Cleansing and detoxing
Cleansing and detoxing...through the power of food.
By Sarah Stevens, Naturopath and Director at Luxton Clinic.
OK, so we have all heard the words ‘detox’ and ‘cleanse’, and when we see the sun starting to shine, many of us crawl out of our winter hibernation in search of that healthy glow. So, why do a detox? A detox or cleanse can do more than make your eyes sparkle and your skin glow – it can boost energy levels, improve digestion and help manage stress levels, not to mention make us feel a little lighter. Cleansing and repairing the body using nutrient-dense foods that are easy to digest can also help to promote our elimination channels.
Every day our bodies are working to clear out waste products either produced by the body to help us function better or environmental toxins we are surrounded by on a daily basis – skincare, personal hygiene products, pollution, pesticides, plastics, stress and much, much more.
The purpose of any detox or cleanse is to take the load off the organs that detoxify the body – the liver, kidneys, bowel and our skin – while at the same time supporting and improving their performance. Improving digestion is a big part of a cleanse – constipation, diarrhoea, wind and bloating are signs that our gut is imbalanced. In a healthy gut we have thousands of bacteria that help us to create nutrients, brain chemicals and improve elimination of waste products.
The essentials to improving our gut function is to eliminate foods that add extra burden on our digestive system such as processed grains (flour, cakes, bread, biscuits), sugar, dairy, alcohol, trans fats (heated oils) and caffeine.
While eliminating these foods helps to take the burden off our gut, the focus is to also repair our gut function by including foods that can restore bacterial balance and improve digestive enzyme and stomach acid production.
Luxton Clinic’s top four gut healing foods are:
- Bitter foods – these stimulate bile and stomach acid production: rocket, dandelion leaves, dill, artichoke, endive, lemon, apple cider vinegar, broccoli, cabbage.
- Bone broth – full of minerals, gelatine and amino acids to help heal the gut wall and improve liver function.
- Fibre – combining soluble and insoluble fibre to help ‘sweep’ the bowels, improve stool bulk and to help absorb waste products to be eliminated: psyllium husks, chia seeds, slippery elm and raw vegetables.
- Prebiotics – these are my favourite as they not only help to decrease gut inflammation, they also feed our good bacteria: mixed fibre, fermented foods – sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha tea, miso soup.
Once we have restored our gut function, we look at our kidneys and liver to help improve how we break down and process hormones, chemicals, inflammation and waste products. Our liver relies on amino acids from protein, especially methionine, to detoxify hormones and environmental chemicals along with fats. Fats are one of the most potent detoxifiers in our body and can help to clear out heavy metals, pesticides and hormones.
Antioxidants and phytochemicals are also a vital part of cleaning out waste and inflammation from our bodies. We like to think of them as the mop for all oxidants and free radicals produced by our body in states of stress, hormone imbalance or poor diet. Colourful, fresh and organic fruits and vegetables are full of antioxidants, particularly our darker green and purple fruit and veg, which are high in a potent phytochemicals as well as vitamins C, A, E – essential for detoxification as well as skin health.
Luxton Clinic’s top four liver and kidney cleansing foods include:
- Protein – oily cold water fish (sardines, fresh anchovies, salmon), organic chicken, turkey, grass fed lamb, organic free range eggs, lentils, beans and peas.
- Cold pressed vegetable oils – olive, coconut, macadamia, avocado, flaxseed.
- Green leafy vegetables – cruciferous greens are high in phytochemicals, as well as potassium, which enhance liver and kidney function, balancing our hormones: broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, swede, brussels sprouts and cress.
- Herbs and spices – coriander, parsley, turmeric, dandelion, ginger, lemon, Alfalfa, nettle, cumin, saffron, rosemary, cinnamon, garlic.
Water is SO important for our bodies to function properly and including six to eight 250ml glasses of filtered water – and avoiding drinking it from plastic bottles – helps our kidneys, skin and bowels to flush out waste and toxins.
I always start my day with a warm water, squeeze of lemon juice, slice of ginger and fresh turmeric, which helps to stimulate digestion, improve hydration after sleep and helps to eliminate waste products.
Lastly, but definitely not least, as part of any cleanse or detox we can’t forget our skin, which is a major elimination channel. I always recommend skin brushing each day before a warm (or if you are brave cold) shower using a natural bristled brush and working in soft circular motions starting at the feet and working up to the heart. Yoga, especially hot yoga, is also brilliant to encourage detoxification through sweating and stimulating the lymphatics, which sit close to our skin.
Find out more about Sarah and our partnership with Luxton Clinic, here.