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The real deal on detoxing

More and more people, especially the overstressed, time-strapped, and nutrition-starved, are turning to detoxification to improve their diets and cleanse their systems. But what is detoxing really all about?

Registered dietitian and former media spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Lisa Dorfman dishes the straight goods on detox.

What is detox?

Detox is a naturally occurring physiological process wherein the body rids itself of toxic substances through sweat, urine, and feces, Dorfman says. These toxins typically include air and water pollutants and processed food chemicals. "The body first eliminates these toxins through the gut; whatever the gut can't catch gets into the bloodstream and passes through the liver, which flushes them out."

What is detoxing?

Sometimes, Dorfman says, toxins don't leave our body – they hang around in our lymph and digestive systems.

Detoxing provides your body with a nutritional break so that it can become a better waste dumper and nutrient absorber, Dorfman says. A proper detox lasts for a set period of time and involves eating a specific, nutritious, well-balanced diet that's high in essential vitamins, minerals, fibre, and antioxidants, drinking plenty of water and clear fruit juices, and getting enough rest. You can also incorporate moderate exercise into your routine.

You should talk to your physician or a registered dietitian to develop a detox plan that suits your body and health goals. A detox may be a good way to kick-start a commitment to a well-balanced diet and long-term healthy active living.

What is detoxing not about?

Dorfman says the main misperception about detoxing is that you need to go to a dietary extreme to achieve results. Detox plans people should steer clear of include water fasts, juice fasts, and combination water-juice fasts – or fasting altogether. Detoxing is also not about using laxatives to clean out your digestive system.

"There's a spiritual element to fasting – it's seen as a way to get rid of your sins," Dorfman says. "The truth is that fasting is the worst thing you can do to your body. Your body needs nutrients and energy; fasting just makes detoxing harder."

What should I eat?

A detox diet varies from person to person based on their age, gender, fitness level and dietary restrictions, Dorfman says, but in general, it should include whole-grain foods; probiotic yogurts; fruits and vegetables; sufficient protein sources, including beef, nuts, and salmon; and ample water and clear natural juices. "Make sure there's enough colour and variety in all the food you eat, and that all the food groups are represented," she says.

What are the overall health benefits?

Detoxing helps enhance general physical and mental well-being, Dorfman says. It might even be your springboard to a more permanent healthful diet. "When you're more in tune with your body, you feel better and you look better. It gives you energy and helps you achieve inner peace and enlightenment."

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2020. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source:

Detox diet: do or don't?

News items about the health effects of many popular foods inspire us to think in new ways about what we eat, what we shouldn't eat, and what it's doing to our body. If you're ready to put down the bag of Doritos, large Frappuccino, or box of Oreos and commit to eating better, you might want to consider detoxing.

Here, registered dietitian, and nutrition expert Lisa Dorfman discusses detoxing and whether it's right for you.

What is detoxing?

Detoxing boosts your body's nutritional intake and sheds toxins such as processed food chemicals and environmental pollutants, Dorfman says. This weeklong process involves eating a nutritious, well-balanced diet, drinking plenty of water and clear fluids, and getting enough rest. You can also include light-to-moderate exercises in your routine.

Who should detox?

Detoxing is a good choice for people with diets consistently low in one or more essential nutrients, such as certain vitamins or minerals, fibre, probiotics or antioxidants, Dorfman says. "A dietitian can help you analyze what you're missing and what you need more of."

Who shouldn't detox?

Dorfman says individuals should avoid detoxing, or talk to their doctor or dietitian first, if they:

  • are under 18
  • are pregnant or lactating
  • have a gastrointestinal disorder such as Crohn's disease or gastritis
  • have an autoimmune disease such as lupus or arthritis
  • are training for an endurance event
  • have any other serious health condition not listed here

Which foods should I eat?

Divine detox foods that Dorfman says should make up a balanced diet include:

  • whole-grain cereals, pastas, and breads: high in vitamin B, fibre, and minerals
  • probiotic yogurt: rich in calcium and protein, and the live cultures aid in digestion
  • whole fruits, especially acidic fruits such as orange, grapefruit, lemon, pineapple, and tangerine – if you are taking any medications, check with your pharmacist to see if it's safe for you to have grapefruit or grapefruit juice
  • cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, and arugula: high in vital vitamins and minerals, fibre, antioxidants, and isothiocyanates, which help your body break down potential carcinogens
  • salmon: low in saturated fat and calories, high in protein, and a source of omega-3 fatty acids, which promote heart health
  • water and clear natural juices: digest most easily and keep you hydrated

When should I detox?

Consider scheduling your detox around the New Year – a time of renewal for many – or during spring cleaning, since you're already in an out-with-the-old, in-with-the-new mentality, Dorfman says. Detoxing a few times a year is beneficial, she says: like your car, your body also requires regular maintenance. Ideally, you might begin incorporating some or all elements of your detox diet into your regular diet.

What are the benefits?

Eating better is your body's ticket to improving your energy, preventing long-term health problems, and achieving a general sense of wellness. "When you're healthy and confident in your body, it affects your whole life," Dorfman explains. "You feel better, you're more productive at work, you feel more inspired to liven up your marriage, run a marathon – anything you put your mind to."

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2020. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: