I have friends who often tell me after a summer of careless eating, perhaps consuming too much alcohol, that they want to do a “cleanse” or a detox program. I often chuckle at the notion that many people think or our bodies needing a cellular scrub. Have any of you heard some of those commercials for products that allegedly remove deeply embedded waste or tar from your colon? When I had my first baseline colonoscopy, I actually asked my doctor if there was any truth to those advertisements. When he was done laughing, he confirmed what I thought – those statements were bogus.
In fact, what I have learned about the human body – is that we are an amazing machine – we do cleanse ourselves – cells die and are removed from our body natural, that fluids help to flush our pumps and filters (liver, kidneys, bladder, colon, etc.). As a matter of note – the lining of our gastro-intestinal tract, turns over very rapidly (in fact every few days). So, our bodies are doing their part to remove the old and rebuild healthy tissue.
The teas, supplements, other beverages, and even colonics are not without risk nor are they proven effective (or safe). So if you’d like to do something good for your body, here are some suggestions:
Eat more fruits and vegetables
You knew the registered dietitian in me would say this. Yet, vegetables and fruits are filled with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber and water. Vegetables do contain some amino acids – the building blocks of protein.
Drink more water
Give up the artificially sweetened beverages or soft drinks and simply consume more water.
Eat more fiber
Choose foods that are higher in fiber – whole grain cereals, breads and pastas… grains like quinoa. Breaking news: brown rice is not a good source of fiber… it truly is NOT much better, if at all, than white rice. Look around at all of our neighbors from Asia. Their cultures have existed for hundreds of years on white rice.
Yes, fried green beans are not the best way to get your kids or spouse to eat a green vegetable or potatoes for that matter. By the way, potatoes and corn – by definition – are vegetables.
Since we are approaching Yom Kippur this evening I’d like to touch on the notion of fasting. Muslims fast during the month of Ramadan, and Jews fast for Yom Kippur and on other occasions. From a religious point of view, fasting is about cleansing one’s soul, mind and turning inward to look at ourselves and focus on prayers. My brother recently asked me about the concept of “intermittent fasting” for sports nutrition.
Some people find that going on a fast for a day – gives them a chance to “cleanse” their body. As humans, we have evolved to survive times of feast and famines, to preserve our bodies by slowing down our metabolism (and holding onto precious fat stores) to ration energy to keep our organs functioning. If you’ve ever had a bad virus – you know, sometimes you just cannot eat for a day or so. However, I can assure you – that eating is essential.
It is optimal for health to eat small meals and snacks throughout the day. Remember, our bodies and the planet earth are around 70% water – so keep replenishing during the day! As the kids often giggle when I say this - if you are urinating (and your pee is plentiful and pale) regularly and having regular bowel movements - then your body is doing its job to remove waste!