When the holiday season partying comes to an end, are you left with the dullness that follows overindulgence? Then this would be a good time to incorporate a detox into your diet.

Detoxification is naturally carried out by the body but when you overindulge in food that’s low in nutrients and high on refined carbs, fats and other dietary villains, a whole range of symptoms can manifest, from headaches and fatigue to muscle pain, poor concentration and sluggish metabolism.

Detox diets specifically aim to cleanse and revitalise the body. Some well-known ones:

Liver cleansing diet

This program emphasizes fresh, unprocessed foods over those with preservatives and additives. Have oranges instead of packaged orange juice or strawberries over strawberry-flavoured cerealFibre from whole grains, ground flax or psyllium seeds work in sweeping out toxins dumped by the liver in the gut.

Get protein from fish, beans and nuts. Broil or stew small portions of meat. No grills or fries!

Avoid refined carbs such as pasta, cakes, refined flour, carbonated drinks, deep-fried food, fast food, processed meats and mercury-loaded seafood like shellfish or crab.

Dark green leafy vegetables, broccoli, beets, cabbage and cauliflower, fruits (papaya, lemon, mango) and herbs (ginger, garlic, parsley, cilantro) are must-haves in this diet.
7-day food cleanse

Essentially, the 7-day food cleanse diet focuses only on certain food types. Some people consume only freshly squeezed fruit or vegetable juices. Others eat raw foods for a week, avoiding processed foods and meats.

Typically, this diet avoids meats, seafood, dairy products, simple carbs and processed foods. If cooked food is a must, brown rice is recommended.

Don’t starve yourself; simply eat the same kind of food whenever you feel hungry. Importantly, return to a normal routine by gradually introducing cooked foods.

Food combining diet

The theory behind this diet is that certain food group combinations lead to optimum digestion. Groups that combine well are proteins and vegetables or starches and vegetables but not proteins and starches. Carbohydrates and acid food combos such as bread or rice and oranges or tomatoes don’t work since fruit acids cause fermentation and interfere with carbohydrate digestion.

Risks and precautions

Detox diets should be carefully planned as they do come with risks:
Laxative/diuretic foods and low caloric intake (below 1200-1400 calories) can affect hormone production.Nutrient deficiencies can arise from completely eliminating some foods (e.g. calcium from milk). Mineral deficiencies in the diet can lead to headaches, nausea and tiredness. ‘Good’ bacteria in the gut can get flushed out resulting in gastro-intestinal troubles.

If you suffer from conditions like diabetes, kidney and liver problems or heart disease to name just a few, detox is not for you. So, before jumping on the detox bandwagon, consult your physician and make a wise choice.

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