Your best friend just bought a one-week detox kit from Whole Foods, your sister raves about this lemon-juice-and-pepper cleanse, and your mom swears by a “colonic purging” she gets at her neighborhood spa.
Break the news to them gently. They’re all doing potentially irreversible damage with these programs that are heavy in price but weak on science.
Here’s the deal. The Master Cleanse and similar cleanses are almost entirely sugar and provide little if any nutrients. Even worse, they lack protein. Without protein, your body can’t effectively detox.
I’ll spare you the technical biochemistry, but understand the two phases of detoxification and you’ll see how people throw away money and their health on these store-bought and homemade concoctions.
Your liver is detox ground zero. Everything that detoxes goes through your liver in two phases. During the first phase, your liver converts fat-soluble toxins into water-soluble substances. In phase 2, your liver excretes these toxins via urine, sweat, and other bodily fluids.
Here’s the take home. If you don’t have protein, your liver can’t perform that second phase. That means highly toxic metabolites hang around and wreak havoc in your body.
Let’s ‘fess up here: you’re not cleansing or detoxing to rid yourself from toxins, but for fast fat loss. You want to burn 10 pounds by this weekend for your hot date. You’ll probably lose weight on these super low-calorie, near-starvation diets. But most of that weight loss comes not from fat, but water and lean muscle tissue. You’re literally wasting your body away.
Now that you know, you want to choose a smart plan that includes plenty of protein and nutrients to help your body effectively detox.
You’ll begin by dumping the processed foods, gluten, artificial sweeteners, alcohol, and caffeine. (If you’re a monster without your morning java, gradually taper off the coffee and stick with organic.)
So what should you eat while you’re detoxing?
- Clean, lean protein. Have four to six ounces of grass-fed beef, cold-water wild fish, chicken or turkey at each meal. Protein shakes make the perfect meal replacement. I use plant-based (but not soy) protein powder, berries, kale or other leafy greens, flax or chia seeds, with unsweetened coconut or almond milk.
- Sulfur-containing foods. Broccoli, cabbage, garlic, and onions all provide sulfur to boost phase 2 detoxification. Sautee some organic broccoli or Brussels sprouts in coconut oil and garlic. Delicious!
- Go green. Enjoy loads of preferably organic leafy greens. If you’re not meeting your veggie quota, have an organic green drink. And add some cilantro, which is a natural heavy metal chelator, into your meals. And sneak some kale into your protein shake. (You won’t taste it!)
- Fiber. If you’re not eliminating, you’re not detoxifying! Legumes, raw nuts and seeds, berries, apples, and lentils come packed with fiber. Always buy organic if you can. If you’re not getting 50 grams of fiber from food, try a fiber powder supplement.
- Water. Pure spring water in between your meals supports good elimination. I also like antioxidant-rich organic green tea and coconut water to supply your body electrolytes.