad breath and body odor. I can personally attest to these benefits, as I followed a vegan diet for over two years during which time I ingested liquid chlorophyll daily to fight ‘vegan’ breath. Once it gets into your system it tends to seep through your pores giving off a minty fresh scent.
Simply add a teaspoon to your drinking water, once or twice a day and you’ll experience results within a few days or a few weeks.
When used individually, each of the dietary supplements I’ve described can induce powerful cleansing effects. You can also combine them for a more aggressive approach. Here’s a simple recipe that I generally follow at least once a quarter for 5-7 days in conjunction with a raw food diet.
- 8-12 ounces of fresh organic apple juice
- 1-2 tablespoons of psyllium husks
- 1 tablespoon of bentonite clay
- 1 tablespoon of liquid chlorophyll
Just add all the ingredients to a supplement shaker bottle and shake them until the psyllium husks have completely dissolved. You should drink the mixture within a minute or two as the psyllium thickens up quickly making it difficult to swallow. After you’ve finished the drink, chase it with an 8-12 ounce cup of water (at room temperature).
You can follow these steps 2-3 times a day for maximum effects.
Fasting with fresh vegetable and fruit juices is generally an excellent method of detoxification or even a suitable way to introduce a comprehensive lifestyle change (diet modification, exercise training or weight loss).
By juice fasting you can reap the many benefits of a rested digestive system without depriving your body of essential micronutrients that promote overall good health.
For detoxification purposes, simply drink 16-40 ounces of fresh juice in 4-8 ounce servings for 3-10 days.
Even if a detox isn’t your goal, regularly drinking fresh vegetables and fruits is a great way to implement both into your diet, as large quantities of micronutrients can be obtained in a single 4-8-ounce serving.
Here are five quick and easy juice blends that can be consumed daily as a supplement to your meals or as part of a juice fast.
- 1 orange
- 1 mango
- 1 apple
- 1 peach (or 1 plum)
- 1 apple
- 1 pear
- 1 apple
- 3 medium carrots (without greens)
- 1/2 green pepper, sweet
- 4 leaves romaine lettuce
- 1/2 lemon, peeled (optional)
- 1 tomato
- 2 medium carrots
- 1 green pepper
- 1 red pepper
- 1 tomato
- 1 celery stalk
- 1 mango
- 2 medium carrots (without greens)
- 1 celery stalk
- 1 small sweet potato
- 1 apple
- 1/2 lemon (peeled or with skin)
Detoxification is a great way to optimize your health and wellness. But, before you attempt to carry out a detox using dietary supplements or even by way of a juice fast, I highly recommend first consulting with a trained professional in order to ensure that these methods are appropriately tailored for your individual needs.
In addition to detoxing, it’s also important to exercise regularly, get sufficient sleep, refrain from smoking, control your stress levels, and maintain a healthy diet rich in disease-fighting antioxidants. This’ll reduce the likelihood of free radical damage in your body and, therefore, decrease your risk of preventable chronic diseases.