Digestive Support for Detoxification
Spring is an ideal time for detoxification. This is the season of new growth, a time to refresh our system by cleaning out toxins accumulated during the winter months and to recharge our bodies. Just as we are emerging from the shorter, colder days of winter, so too, our bodies are often feeling more energized and we are more active as the days get longer and the weather becomes more temperate.
For many a detox is seen as a means to not only cleanse the body, but also to lose weight and reduce bloating and inflammation. It is, however, important to remember that this is also a time to nourish our bodies and to support our system. Many people, when thinking about detoxification, think either only about the liver, or about the elimination process. And while these are extremely important, they are only one part of the detoxification process. In order to create a successful detox it is necessary to make sure that the entire system is supported. This means looking at our intestinal ecosystem, in other words, our gut and providing the necessary support for good bacterial balance. Sometimes referred to as our “second brain” the gut is the root of health, both physical and emotional. In fact there is a new, emerging field of study called neurogastroenterology which focuses on the workings of this “second brain” and it's impact on both the body and mind.
The following tips will help you have a successful detox:
- Eliminate highly processed foods such as sugar, alcohol, and caffeine.
- Eliminate foods which are most likely to cause food sensitivities. These include dairy products, glutenous grains (wheat, barley, rye, and spelt), non-gluten free oats, eggs, corn, and soy. If you suspect a sensitivity to fish or nuts avoid those as well.
- Eat whole foods; don't rely on liquid-only fasting or highly processed foods. Eating whole foods, especially those that are high in fiber will provide the best benefit. To avoid possible pesticide contamination be sure to choose organic for the Dirty Dozen (apples, celery, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, grapes, nectarines, peaches, potatoes, snap peas, spinach, strawberries, sweet bell peppers).
- Enjoy leafy greens which are rich in chlorophyll and B vitamins. Choose spinach, collard greens, kale, dandelion greens, mustard greens, swiss chard, and other dark leafy greens.
- In addition to food-based support include digestive enzymes as part of your protocol to ensure that you are getting maximum nutrition from the foods you are putting into your body.
- Also include a good quality, multi-strain, high colony forming unit (CFU) probiotic for beneficial bacterial balance in your gut. Probiotics also have the ability to break down toxins in the body, further supporting the detoxification process.
- The addition of functional foods is another important component to a detox as well as for overall health. Functional foods such as traditionally fermented kimchi, live kraut, kombucha (fermented tea), water kefir and beet kvass (two other fermented beverages) offer beneficial bacteria to further support the gut. See the delicious recipe for a Red Cabbage Kraut below.
Remember to also take time for the mental and spiritual side of your health. Taking time each day for meditation, prayer, journaling, quiet walks, or peaceful soaks in the tub can be a great way to clear the mental and emotional cobwebs. Detoxing the mind and body together provides overall body support and can help to facilitate a good detoxification experience.
If at any time on a detox you feel ill it is important to stop. A detox is meant to be supportive and energizing, at no time should it leave you feeling weak, tired, nauseous, or otherwise ill.
Red Cabbage Kraut
1 red cabbage, grated
2 tablespoons sea salt
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
Place the red cabbage and salt into a large bowl
Toss to mix well, cover, and let sit for 1 hour
Toss cabbage again and then begin pounding it using a potato masher or a kitchen mallet
Cabbage will begin to produce liquid
Mash until the mixture is very juicy
Start stuffing cabbage into a wide mouth quart canning jar, tamping it down as necessary
Make sure that cabbage is below the brine level, use a weight of some kind if necessary (pickling weights are available online)
If necessary make extra brine – 1 tablespoon of sea salt per 1/3 cup water
When all the cabbage is in the jar and is submerged below the liquid cover the jar with wax paper and place into a cool dark place for 3-5 days
Move jar to refrigerator for another 2-3 weeks; at this point the kraut should be tangy and flavorful
Serve 1-2 tablespoons with each meal for a delicious, healthy boost
Mira Dessy is A certified nutrition educator, The Ingredient Guru, and author of The Pantry Principle: how to read the label and understand what's really in your food. She can be found online at http://facebook.com/ThePantryPrinciple