If carrying out a detox at home, diet is crucial. What we eat is so important for us to say healthy.
Reducing toxins in our diet
Much food that we eat contains small amounts of chemicals such as pesticides, pollutants, and preservatives. These create additional work for the detox organs so should be minimized.
Foods produced organically contain fewer of these toxins, which certainly can accumulate in the body. Some of them are known to be dangerous; for many others, they may be very harmful long-term – we just don’t know.
So, it is wise to use food grown without chemicals wherever possible. Grow it yourself, or obtain it from friends – or buy organic food. At least you can then be sure that your food prepared at home will have fewer chemicals in it.
More expensive? Yes. But it is worth trying to economize in other areas so that you can use as much organically produced food at home as possible.
Home detox – choosing your food
My general recommendations for a home detox diet – and for health in general, are
- Reduce starchy foods (carbohydrates) to a minimum
- Eat reasonable amounts of protein
- Eat large amounts of vegetables
- Eat a large proportion of those vegetables raw (unless you really HATE salads)
- Eat small amounts of raw fruit – especially berries
- Avoid fruit juices
- Use cold pressed olive oil to dress salads (it’s green, not yellow, which is heat-pressed)
- If cooking food, use low temperatures in general – steam, boil, poach, cook in a low oven – 250 degrees C, gas mark 1 1/2. In other words, avoid frying, grilling (broiling), barbecues, roasting
- Avoid dairy foods – milk, cheese, butter
- Drink water, herb teas and green tea
There is no need to be extreme when detoxing: it’s what you do at home 95% of the time that affects you the most. Any improvement will help your body’s natural detox functions.
Now, when thinking about helping detox, let’s consider the main categories of food; proteins, starches, fats, vegetables, fruit.
Proteins in the diet
When detoxing at home, remember that proteins and starches (next section) produce the most acid by-products in the body after they are digested. This is a scientific fact. These acids make detox more desirable, as the body is naturally slightly alkaline – the opposite of acidic.
Meat and fish consist mainly of protein; nuts and seed contain a mixture of protein and fat; beans and lentils contain a mixture of protein and starch; vegetables (and mushrooms) contain small amounts of protein; fruit contains tiny amounts of protein.
Protein is essential for the structures of the body – eg cell walls; also for making the enzymes which enable millions of reactions which keep us alive. Excess protein can be broken down and used for energy.
A combination of protein and salad or protein and vegetables is the best meal – probably for lunch and dinner.
Examples: a choice of protein – fish, chicken, beans (eg lentil dahl, bean casserole, humus), aubergine dip, egg, cottage cheese, nuts – with salad or vegetables.
Starchy food includes the sugars – sugar itself, honey, maple syrup – as well as rice, pasta, bread, potatoes, and anything made from grains, including wheat, corn, barley or millet. Beans and pulses are also fairly high in starch, but not as high as the grains.
Grains are about 80% starch and 10% protein. Beans about 70% starch and 20% protein.
Though we have eaten starchy foods – particularly grains – for centuries, it is interesting to reflect that, prior to the agricultural revolution (when we started growing grains) the amount of starchy food we ate was very much less. The problem with starchy food is that it is nearly 100% sugar. It doesn’t taste sweet, because it’s not simple sugar. Nevertheless it is still sugar once broken down in the stomach and intestines. Thus, if you wish to detox, cut down on these starches.
Sugar creates massive challenges for the body – especially when eaten in large amounts. This increases the need for detox; but also, some of the major problems caused by excessive sugar include;
- Glycation – the formation of wrinkles in the skin and throughout the body
- Generalized inflammation – which makes you more prone to heart disease among other things
- Metabolic Syndrome – that combination of obesity and diabetes, as well as other ailments, which is affecting millions in the developed countries
The above linked items will give you more detail about these vitally important issues.
Suffice it to say that for good health, and a great detox at home, all dietary sugar – from all starchy sources – should be minimized in the diet.
There is already a fair bit of starch/sugar present in food – beans are around 10% starch, fruit is very high in sugars, any sweet fruit/vegetable is obviously high in sugar – think of carrots, peas, sweet corn. So, to reduce starch/sugar intake to a minimum, it is easiest to avoid rice/bread/pasta/potatoes except occasionally.
This is a huge change in diet for most people; but if you read the evidence of the harm caused by a high intake of starchy food in the diet I think that you will reach the same conclusion.
