This time of year, the words “cleanse” or “detox” appear all too often in magazines, nutrition websites and on the news. These industry buzz words tend to carry a lot of negative connotation due to the plethora of pricy powders, herbs, supplements and programs available on the market today. That said, supporting the body’s ability to detoxify and cleanse is actually a good thing and it doesn’t need to be expensive, gimmicky or restrictive.
Eating vegetables, particularly cruciferous vegetables, supports the liver, which is the central organ for detoxification. Cruciferous vegetables include bok choy, broccoli, brussels sprouts, collard greens, cabbage, kale, kohlrabi, and cauliflower. There are so many ways to incorporate these vegetable into your diet. Try lightly steamed brussels sprouts as a side dish. Kale can be blended in to a smoothie or incorporated into soups and stews. Thinly sliced kohlrabi and cabbage, tossed in a light vinaigrette, can be made into a delicious slaw. Be creative and the possibilities are endless!
Fibre is also an essential component in the body’s ability to cleanse. When consumed, fibre sweeps through your intestinal tract and enables your body to eliminate waste and toxins. That’s not to say that you should go buy Fibre 1 bars or All Bran cereal. In fact, don’t waste your money.
Focus on eating whole grains, legumes, beans, vegetables and fruit as a means to increase your intake of dietary fibre. Most health food stores or organic grocers offer a wide range of organic produce and other excellent sources of fibre like steel cut oats, buckwheat groats, chickpeas, beans, lentils, wild rice or whatever suits your fancy.
Water is vital to our health, and also plays a huge role in cleansing and detoxifying. The kidneys, which act as the body’s filtration system, are dependent on water. They remove waste products from the blood, eliminate toxic substances in the urine, and process toxins from the liver. To keep your kidneys healthy and happy, it is recommends that men consume roughly 13 cups (3 litres) of water per day, and that women consume approximately 9 cups (2.2 litres) per day. You should increase that amount on days that you exercise.
Speaking of exercise, physical activity is another way you can help your body cleanse and detox. People often think of exercise as a way to “sweat out the toxins” and that holds some truth, but exercising also decreases the time it takes for food to move through the large intestine and it encourages bowel function. That means that waste products don’t have much time to stick around in the colon and toxins are ushered out in a timely manner.