|Dr. Jennifer Kessmann, MD
Functional Medicine Doctor
Detoxification Enhancement Expert
All people can benefit from eating a healthy diet with foods naturally high in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. If you have toxicity concerns, however, your body may be extra sensitive to many foods, even healthy foods. So you want to pay closer attention to food sensitivities, and how your body responds after eating certain foods.
Many diet fads call for a restrictive diet with a limited meal plan that leads people to eat the same foods day after day. A concept I learned while working at the Environmental Health Center in Dallas is that many people need to rotate their foods including healthy foods. When a person is toxic, the immune system sometimes gets so confused, it can react to almost everything. Rotating your foods may help.
You also want to look into the packaging the food or water come in.
I mentioned packaging because anything that touches your food has the potential to wind up in your body. Let’s examine drinking bottled water for instance; the plastic bottles are a petroleum byproduct and can be toxic or harmful in so many ways. You want to drink more fresh water, but you also need to get away from the plastic drinking containers.
Foods To Avoid On A Detox Diet
I recommend many of my patients to start eliminating the six most reactive foods that are more likely to trigger an immune reaction:
- Tree nuts
If a patient is highly sensitive, I would next look into high lectins foods (beans, legumes) and nightshades and eggs as well.
These are the foods you want to start to weed out with an elimination diet, or to test for food sensitivity, as many people have sensitivities to them. Overtime, eating these foods can lead to many issues such as inflammation, eczema, psoriasis, joint pain, brain fog and even depression. Again, not all people, but for people with sensitivities to these foods. When your body is toxic, you are more prone to food sensitivities in general. So getting your toxicity under control can also affect what foods you can tolerate in the future.
What Foods Should I Eat On A Detox Diet?
While different people may benefit from eating different foods, there are a few general guidelines that may be very beneficial for the detox diet.
You want to stick to foods our ancestors ate, before processed foods or GMOs were brought into the mix. This is a concept that the paleo diet and the autoimmune paleo diet get absolutely correct; these older primitive foods are what our body is used to over a vast evolutionary period, generation after generation. GMOs and processed foods have only been around for a very short time and they have the potential to confuse and harm our bodies. If our body isn’t sure if what you are ingesting is good food or toxic food, it may start reacting to it. Overtime, you can get very sick with gut inflammation and other issues.
So unprocessed lean meats and colorful organic fruits and vegetables can make the bulk of your diet. Everyone may have different food sensitivities, you might be a person that isn’t affected by GMOs or you might have an intolerance that sends your health into a tailspin, it’s kind of like Food Russian Roulette, why chance it?
Juicing & Smoothies For Detox
Juicing as a way to detox the body is a highly popular trend but not one that I generally recommend. Reducing fruits and vegetables down to the juice liquid form removes fiber from the equation and breaks the food down to simple sugars. The fiber in fruits and vegetables is very beneficial from a gut detox perspective, due to its ability to bind and absorb certain fat-soluble toxins and activate the digestive system, so the toxins can be eliminated through the stool.
While smoothies keep the fiber, they are usually low in fats, proteins, and amino acids which can help the gallbladder flowing and may support healthy liver detoxification.
Both juices and smoothies are often very high in sugars, so you really have to be careful with what type of juice you’re doing. While fiber can support the healthy gut bacteria, if you’re doing high sugar juices or smoothies, you may be supporting the dysbiotic bacteria and yeast. Green vegetables juices are generally a better option, as they have lower sugar content, while still high in nutrients and antioxidants.
If you’re going to a store to get juices make sure they’re not adding Agave or any kind of sugar into the juice. Juices often are made from the older fruits that have molded and these of course would be extremely inflammatory.
Another concept with juicing is that it may benefit people due to all the potentially harmful foods they are eliminating while doing a juice. This can be part of the benefit from juicing.
Supplements For Detox
Certain supplements can help support your body’s ability to detox. In my experience, it’s difficult to maintain adequate nutrition just from eating foods with the standard normal diet. In our testing, we see many patients that have deficiencies, even after eating healthy and taking supplements. For this reason, I often suggest supplements to patients, especially in cases of toxicity.
Just like diet, the supplements you may need can be different from the ones your friends are taking. There are, however, a few supplements that can be very beneficial for detoxification.
- B vitamins and essential minerals are required in order for your enzymes to work, creating energy and allowing your body to effectively detox. Some people cannot methylate very well, so they may benefit from a methylated form of B vitamins. Certain DNA genetic testing such as 23andMe can help to find the methylation status of a person, so you will know if this may be an issue.
- Glutathione is one of the most potent antioxidants and cellular detoxifier found naturally in the body. Glutathione has the ability to bind to water-soluble toxins, so they are marked or targeted to be removed by the body and in the liver.
- N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) is a great liver support that can help removing toxins from the liver. It can also help the body to make glutathione. I often recommend my patients to supplement NAC, sometimes with the amino acid glycine to help their bodies produce glutathione.
Weight Loss & Detox
The weight loss & detox topic is another trendy one. In some cases, high levels of toxins can make it hard for the body to lose weight. So it is possible that after you detox, you notice it is easier for you to lose weight.
When it comes to weight loss, however, it is important to look into the complete picture. Your diet, hormones, and other lifestyle factors can influence your weight. Ongoing stress for example, can elevate your cortisol level, and overtime may cause the body to gain fat, rather than losing it. In this case, it’s important to address the high stress in order to decrease your cortisol level if you’re looking to lose weight. This may also mean, that you should be looking at a gentle exercise plan that doesn’t elevate your cortisol levels. I see people that workout extremely hard hoping to lose weight faster but end up more fatigued. Their cortisol goes up as a result of the intense workouts, and they gain more weight, usually around their midsection.
I hope you find this total-wellness approach to a natural and healthy detoxification helpful. I wish you the very best success in your journey to a better health.
How to detox your body naturally: the functional medicine approach; learn when detox may be necessary and how to naturally and safely detox your body.
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