A diet based on protein and vegetables – preferably raw – is extremely tasty, and easy to make. It is also quite easy to find suitable food at most restaurants if eating
Fats in the diet
When carrying out a home detox, it is well worth considering the fats in the diet.
There is a lot of dispute over how bad saturated fat really is for you; there is even a camp which insists that cholesterol being bad for the heart is a myth. I do not subscribe to this view.
So, for a natural detox best to stick to the general recommendations of:
Reducing saturated fats to a minimum – perhaps 10g a day. Frying or roasting food makes the fats saturated – even if they weren’t before. Fat in meat and any baked goods – cakes, biscuits – is saturated. Cheese contains up to 30g per 100g of saturated fat – read the label. Cottage cheese is very low in fat, so not so bad.
Use cold pressed olive oil for dressings and cooking (eg, adding to soups; using with fish before cooking it (covered, in a low oven for a hour – 250 degrees F, 110 C avoids glycation)
Do not use other oils, such as corn oil, sunflower oil, soya oil – which are high in Omega 6 fats. Omega 6 fats are ‘pro-inflammatory’. They promote heart disease, some cancer, and other illnesses. Whereas Omega 3 fats are anti-inflammatory. Olive oil does not contain much omega 3 – but neither does it contain much omega 6; it’s fats are mainly mono-saturated, which are neither type. So olive oil is nearly neutral with regard to omega 3/omega 6 – whereas other common oils are definitely in the ‘high omega 6’ camp. Therefore they should be reduced or avoided.
The diet to accompany a detox at home must feature vegetables prominently.
Vegetables are a great source of nourishment for the body. If eaten raw they are the best. Vegetables contain huge amounts of nutrients – essential minerals, vitamins. If they are raw, they contain valuable enzymes and fibre (both destroyed by heating).
A very few people will feel that raw food is just not good for them. I do not mean someone who is just not in the habit of eating raw food – I mean someone who just has to try and make an effort. For the people I am talking about, when they eat raw food they just don’t feel good – it doesn’t suit their body. The Chinese call this type of person ‘spleen deficient’. Eating raw food in any quantity will further weaken their spleen – or digestive capacity.
If you are one of a few people, then just try cooking your vegetables as lightly as possible.
Apart from this, if you can eat 75 or 80% of your vegetables as raw that will be fantastic. Even in winter, you can eat a salad to accompany warming suit, or other warm food.
Most fruit is clearly very high in sugar because it taste so sweet. The good thing about fruit is that it contains excellent nutrient levels. Particularly beneficial are the anthocyanins found in the berry family – blackberries, blueberries, loganberries, raspberries, strawberries.
So certainly eat fruit when detoxing – but in moderation, and eat it raw. And favour the berries. Cooking releases the sugar for quick absorption (bad) and breaks down the valuable fibre.
Fruit juice is almost pure sugar water. If you drink this, have very small amounts.
The speed of sugar absorption
The faster the sugar in the foods you eat gets into the bloods, the worse it is for your body. Then, the problems specified above are more likely to happen – obesity, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, heart disease.
We can take some action to slow down the absorption of sugar. Assuming we have cut right down on high starch foods – rice, potatoes, bread and pasta – slow down sugar absorption in these ways:
When we eat fruit, eat whole fruit, don’t drink juice
When choosing starchy food, choose food low on the GI index. This is food which absorbs relatively slowly, and so spikes blood sugar levels less. Porridge oats are an example of a low GI starchy food.
As a naturopath, I have given you here a diet for life – a diet that supports a healthy lifestyle, and helps to minimize the toxins produced by the body.
In this way, as fewer toxins are produced, your body has fewer to deal with, and it can do so more efficiently.
This whole dietary approach may be a bit much for you! Don’t panic!
If you can do everything here, I think you’ll find it good for your detox at home. If you can’t, just adopt some of my recommendations. Review in a month or two and add some more if you can.
My top recommendations for home detox?
My top recommendations for carrying out a detox at home are:
- Increase raw food and salads in the diet
- Reduce the amount of bread, pasta, potatoes and rice in the diet.
If you want to help detox at home, the dietary information given here is a great place to start.
All the very best with your detox.
A complete approach to detox, by Calvin Newstead. Calvin applied detox principles to himself with tremendous success, then left a 20-year career to promote his detox approach.
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