This simple seven-day plan from naturopath Teresa Mitchell-Paterson will put a spring in your step!
A detox is all about taking the chemical and stress load off your body system. While it’s actually preferable that we do this most of the time, even just a seven-day detox can potentially kick start sound new habits. However, this is not a lifestyle diet, so using it for longer than one week may cause nutrient deficiencies due to the lower kilojoule intake. Discuss the detox with your healthcare practitioner to ensure there are no contraindications: if you have cancer or are pregnant don’t do this detox; however, pre-pregnancy is fine, as it’s a great way of preparing the body.
* Stock up on a range of brightly coloured, fresh seasonal and organic vegetables and fruit. If organic isn't possible, at least soak vegetables for two minutes in a white vinegar solution to degrade the chemicals: one cup of vinegar to four cups of water.
* Eat no meat, or very little. If you don’t want to give it up entirely, choose organic lamb, chicken or fish - they’re more easily digested. Avoid processed deli meats.
* In fact, all processed foods are off the menu. So, cook up a storm, using those veggies to make soups or stews and other easy, nutritious meals. The blog http://ohmyveggies.com has loads of flavour-packed recipes.
* There’s no point doing a nutritional detox if you’re still using chemical-laden cleaning products and cosmetics. Choose natural alternatives.
* Rise earlier and walk in a park, nature reserve, or beach. The negative ions absorbed from being in nature detox the mind. Plan your week so you go to bed early and wake early - this improves the melatonin cycle, which helps you to destress and resets hormonal balance.
* Don’t sweat the small stuff. Download guided meditations or calming music to help you reduce stress levels.
Fruit and vegetables Hopefully, this produce-intensive week will provide the impetus to eat more produce, which are anti-ageing, anti-cancer, and decrease the risk of lifestyle diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The way do this is to aim for a Trolox Equivalent Antioxidant Capacity (TEAC), the most commonly used method for measuring antioxidant capacity. The goal is 11,000 TEACs daily, which equates to two serves of fruit (2500) and five to seven serves – 400 to 500g – of vegetables. For maximum health benefits and ease of digestion, meals should consist of 75 percent vegetables and 25 percent wholegrains or beans (including tofu or, preferably, tempeh as it’s fermented and so slightly easier to digest) to provide essential amino acids necessary to make complete proteins.
Oils Use fresh, cold-pressed, and ideally organic omega-3 and omega-6 oils in dark glass (not plastic) containers on vegetables and salads or in soups. Avoid corn oil: it’s one of the hardest oils for the human digestive system to process.
Dairy Fermented dairy is fine, along with soft cheeses like ricotta which are more easily digested than hard cheeses. Unless you have direct farm access to nutrient-rich unpasteurised and non-homogenised milk, which can't be transported because of the high risk of bacterial infection, leave milk out of the detox equation. Instead, make your own nut or seed milks. Avoid most packaged varieties – a scan of the ingredient list will explain why.
Grains Choose traditionally-made sourdough loaves rather than commercial breads. Traditional proving methods break gluten down to a more digestible protein, and sourdough fermentation makes grains more digestible, stabilising or increasing their phytonutrients and lowering the bread’s glycaemic index. Numerous websites have recipes for sourdough, including The Kitchn (www.thekitchn.com). Ideally, grains, seeds and legumes should be sprouted. In grains, this breaks down the gluten. In legumes, it reduces phytates, making it easier to access and digest nutrients. However, be careful in hot weather because that warm, moist environment can facilitate the growth of bacteria, so refrigerate them and eat within a day or two.
Herbs and spices Add these to everything you cook, as they’re really high on the TEAC list, especially:
* Turmeric An immune booster, anti-inflammatory, and good for the stomach
* Black pepper A gastric stimulator which provides thermogenic (warming) properties in cold weather.
* Basil Calms the nerves – a detox can fray your nerves when cravings strike! It has a detoxifying effect, taking the load off the liver.
* Thyme Antimicrobial, antibacterial.
* Parsley Contains vitamins A and C, and one tablespoon offers over half of the daily recommended intake of vitamin K.
* Coriander Chelates heavy metals, e.g. from dental amalgam fillings or smog.
Drink warming, soothing fenugreek tea, which is highly nutritive, anti-inflammatory, and a mild laxative. Long used as a herb for convalescence, it’s a good pick-me-up during a detox. Loaded with vitamins, minerals and enzymes, nettle tea’s traditional use as a blood purifier in skin diseases also makes it an excellent detox herb; plus, it regulates blood glucose levels so they don’t plummet.
Recipe: Breakfast to go-go
This breakfast blend kickstarts your digestion. Combine one-quarter cup packed spinach, kale or other dark green leafy vegetable; half a teaspoon fresh grated ginger; half an apple; one carrot; and one stick of celery. I blend rather than juice the mixture to retain the fibre. Follow with a small handful of activated nuts, such as cashews, almonds or Brazils to get the complete complement of amino acids.
Finally, give your digestion a break. Have your last meal at 6 p.m. and don’t eat again until breakfast, because decreasing glucose and therefore insulin during this fasting period actually regulates release of leptin, an important regulator of food intake and body weight. And, by allowing time to decrease glucose levels, you won't be quite so ravenous the following morning.
Naturopath Teresa Mitchell-Paterson (BHSc CompSci, MHSc HumNut, AdvDip Nat) is a member of the Australian Traditional Medicine Society. www.atms.com.au