If you’re thinking about going on an all-liquid “detox,” stop! Drinking expensive juices or wasting your time blending up every vegetable you can find to consume in only liquid form won’t do much for you or your health. For the most part, the specialty “detox” foods and drinks industry is a sham and a huge waste of money. Unfortunately, I know too many people who’ve tried them, sang their praises, and then realized it was a big mistake—both for their health and their wallets.
Your body gets rid of toxins naturally; that’s the reason why you have your intestines, kidneys, and liver. It’s also why good bacteria live in your gut and why you go to the bathroom regularly (that is if you’re eating a healthy diet). There are no little goblins living inside of you that a magical juice detox program will fix.
But just because your body has these bacteria and organs, it doesn’t mean they are always firing at 100%. Giving them what they need to improve their performance can relieve the burden of a less-than-adequate diet and allow your digestive system and metabolism to function flawlessly. That’s right, you don’t need specialty detox products; you just need to make some additions to your diet and get a little better at navigating the local grocery store.
The four main components of keeping your digestive and metabolic systems intact are prebiotics, probiotics, fiber, and vitamins. These four things work in unison to process and remove waste, keeping your body efficient, healthy, and toxin-free.
Prebiotics are non-digestible fiber compounds that stimulate probiotics, or healthy gut bacteria. When they enter the digestive system, your gut flora begin to go to work, breaking down nutrients, distributing what you need, and getting rid of what you don’t need. The inclusion of prebiotics in your diet promotes immunity and relieves a large metabolic burden placed on the liver. Inulin is the prebiotic that works best and can be found in foods like artichokes and asparagus.
Probiotics are the good bacteria in your gut that break down food, improve waste management, and promote regular bowel movements, along with a number of other health benefits. You can purchase a number of probiotic-fortified foods and supplements, but my favorite source is Greek yogurt.
Soluble and insoluble fiber both play a role in keeping your body free of toxic buildup. Soluble fiber, like the kind found in oats, binds to toxins and cholesterol, pulling them through and out of your body. It also causes bile excretion from the liver that helps this highly important organ function more effectively. Including oats in your daily diet is highly recommended.
Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, is found in a number of foods, but green, cruciferous vegetables pack a lot of punch. This type of fiber promotes regular bowel movements. Broccoli and Brussels sprouts are two foods that are packed with healthy insoluble fiber.
Finally, a number of vitamins and antioxidants also help keep your body’s cleanup crew working effectively, especially the B vitamins and vitamin C. Vitamin C is found in broccoli, oranges, and other citrus fruits. It aids in liver function, while also helping to repair and protect damaged cells. B vitamins, like those found in sweet potatoes, help keep you toxin-free by helping your body break down and absorb nutrients that promote cellular and metabolic health.
My main point: Don’t be tricked by witch doctors selling some expensive, “miracle” detox cleanse; it’s a waste of money. Be smart and shop effectively, and you can stay healthy year-round.