Detox and cleanse diets are all the rage these days, with every celebrity and her sister espousing their favorite regimen and practitioner. With names like “Master” and “Supercharged” and “Clean,” they evoke the heights of wellness, and choosing among them can be confusing
But what if you’re not quite ready for a lengthy fast and a seriously regimented diet? What if you’re just looking to bolster and improve your body’s functions, and you’d like to employ a few of the basic concepts of these popular programs to enhance your well-being? Then try these helpful suggestions:
Many of the detox and cleanse diets involve liquids, either exclusively or in combination. The most important? Water, plain and simple. Drink it all day long, and lots of it. It will help your body’s natural detoxification systems—liver, kidneys, and skin—to function more efficiently and carry out their cleansing tasks. And you can enjoy it in the form of herbal teas, which are recommended in several cleansing diets, and get the benefits of the herbs as well as the water.
Most of the diets involve some sort of fiber, which is nature’s own scouring pad. Be sure to include whole grains, especially high-protein sources such as lentils and quinoa. Healthy carbs such as these are especially necessary for maintaining your body’s store of energy.
In terms of cleansing, fruits and veggies are particularly effective when consumed raw to retain all their natural fiber (yes, more fiber) and nutrients. The vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants can only do you good, and the natural sugars in the fruit will help reduce cravings for things you shouldn’t have. Salads and smoothies are an especially enjoyable way to get your daily doses.
Enjoy not only the “good” oils (such as olive oil), but also the foods that contain them, such as avocados, nuts, and wild-caught salmon. You’ll derive all sorts of benefits from the oils as well as from the protein and nutrients found in these foods.
Processed and packaged foods are out, of course—organic, fresh foods are optimal. No red meat, please; get your proteins from sustainable fish, pastured white-meat chicken, beans and lentils, and organic tofu. And keep the sugar to a bare minimum; for sweetening, use local honey—or better yet, eat a helping of naturally sweet fresh fruit.
Instead of plunging into a short-term and intense detox regimen, why not incorporate these related ideas into your daily diet for a long-term feeling of well-being and a healthy glow? (See recipe tips, right and on p. 51).
This versatile salad can be used as the base of everything from a light lunch to a refreshing smoothie.
1 1/2 cups organic strawberries, halved
1 1/2 cups watermelon, cut into one-inch chunks
2 Tbs. cherry balsamic vinegar
2 Tbs. organic extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbs. Meyer lemon juice
1 Tbs. shredded fresh mint leaves
Grind of fresh black pepper
Combine all ingredients in glass bowl, and gently toss to combine. Refrigerate for at least one hour.
per serving: 105 cal; 1g pro; 7g total fat (1g sat fat); 11g carb; 0mg chol; 5mg sod; 2g fiber; 9g sugars
+ Recipe tips
Serves 4 as a side dish
A bevy of naturally detoxifying greens forms the basis of this simple-yet-nutritious salad.
1 cup shredded black Tuscan kale
1 cup shredded baby spinach leaves
1/3 cup shredded Brussels sprouts
2/3 cup shredded baby bok choi leaves
1 green onion, thinly sliced
2 Tbs. Meyer lemon juice
2 Tbs. fresh-squeezed orange juice
2 Tbs. avocado oil
1 tsp. microplaned orange zest
1 tsp. green peppercorn mustard
Combine all shredded greens in large bowl. Whisk together remaining ingredients and drizzle over greens. Toss to moisten, and serve immediately.
per serving: 87 cal; 1g pro; 7g total fat (1g sat fat); 5g carb; 0mg chol; 59mg sod; 1g fiber; 1g sugars
+ Recipe tips
Did you know?
Strawberries are a source of ellagic acid, which has been shown to neutralize toxins from cigarette smoke and polluted air.
Did you know?
Research shows that cooking may destroy the carotenoids and vitamin C in spinach—try eating it raw or lightly cooked.
Neil Zevnik is a private chef in Los Angeles who is devoted to the idea that "healthy" doesn't have to mean "ho-hum." Visit him online at neilzevnik.com to learn more.