Regular internal cleansing is essential for optimal health, and just as important is choosing the right foods to eat while you cleanse. During any type of cleanse your goal is to eliminate unwanted toxins and organisms while helping the body maintain a healthy balance of nutrients—so your cleansing diet should provide support for your organs of elimination (the liver, lungs, lymphatic system, kidneys, skin, blood and bowel) as well as overall nourishment for your body. The following is a list of dietary recommendations to help you get the most out of your cleansing program.
Foods to Emphasize while Cleansing
- Live Foods: Live foods support the body by providing necessary enzymes and nutrients that are missing from boxed and pre-packaged foods. Good choices include raw, organic fruits and vegetables (veggies may also be lightly steamed), as well as fermented foods that contain beneficial probiotic cultures such as plain yogurt, kefir (a fermented milk beverage), miso and/or tempeh.
- Lean Proteins: Opt for lean protein sources such as organic, natural or free-range chicken, turkey, beef, fish, tofu and eggs.
- Essential Fatty Acids: EFAs such as beneficial Omega-3s and some Omega-6 fats are considered “essential” because the body cannot produce them on its own, so they must be obtained from the diet. These oils are soothing and lubricating to the digestive system, and they also promote a healthy inflammatory response in the body. Oily fish as well as certain nuts and seeds can provide EFAs. If you are concerned about mercury in fish, dietary Omega oil supplements can be helpful. Just be sure they are molecularly distilled and tested for contaminants.
- Well-cooked Grains: Grain sources such as millet, buckwheat, khorasan wheat, amaranth, quinoa, spelt, teff, rye, basmati rice, wild rice and brown rice provide an excellent source of fiber while cleansing. Fiber is necessary because it helps to absorb and eliminate toxins from the body via regular, healthy bowel movements. ReNew Life recommends consuming at least 35 grams of fiber daily through diet and natural fiber supplements.
- Water, Water, Water: Drinking plenty of purified water is essential during cleansing, as it helps to flush unwanted toxins and waste from the body. A good rule of thumb is to drink at least half your body weight in ounces of purified water every day.
Helpful Dietary Guidelines
- Curb Sugar Intake: While cleansing (especially during a microbial cleanse) try to limit your consumption of sugar, because sugar is a favorite food of yeasts and other opportunistic organisms that can thrive in the intestinal tract and jeopardize your health. This includes table sugar as well as hidden refined sugars (such as high-fructose corn syrup) found in many processed foods, condiments and beverages. Certain starches may also feed unhealthy microbes in the gut, so try to limit your consumption of high-starch veggies such as potatoes and corn.
- Food Combining: To enhance digestion while cleansing, it helps to practice smart food combining. Try not to mix proteins and carbohydrates/starches in the same meal. Instead, eat proteins with vegetables. Likewise, eat carbs and starches (pasta, grains, bread etc.) with vegetables.
- Avoid ‘Sensitive’ Foods: Cleansing provides an excellent opportunity for us to take an active role in designing a healthy way to nourish our bodies. Most people are aware of which foods cause sensitivity or discomfort after eating them—sometimes immediately, though others may cause a delayed reaction—so it may be best to avoid these foods during cleansing as well as on an ongoing basis. Common irritants include dairy, corn, soy and certain types of wheat. Greasy, fried foods should also be avoided, as they may cause heartburn and digestive upset.
Next in our 3-part Cleansing Diets Blog Series: Recommended Foods from Breakfast to Dinner.