What is a cleansing diet?
Too many toxins are bad for the body. Learn how to cleanse your body of these toxins through diet.

In our fast-paced world it can be difficult to find the time to prepare healthy meals. Unfortunately, our bodies pay a heavy toll for eating unhealthy “convenient” foods. To compound the problem, our bodies are also bombarded with chemicals and pollutants on a daily basis in the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the places we work and live. Under this heavy barrage of toxins, the human body will eventually reach a point where it is no longer capable of flushing toxic elements on its own, and they will begin to accumulate. This accumulation of toxins leads to a state of poisoning commonly referred to as toxicity.

Common symptoms of toxicity include headaches, fatigue, increased allergy symptoms, overall aches and pains (particularly joint pain), and digestive upset. These symptoms occur when the body has become so bogged down by toxins that it can no longer perform necessary functions effectively. Toxins are generally acquired in one of two ways: either through things we ingest (such as foods, drinks, drugs, etc.) or through external sources (such as the air we breath, radiation, environmental chemicals, etc.). In order to rid the body of toxins, one must go through a detoxification program. The most commonly known way to clean out the system (or detox) is by fasting (eliminating solid food) for a set period of time. However, fasting is severe and can cause problems for people who are not accustomed to the practice. A much gentler way to help the body eliminate toxins is by adhering to a cleansing diet.

A cleansing diet works in two ways: first, it helps detox the body by halting the intake of toxins, and second, it further helps detox by flushing out the toxins currently in the body. Before starting a cleansing diet it is important to understand the effects of the food you are putting into your body. Many foods that are commonly thought to be part of a good balanced diet can actually have just the opposite effect. During a cleansing diet you want to avoid any allergenic foods, meat (particularly organ meat), dairy products (milk is very mucus forming), refined sugars and flours, hydrogenated fats, fried foods, eggs, and drugs. Many of the meat, dairy, and poultry products available in supermarkets are the products of animals that have been treated with hormones to help them grow and produce faster and have been given food that is treated with chemical pesticides. Those hormones and pesticides that have been ingested by livestock are then ingested by you when you eat. Other unhealthy sources of calories like fried foods, saturated fats, and refined sugars and flours place an extra digestive burden on a body that is already stressed by toxicity. The more processed a food item is, the less nutritional value it has and the harder the body has to work to utilize it. In a healthy system the introduction of a toxic or irritating substance is handled in one of three basic ways: the body is able to neutralize the toxin completely, transform it into something less toxic, or eliminate it completely from the body. When a state of toxicity has been reached, the body may be incapable of doing any of the above. So it's vitally important to try and eliminate as many known toxins as possible. A cleansing diet is based on the general idea that when all sources of incoming toxins are eliminated, the body will be able to start to eliminate stored toxins.

During a cleansing diet you will want to consume mainly whole grains, vegetables (preferably organic), fruits (again, preferably organic), pasta, rice, beans, and herbs. The more natural the diet is, the better. Consuming vegetables in a state as close to nature as possible is the healthiest for your body. When vegetables are cooked, they loose most of their nutritional value. Lightly steaming is a very good way to cook vegetables and still retain their nutritional value. It is also important to eat all organic foods if possible during a cleansing diet. Non-organic produce can contain extremely high levels of pesticides and chemicals. If you are unable to find organic produce, wash your fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating them. Be sure to consume a wide variety of fruits and vegetables to ensure that you are getting enough of each of the eight essential amino acids. Soy products are an excellent source of vegetarian complete protein.

The second aspect of a cleansing diet is helping your body eliminate its toxin stores. The easiest way to accomplish this is by drinking water. Water is excellent at flushing out toxins and restoring health. You should drink at least a gallon of water a day (drink more if you are able). You can also drink natural herbal teas, natural lemonade (made without refined sugar), and other 100% juices. It is important to eliminate sugar sodas, diet sodas, coffee, and teas that contain caffeine. Exercise is also an excellent way to help the body rid itself of toxins. When you sweat, toxins are excreted directly through your skin via your sweat glands. Sitting in a sauna for limited amounts of time can also have the same effect.

The length of time a cleansing diet is maintained is based on individual needs. A cleansing diet is unlike other traditional "diets" because it can be maintained indefinitely and become a life style choice. It can also be used periodically to help give your body a boost when you feel it is needed.

The benefits of detoxifying your body are both short and long term. Immediately after detoxifying you might notice increased mental awareness, more energy, more comfortable digestion of foods, and better absorption of nutrients, as well as an overall feeling of good health. Long-term benefits can include a reduced risk of cancer, reduced risk of environmental illnesses, and reduction of chronic illnesses.