The temperatures are already starting to drop in some parts of the United States, and fall is right around the corner. That means your body is about to begin its yearly battle with the flu and cold viruses that thrive during the cool weather months.
And if you’re not prepared, the bugs will win.
One of the best ways to ready yourself for the fight is to get rid of all the toxins that have built up in your body while you were having a bit too much fun in the sun this summer. That way you can start your fall with a clean slate.
But don’t worry; I’m NOT going to recommend you starve yourself for days on end. And I’d never ask you to choke down massive quantities of foods you find hard to swallow.
Because when I hear about someone drinking only juice for a week straight… or watch a friend gulp down nearly inedible mixtures of lemon juice, syrup and kale they swear are “shakes”… I don’t just worry about their sanity, I fear for their health.
Many so-called “detox” plans can be dangerous, especially if you’re a senior or not in perfect health (and who is?).
Besides, after just one full day of fasting your body typically starts to make less of the enzyme proteins your liver needs to help metabolize toxins, and eliminate them from your system.
Purge toxins with an easy fall detox
But the good news is you can purge those toxins from your body without resorting to potentially unhealthy detox gimmicks. And the best place to begin is with a little diet do over.
Start by cutting back on processed foods. Sure, packaged foods are convenient. But you pay for that convenience with your health by swallowing hidden trans fats, high-fructose corn syrup sweeteners, artificial colors and preservatives with every bite.
And make the switch to organic foods. They’re a bit more pricey, but well worth the investment. Studies show eating organic foods can reduce your exposure to dangerous pesticides and antibiotic and hormone residues.
These simple diet changes will help you stop adding more toxins to your system. But to get rid of the ones that are already polluting your body it’s time to give your body’s natural detoxification system the tools it needs to get the job done.
7 steps to start the season with a clean slate
Give yourself a natural fall detox by following these seven easy steps.
1. Join the green team:
The metal aluminum is notoriously difficult to purge from the body. But a combination of chlorophyll-rich chlorella and cilantro could help you make a dent.
Cilantro, basically, binds to the aluminum. Then the chlorella helps speed it through your body’s natural detoxification systems.
You can add more cilantro to your meals. It’s terrific in salads, stir fries and fresh squeezed veggie juices. And cilantro adds the perfect final blast of fresh flavor to sides and main dishes.
Both cilantro and chlorella are available as supplements as well. And there are even a number of combo products with both.
2. Go nuts for selenium:
Selenium is an important mineral that can help protect you against mercury by binding and inactivating it. And we recommend folks get their selenium from food.
Brazil nuts are by far the best source of selenium: Just three or four nuts will net you more than the 200 micrograms you need daily. Other good sources include wild caught yellowfin tuna, halibut or sardines, grass-fed beef, egg yolks and turkey. The best plant-based source is spinach.
Eating plenty of these foods during your fall detox, and taking your multivitamin which likely contains 50 micrograms or so of selenium, should provide you with plenty of this critical mineral.
3. Turn away toxins with a crunch:
Crunchy, cruciferous vegetables pack a double detox punch. First, they help boost your liver’s detoxification enzymes. Second, they shore up your cells’ ability to fight off cancer-causing compounds.
And with the huge variety of cruciferous veggies available, you’re bound to find a few you like. Your choices include bok choy, cabbage, kale, radishes, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, kohlrabi, rutabaga, cauliflower, turnips and broccoli.
4. Grant yourself immunity:
Your gut is home to 70 percent of your immune system. And glutamine is a critical amino acid that helps keep your intestinal immune cells healthy. Researchers say low levels of glutamine are associated with impaired detoxification. So raising your levels can help you have a successful fall detox.
To make sure you’re getting enough glutamine, eat plenty of food sources of the amino acid including beef, chicken, fish, beans, eggs and spinach. As well as two excellent detoxifiers cabbage and beets.
And while you’re supporting your gut health, don’t forget to take a quality probiotic daily. Check labels to find a probiotic that contains a variety of good bugs, not just one strain. And it should have at least three billion CFUs. (Click here for more help with choosing a probiotic.)
5. Seek out sulfur:
Garlic contains large amounts of sulfur. Your body requires this hard-working element for detoxing your liver of unwanted chemicals.
Garlic isn’t just a delicious way to spice up your meals. This pungent veggie can also help you safely reduce bad gut bacteria and parasites. Making it the perfect choice for your fall detox.
But if your spouse or friends frown about the fragrant results of you eating garlic by the clove you can try a supplement instead. Other sulfur-containing foods include the cruciferous veggies I listed above along with arugula meat, fish, chicken, eggs, nuts, leeks and onions.
6. Love your liver with this duo:
A healthy liver is central to a successful detox. To support your own liver through your fall detox think milk thistle and alpha lipoic acid.
Milk thistle’s active ingredient, silymarin, has been traditionally used to reduce the toxic effects of a wide variety of liver enemies including excess alcohol and acetaminophen. It also reduces liver inflammation, which is useful in treating fatty liver disease (which now affects 1 in 10 Americans), and improves glucose metabolism.
Alpha lipoic acid, or the “universal antioxidant,” is a versatile nutrient that recycles other important antioxidants, including vitamin C, vitamin E and glutathione. The intravenous form has been used to treat acute live failure, and experts say it can also help with blood- sugar control. ALA is also a natural chelator, which means it can bind with harmful metals.
7. Make it a mini-fast
Evidence has been building that doing a mini-fast as often as once a week can be beneficial, lowering blood pressure, steadying blood sugar and giving your body time to clear away toxins. Plus, it’s a great way to kick off your fall detox.
For a 12-hour fast, you might wake up Saturday morning and just sip herbal tea and water until dinner. Take it easy during the day, doing some reading or other low-effort activity. And then have a light meal of chicken or fish, salad and a piece of fruit.
Or if a day fast doesn’t appeal to you try incorporating an overnight fast into your daily routine. Finish an early bird dinner by 7 PM and then don’t eat again until after 7 AM the next morning.
Don’t get suckered into trying an unpleasant, or even dangerous, fad detox. Try this simple fall detox to get your season started off on the right foot instead.