Categories: Nutrition and diet

Detox – You Think You Need It?

Detoxification or Detox is a metabolic process that helps the body remove toxins by changing them to less toxic or more readily excretable substances. There are many types of detoxification like alcohol detoxification, drug detoxification, metabolic detoxification, etc. This is a natural process carried away by our organs and the immune system without requiring any additional drinks or supplements. When this process doesn’t occur properly it might put our life at risk.

The functioning of the human body produces toxins due to the environmental pollutants found in the air, drinking water, and food items. The buildup of these harmful chemicals along with lifestyle choices such as the absence of physical activity, refining away much of the nutritive value of the food and replacing with fancy crash diets, excess of dietary supplements avoiding the natural foods, artificial flavourings, colourings, preservatives, etc. may hinder the way our body works and affect our health.

Metabolic detoxification involves enzymatic reactions that neutralize and solubilize these harmful chemicals and facilitate their excretion from the body mainly via urine, stool, or sweat. Hence the main function of the detoxification pathway is to transform lipid-soluble toxins into water-soluble molecules that are easily eliminated from the body. The phases of metabolic detoxification are performed by three sets of enzymes or proteins called the phase-1 enzymes (functionalization), phase-2  enzymes (conjugation), and phase-3 proteins (elimination). Proper nutritional support can promote the protection of the functions of the main organs involved in the detoxification process –

  • Liver: Filters out and transforms toxic substances in the blood that can be excreted in the urine or stool.
  • Kidneys: Provide a route for toxin excretion via the urine
  • Intestines: Support regular bowel movements, eliminate the buildup of unhealthy microorganisms and internal toxins, and provide a strong and intact barrier to prevent the leakage of toxic materials from the intestines into circulation.

A healthy eating plan along with plenty of fluids can help in maintaining the process of excretion from our body and aid in removing the toxic substances.

Tips:

  • Complex carbohydrates containing whole grains, pulses, legumes, etc.
  • Foods with healthy fats and proteins.
  • Fibre-containing foods –vegetables, green leafy vegetables, fresh fruits, etc.
  • Foods that help to improve/maintain immunity.
  • A pinch of fresh herbs and spices to your daily cooking – ginger, garlic, turmeric, pepper, etc.
  • Limited amounts of healthy nuts and oilseeds.
  • Drink purified water. Keep yourself well hydrated.
  • Maintain a healthy gut by avoiding excess spices, regular intake of outside food, and including probiotics in the diet.
  • Lean meat or fish (boiled/steamed) regularly, and avoid fried meat and red meat
  • Avoid excess fats, refined sugar, and foods high in additives and preservatives.

Conclusion:

Detoxification has to happen naturally from the body. Furthermore, no scientific studies have investigated the effectiveness of nutritionally balanced “detox” diets. Following a healthy balanced diet in our daily routine can help the body in doing this process naturally and effectively.

Point to be noted:

Don’t overdo the process. Let the expert decide what is right for you. Due to any specific reason, if you are made to follow any such detox process through any supplements, it has to be according to the expert’s prescription.

Ms. Nishitha Krishnan T | Clinical Nutrition & Dietetics | Narayana Medical Centre, Langford Town, Bangalore

Narayana Health

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