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Can a Plant-Based Diet be Used to Detox?
The New Year brings with it an opportunity to think about ways in which to improve our lives. Eating healthier and losing those unwanted pounds is the most common New Year's resolution. In an attempt to start fresh, and "cleanse" the body, many turn to different methods of "detoxing." Each method promises successful weight loss and excellent health. But are these "detoxing" claims really true?
Detoxing methods typically include juicing fresh fruits and vegetables and/or using herbal pills, powders or laxatives to cleanse our cells, liver, bowel or gallbladder. These "miracle" cleansers and detox diets aren't supported by doctors like myself that utilize plant-based nutrition as medicine. Frankly, these "miracle cleansers" don't work or support optimal health. Without a doubt, many of the concoctions that claim to magically pull toxins from the body can be harmful. One such detox method involves drinking a laxative solution that supposedly cleans out years of hardened food and fecal matter that's stuck to the lining of the colon. Doctors who have performed thousands of sigmoidoscopies and colonoscopies affirm that this is simply not true. Dr. Michael Klaper's DVDs Sense and Nonsense in Nutrition and Digestion Made Easy explains how these products (and their false claims) are to be avoided.
The best way to "detox" is to avoid eating the toxic substance in the first place. This would include avoiding meat, dairy and egg products (toxins concentrate in animal fat and are intensified when cooked), refined and processed foods, fast/junk food, alcohol/tobacco/narcotics and other stimulants such as caffeine, synthetic vitamins (even natural ones, when taken in excess), refined sugars and sweetened drinks like colas, refined oils, and pharmaceutical and over-the-counter drugs. Limiting our exposure to pesticides and herbicides is also encouraged. These foods and substances promote cellular damage, inflammation, free radical damage, oxidative stress and advanced glycation end products which increases cellular toxicity. In addition to avoiding toxins, we should consume a wide variety of colorful whole plant foods on a daily basis. These foods promote excellent health by preventing inflammation, free radical damage, oxidative stress, and advanced glycation end products. And -- because they are "low on the food chain" -- they simply aren't toxic.
Remember, excellent health doesn't come in the form of a pill, powder or laxative! True internal cleansing and keeping the body functioning optimally is an ongoing process and comes from eating a diet rich in whole, natural plant foods. Routine "cleansing" is not necessary because every plant-based meal you eat provides the body with powerful phytochemicals and antioxidants that support a strong, disease-fighting immune system.
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