Dietary detox programs range from lemonade fasts to restricted menus. The programs claim to flush toxic substances from your body, restore optimum health and help you lose weight. A 21-day detox program that balances limited but healthy food choices and promotes new behaviors is one option that yields dramatic results, according to detox diet doctor Elson Haas of California. He offers just one program that sets simple guidelines for three weeks of cleansing purported to make you healthier and slimmer. Always consult a doctor before trying a detox program.
A detox diet restricts food intake and variety to help the body eliminate toxic build up from unhealthy eating and environmental pollutants. A program may include extra vitamins, daily nutritional supplements, regular moderate exercise and healing practices like massage and aromatherapy. Advocates believe that periodic detoxification is an essential preventive health practice. However, MayoClinic.com nutritionist Katherine Zeratsky cautions that detox diets are not scientifically proven and may even be unnecessary because your body eliminates toxins automatically.
A three-week detox program encourages your body to step up normal elimination to get rid of toxic build ups. You may notice within days that your skin becomes clearer, your bowel movements are more regular and your entire digestive process functions more efficiently. Sometime symptoms of discomfort or indigestion vanish completely. Haas says his concentration and mental clarity improve and his energy levels pick up. Following the diet for 21 days provides a chance to adjust to the new way of eating, see some results and lose a few pounds or jump start a weight loss program.
Types of Food to Eat
Foods you can eat on a typical three-week detox diet include lots of fresh fruits and vegetables--especially broccoli, artichokes, garlic, onions, beets, cauliflower and green vegetables. Brown rice and other grains like quinoa, buckwheat, millet and amaranth are permitted. Beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, and nut butters provide protein, but you have to skip the peanuts and peanut butter. Extra-virgin olive oil is allowed but butter is not. You drink herbal teas and decaffeinated green tea, water, lemon water, rice milk and freshly-made 100 percent natural fruit and vegetable juices.
Foods to Avoid
Foods that are not allowed start with sugar, including any and all versions of processed sugars like fructose syrup and all artificial sweeteners. Skip milk, eggs, butter, yogurt and other dairy. Eliminate wheat and all gluten-containing grains such as spelt, barley and rye. No yeast, alcohol, preservatives, food additives, coffee, chocolate or high-fat foods are permitted. Once the detox is over, you are encouraged to eliminate most or all of those forbidden foods from your regular diet.
Daily Menu Features
A day's detox diet menu might look like this. In the morning you have two glasses of water, one with the juice of half a lemon. For breakfast you get one piece of fresh fruit, followed by a bowl of cooked whole grains. Lunch and dinner consist of one or two medium-size bowls of steamed vegetables. Mid-morning and mid-afternoon you consume one glass of vegetable water from fresh-steamed vegetables with a small amount of sea salt or seaweed added for extra flavor. Evening fare consists of herbal teas.
Tips for Success
Advocates of detox diets recommend several practices to maximize detox benefits. Drink at least eight glasses of water a day, which helps in elimination and alleviates false hunger symptoms. Chew food well, especially grains. Refrain from drinking with meals. Dilute fruit juices by half with water. Drink only herbal tea after dinner. Take time before and after meals to relax, and sit in a comfortable position while you eat. Build meals around steamed fresh vegetables and fresh greens.