Detox Yourself to Better Health

Want to have more energy, lose weight, feel less bloated and even reduce joint pain? Think about a detox

“The great thing about a fall detox is you’re so in harmony with nature,” says Julie Daniluk, a registered nutritionist, health educator and best-selling author. “The food this time of year is so beautiful, inexpensive and plentiful – and so local, which means it’s not as hard to do a cleanse. Our body temperatures are also more in sync with the outdoors. You’re not dealing with the extreme dehydrating heat of summer or the frigid cold of winter.”

Julie says an ideal detox lasts about 21 days, but 10 days will do and even a short weekend cleanse can make a difference in how you feel. (She posts a free three-day smoothie detox on her website.)

“A detox this time of year really resets your palette,” she says. “It’s an opportunity to clear the decks before the short, dark days kick in.”

That means you’ll be better equipped to stay on a healthy course during the winter months when chocolate and carb cravings “can go through the roof” and add unwanted pounds.

But let’s be clear, a detox is not about starving or drinking only liquids, Julie emphasizes. It’s about changing what you eat, adding more of some things and avoiding others.

NEXT: FOODS TO AVOID

food-3Here are Julie’s basics for a fall cleanse:

What to avoid:

Try eliminating all artificial foods – or what Julie calls “anti-nutrients.” Basically, she means all junk food, including anything with artificial colours, sweeteners or flavourings, like chips and soft drinks. She also advises avoiding white sugar, white flour, corn products, sugar-laden condiments, heavy milks and cheeses.

And alcohol. (Sorry, but you’ll have to forgo wine at dinner for a while.)

She also advocates staying away from refined flours and wheat in general during a cleanse and suggests replacing them with non-gluten grains like quinoa. People who do this, she says, report feeling healthier and much less bloated.

And while a fall detox doesn’t mean going vegetarian, Julie does recommend avoiding nitrate-laden luncheon meats, and fatty meats in general.

NEXT: WHAT TO EAT

food-1What to add:

Seven to 10 fresh vegetables a day: Aim for seven a day, but 10 is even better. Fall vegetables, says Julie, will help to clear out the toxicity in your body caused by environmental chemicals in everything from some hair and skin care products, to home cleansers, even the gas we put in our cars. “Fall produce also has serious anti-cancer properties that help to regulate our hormone levels and generally reduce our toxic load.”

Slow-burning, low-carb veggies, like sweet potatoes, yams, beets and other root vegetables are great, as are dark leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, kale, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, turnip and cabbage. They contain something called Indole-3-Carbinal, which Julie describes as a detoxifier that helps remove excess estrogen from the body (which is good for both men and women) and is “brilliant for hormonal balance.”

Be sure to include lots of orange vegetables too, like carrots, squash, and pumpkin “which pack a lot of nutrition in every bite.” They also contain high levels of potassium that helps balance sodium levels, which in turn balances blood pressure and boosts your energy. They also soothe and help heal the digestive system.

During the cleanse, add lots of protein to your diet in the form of lean meats, healthy fish, eggs and beans. “Proteins run the detox process in your liver,” says Julie, and if avoided force your body to burn its own muscle mass to activate the detox process.

Lots of fruit is also essential. Even though it’s getting a little late for some local fruit, there are plenty of apples available and sometimes pears and plums to be found – which are great for preserving. Apples, in particular, says Julie, are incredibly detoxifying, especially organic apples. She personally loves the Ambrosia variety, known for not browning when cut, plus they’re Canadian. “The pectin in apples and pears helps to flush the gallbladder and cleanse the liver,” she says. So there’s something to that old saying, ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away.’

“Even with a three-day mini cleanse you’ll feel better,” says Julie. “And you may just be inspired to do it for a longer time.”