After spending the past month enjoying one-too-many cookies, peppermint mochas and spiked eggnogs, eliminating last year’s dietary sins seems like the perfect start. Supplements, coffee enemas, juice fasts, heat wraps and teas all promise a new, detoxified body, but do they actually work?
Detoxing is a rare medical need that’s been turned into a billion-dollar industry. Over the last decade, pills, juices, bars and shakes have been promoted as a magical formula to do everything from improving your health and digestion to getting you back into your skinny jeans.
More often than not, detox diets are nothing but liquid calories that lack the major nutrients our bodies need to function optimally. Following one of these cleanses often results in not consuming enough calories, which can leave you grumpy, hungry, and craving sugar, fat and carbs. In other words, starving yourself for a 3-day juice fast may backfire in additional weight gain once completed.
Fasting doesn’t support the body’s natural detox pathway. Our bodies are designed to clean from the inside; detoxing unwanted material daily through our liver, lungs and kidneys. Eating foods rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber will help your body’s detox pathway function optimally — more than any pill or supplement could.
If you’re motivated to start 2017 out right, follow these 5 simple tips for a healthy start to the new year.
Eat whole foods
A diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds is full of the nutrients needed to support metabolic processes. In addition to an overall balanced diet, you can include certain foods that aid and promote the body’s natural detoxification process. Artichokes, avocados, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, leafy greens, garlic, green apples, lemon and lentils should get the job done.
Fluids help flush out our system, and maintain energy and focus. Since it can be more challenging to get in enough water during the colder months, remember that all liquids count. Try hot green or herbal tea, warm lemon water, broth or broth-based soups to help reach your hydration goals.
Focus on fiber
A balanced diet containing whole, plant-based foods makes it easy to reach the 25-38 grams a day recommendation for fiber. Foods high in fiber include raspberries, blackberries, dried figs, avocado, asparagus, broccoli, chickpeas and oatmeal. If you are not used to a high-fiber diet, introduce these foods slowly and to prevent any intestinal discomfort.
Breaking a sweat naturally eliminates impurities through the skin. Exercise stimulates our blood circulation and lymphatic system, which moves fluid through our liver and kidneys for filtration. While running, walking and biking are great aerobic activities, anything that allows you to move your body works. The key is finding a form of movement you enjoy and sticking with it.
Take a probiotic
New research is showing that bacteria found in our gut plays an important role in how our body functions in connection with overall health. Taking a daily probiotic helps ensure we have enough good bacteria to properly digest food and keep things moving.
Alex Caspero MA, RD, RYT is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Yoga Teacher. She is the founder of Delish Knowledge (delishknowledge.com), a resource for healthy, whole-food vegetarian recipes. In her private coaching practice, she helps individuals find their “Happy Weight.”