We are living in an increasingly toxic world. Luckily, our bodies are so well designed, that they are continuously detoxifying potentially harmful molecules. Our main detoxification organs are the liver, the kidneys, the gut, the lungs, and the skin. These organs all have to work hard, but the liver has the hardest job.
During our lifetime we are constantly exposed to toxins. These toxins are not just from medication, foods, drinks, and from our environment (think of pollution, pesticides, cosmetics, cleaning products, plastics etc.). The body also has to deal with compounds that are created during normal body processes (like hormones and neurotransmitters), but need to be deactivated and eliminated, so they won’t cause any harm.
Everybody’s toxic load is different and how well your liver can detoxify depends on your age, your sex, your diet, your lifestyle, but also your genes.
There are enzymes involved in the detoxification processes in the liver with intriguing names like CYP1A1. These enzymes need ‘helpers’ called nutrient co-factors to get the detox process going.
This explains that there are certain foods that can be helpful for liver detoxification processes. To give you some examples, B-vitamins are co-factors for phase 1 detox enzymes and vitamin A supports the sulfation pathway in phase 2.
Apart from supporting your body with the detoxification process, juice cleanses can give your digestive system a rest, boost your energy level, help weight loss, and reduce body inflammation.
Improve your diet (if needed). For people who are malnourished (meaning here nutrient-deficient), toxins are far more hazardous, as vitamins and minerals also have a protective function. Cut out processed foods, cut out stimulants like alcohol and caffeine, eat good quality protein, healthy fats and lots of vegetables and fruit in all the colours of the rainbow. Make sure you drink enough water and are sufficiently hydrated.
Review exposure to toxins and once identified, avoid exposure, and replace products with a safer versions, like natural shampoo, glass storage containers etc.
- Look after your gut as it is a detox organ after all, that will excrete toxins. Cut down on sugar, up your fibre-intake and eat some probiotic foods like kefir, sauerkraut, natural yogurt, kimchi etc. to feed you gut microbiome.
Take it easy. You will be consuming less calories than normal, so it is not advised to have intensive workouts or do other strenuous activities. Give your body a rest, it will be working hard enough. Maybe this is the time to start a gentle yoga class or relax with a good book.
- Take the juices in the right order. A juice with a highly active detox ingredient such as citrus pectin or activated charcoal is best taken in the morning, while the m*lks are best consumed at the end of the day when you are possibly getting hungry.
Chew your juice
Although there is really not much to chew, chewing stimulates the release of saliva that contains lots of important substances such as electrolytes, mucus, antimicrobial agents and, important for digestion, enzymes! And that is not all, chewing also stimulates nerves to send signals to the stomach, gall bladder and pancreas, to warn them that there is food on the way, so that they can do their job in the process of digestion. Chewing your juice also makes you consume it slower and not gulp it down.
Mindful eating/drinking means that you pay attention to your food/drink with all your senses, including savouring the taste and texture, making it a more enjoyable experience.
Eat if you are too hungry
Although a juice cleanse is meant to give your body a rest from digesting solid foods, if at some point you find it too hard and you are really hungry, eat something, but make sure it is light, healthy food. Nuts and seeds are a good option, as they contain protein and good fat, and they will make you feel fuller.
Drink water alongside the juices
A juice cleanse does not mean that you can skip drinking water. Hydration is important to deliver nutrients to our cells and to keep our organs functioning well, and don’t forget, we are actually about 60% water!
As our tap water is chlorinated and can also contain traces of toxins such as heavy metals, I would recommend filtered water.
Well done on finishing the cleanse! I hope you notice a difference.
Once you have finished your cleanse, do not start with eating heavy meals, but go for easy-to-digest foods, such as vegetable soups and casseroles, eggs, steamed fish, quinoa, rice cakes, nuts, seeds, stewed fruit, plant based or natural dairy yoghurt. Slowly increase your foods, and if you are a meat eater, introduce meat last, as it is much harder to digest than plant foods.
- Try to minimise toxins from foods and drinks by buying organic produce.
- ‘Eat a rainbow’ – a good variety of bright coloured vegetables, fruits, and herbs, to make sure you are getting enough antioxidants and other valuable nutrients.
- Do not forget the leafy greens! These vegetables are extremely healthy and beneficial for detoxification.
- Eat good quality protein, organic or free-range if possible.
- Make sure to get enough healthy fats such as avocado, coconut oil, flax seed oil, canola oil, good quality olive oil, oily fish (salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, or herring), nuts and seeds.