Healthy Ways to 'Detox'

In the early 1900s, a safety practice began of bringing caged canaries into coal mines to help detect any toxic gases. If any dangerous substances such as carbon monoxide were present, the sensitive birds were usually overcome quickly by the exposure to the toxic air. Their sacrifice provided a warning for the miners to leave the mine immediately.

Now in 2018, most people are becoming aware of the new toxins facing our society. Especially when exposure to modern-day toxins – some found in products we may be using everyday or in some environments — have been linked to neurological problems, obesity, diabetes, cancer, asthma — just to name a few.

Many people are trying all sorts of “detox” programs, diets, and cleanses. Did you know your body has the ability to detox on its own through urination, bowel movements, sweating and breathing? If the body is missing key nutrients, or if there is an overload of toxins, then it makes it more difficult to detoxify properly. Even though you may see a small weight loss, most detox programs usually deprive the body of very important nutrients.

These days, there are lifestyle modifications you can incorporate so you don’t become a “canary in the coal mine.”

Consider these healthy ways to detox:

  1. Begin with cleaning up the diet. Decrease the amount of refined sugars (sweets and soda), refined flours (processed foods), artificial ingredients and preservatives in your diet. Include more of the antioxidants (plant foods such as vegetables and fruit), which help to reduce the damaging effects of toxins. Foods high in antioxidants are: berries, nuts, seeds, leafy green and orange vegetables.
  2. Eat foods rich in B vitamins. Without enough B vitamins, the liver’s ability to detox may be compromised. Good food sources are vegetables and fruits, whole grains, beans and fortified nutritional yeast.
  3. Make sure to get adequate fiber. It enhances elimination of toxins. Aim to get 25 to 30 grams of fiber per day.
  4. Avoid heating/storing food in plastic. BPA (Bisphenol A), which is found in plastic and food linings, can leak into food when reheated and it has been linked to low vitamin D, obesity, diabetes and ADHD. Consider using glass containers to heat your food instead of plastic.
  5. Exercise. Regular sweating helps with the excretion of toxins.
  6. Choose organic when possible. This will help reduce pesticide exposure.
  7. Reduce exposure to cigarette smoke and polluted air.
  8. Reduce exposure to man-made chemicals found in cleaning and hygiene products as well as some air fresheners.

Elise M. Karnegis is a registered dietitian and a certified diabetes educator with Corporate Wellness at Baptist Health South Florida.

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