A detox diet can mean many things in popular culture, however most of these ideas and plans do not have sound scientific backing. Think about all of those magical pills or odd plans that you hear of – if they throw up a red flag, that is probably for good reason.

There is one kind of detox that has been proven to be beneficial for health, and that is a detox where you remove processed food, added sugars, meat, and dairy from the diet, and replace these foods with whole, plant foods, particularly fruits and veggies.

While all fruits and vegetables offer some form of benefit for our health, there are certain plant foods that have been shown to specifically encourage the removal of toxins from the body.

These include berries, multiple kinds of tea, with chamomile, dandelion root, and green tea being my favorites, lemons, many herbs, including turmeric and rosemary, cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, red cabbage, and brussel sprouts, soy, ginger, garlic, and grapefruit.

So how do these plant foods provide specific detoxifying benefits? They do so by boosting our natural metabolic pathways of detoxification, which is how our bodies are designed to remove toxins and keep us healthy.

How well these pathways function is based off of many factors, with what we eat and the nutrients we consume being two of the biggest.

When you detox and boost these pathways, you are essentially improving how well your organs, brain, and whole body function.

The benefits you are likely to experience from a week-long whole foods, plant based detox diet are vast. They include fat loss, reduction of chronic inflammation, increased energy, reduced mental fatigue, reduced aches and pains, relief of some allergy symptoms, and improved digestive health.

While these end results are amazing and well worth the effort, the first few days can be rough. You may experience detox symptoms such as headache, food cravings, fatigue, and irritability. Not everyone experiences all of these symptoms, and they are usually limited to days 2 and 3.

So why, when you are adding in all of these amazing foods, are you likely to feel worse before you feel better?

The main reason for these symptoms are withdrawals from addictive foods, including sugar, caffeine, alcohol, cheese, and processed foods. Yes, even cheese! The reason that many of us have such a dependency on cheese is because it contains casein, which triggers the same receptors as opiates do in the brain.

The more natural, plant-based foods that you consume prior to the detox and the fewer processed, animal foods, the less severe these detox symptoms will be.

No matter what you eat beforehand, the few days of detox symptoms are definitely worth the way you will look and feel come the end of the 7 days!

Following a vegan detox week, you have the option of continuing to eat a balanced, healthy diet, where you can continue to boost your body’s detoxification day in and day out.

It is helpful to do a fully healthy, week long plant-based detox once every 3-6 months to keep your body functioning well and to keep your weight under control.  

References:

1. Modulation of Metabolic Detoxification Pathways Using Foods and Food-Derived Components: A Scientific Review with Clinical Application: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4488002/

2. The Truth About Detox Diets: http://www.webmd.com/diet/a-z/detox-diets

3. The Role of Herbs and Spices in Cancer Prevention: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2771684/

4. Detoxification in Naturopathic Medicine: A Survey: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3239317/

5. WebMD: What the Liver Does: http://www.webmd.com/hepatitis/tc/what-the-liver-does-topic-overview

6. Health: Liver Cleansing Overview: Liver Cleaning Benefits: http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/natural-medicine/alternative/liver-cleansing2.htm

7. Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and hepatoprotective effects of silymarin on hepatic dysfunction induced by sodium nitrite: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24225033