What you eat every day matters. Habits add up—and the bad ones take their toll. So if you want a quick way to ramp up your energy, de-stress your mind, and lighten the toxic load on your body, trying a gentle, food-based detox can make a big difference in how you look and feel. We’re not talking extreme dieting here, either. Consider it another powerful tool in your arsenal for reducing stress on your body.
“Think of implementing a detoxing diet as one of the most critical ways to de-stress your body and mind,” says Adam Perlman, M.D., integrative medicine expert and Chief Medical Officer of meQuilibrium. “I not only recommend this approach to my patients—I do it myself, regularly. It’s amazing how different you can feel when you change a few key habits.”
The basic premise of a detox diet is this: By removing irritants, allergens, preservatives, added sugars, and other problem foods, you can help restore balance to and de-stress the digestive tract.
For naturopathic physican and nutrition expert Dr. Brooke Kalanick, detoxing your diet isn’t just healthier—it can change everything. “Food is one of the biggest influences on your life,” she says. “It drives your hormones, your brain chemicals, your metabolism, and affects your energy and your mood.”
What do you get?
“Digestion almost always dramatically improves, bloating goes down, and many people experience better energy, and some report clearer skin and better sleep, too,” says Kalanick. “What’s most empowering is learning that you don’t need the foods you previously thought you couldn’t live without.”
How Do You Know You Need It?
Doing a gentle detox every few months is a great way to clean up and clear out. Ask yourself the following:
- How do I feel when I wake up in the morning? Groggy? Logey? Exhausted?
- How do I feel at the end of the day? Depleted? Burned out?
- What kinds of foods have I been eating, and how do I feel after I eat them?
- What physical complaints keep surfacing (i.e., aching back, stiff neck, stomach trouble)?
Your Plan for a Gentle, Food-Based Detox Diet
This whole-foods approach to detoxing is designed to de-stress your body, support digestion, and keep you feeling lighter and sharper. Try it for at least a week. You may never go back.
Foods to avoid. Gluten, dairy, soy, caffeine, alcohol, added sugars, and factory farmed meat. It’s not that any one of these foods in moderation is inherently “bad” (though it depends on who you ask). Suffice it to say that for the purposes of detox, removing these common digestive irritants can be an eye-opening experience. “Taking out the junk, even for a week, can have remarkable effects,” says Kalanick. “For some, it’ll take six weeks or so for their systems to calm down.”
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