While popular detox and cleanse diet plans offer lofty claims, a “detox” focused on healthy whole foods may be the best way to cleanse.
From the lemon juice-and-cayenne concoction popularized by Beyoncé to fruit and vegetable juice liquid diets, “cleanses” are all the rage. Proponents claim that these plans help your body to flush out the “toxins” that build up from preservatives, alcohol and caffeine in our diets. There is little scientific research to support such drastic (and often expensive) plans. In fact, following all-liquid diets lacking in vital nutrients may even reduce your body’s natural ability to rid itself of toxins and free radicals.
So what is the key to a healthy and effective “cleanse” diet? It may be as simple as eating plenty of fruits, vegetables and fiber-rich whole grains and drinking enough water.
Experts seem to agree that one major benefit of a whole foods detox diet is breaking old habits. Cutting out processed foods and focusing primarily on fruits, vegetables and whole grains can be a new beginning for people looking to start afresh with a healthy lifestyle.
Follow this simple four-step guide to clean up your diet and retrain your taste buds without a “diet.”
4 Step Guide to a Healthy Cleanse Diet
- Drink plenty of water.
Water is essential for your body’s natural detoxification pathways, facilitating excretion of toxins. Choose water and other sugar- and caffeine-free drinks to ensure you stay well hydrated. If you find yourself missing your morning cup of joe, reach for a glass of green tea which contains powerful antioxidants that aid in detoxification.
2. Up your intake of fruits and vegetables.
Fruits and vegetables contain phytochemicals that promote detoxification. Cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, cabbage, and kale are especially good at helping the liver to get rid of toxins.
3. Choose whole grains and high fiber foods.
Fiber binds to toxins and helps your body excrete them while also decreasing the amount of time harmful compounds spend in your digestive system. Good sources include oats, brown rice, whole grains, beans and flaxseed.
4. Exercise regularly.
According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, adults need 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate or 1 hour and 15 minutes of vigorous physical activity per week. Break it up throughout the day and the week, and be sure to add some muscle-strengthening activity too.
So what’s the bottom line?
Avoid cleanses that include dangerous laxatives or are extremely low calorie or all-liquid diets. Instead eat a healthy diet of whole foods that includes at least 1,000 calories per day. After three to five days of “cleansing,” transition to a balanced and sustainable healthy diet that includes fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy. Wondering what that looks like? Check out the MyPlate Guidelines and try the eMeals Clean Eating Meal Plan for a simplified approach to a clean and healthy lifestyle.