What counts as a family meal? Whenever you and your family eat together — whether it's takeout food or a home-cooked meal with all the trimmings. Strive for nutritious food and a time when everyone can be there. This may mean eating dinner a little later to accommodate a teen who's at sports practice. It also can mean setting aside time on the weekends when it may be more convenient to gather as a group, such as for Sunday brunch.
While we can’t necessarily control the world around us or our exposure to all pollutants and chemicals, we can make strategic dietary changes that will help counter their effects by supporting the liver, reducing inflammation, healing the gut, balancing blood sugar, and lightening our overall toxic load. This, in broad terms, is what a detox diet should do.
"The term 'detox' has become a buzzword that is often misused by the media and consumers," says Jackie Armstrong, MPH, RDN, EP-C. Jackie is a Performance & Wellness Nutritionist at Stanford University and the founder of Well-Fueled.com. She says that detox diets are often misunderstood. "Our organs and tissues are constantly in a state of detoxification — getting rid of unwanted substances produced by the body or from our environment." She goes on to explain that research is lacking to support the effectiveness of most detox diets.
Nuts and seeds, particularly hemp, flax, and chia seeds, are rich in fiber and antioxidants, which help promote optimal digestion and move food through the body faster, which aids in toxin removal. Nuts are great, too; particularly walnuts, which are a great source of plant-based omega-3 fats, which reduce inflammation and may boost learning, memory, and overall brain function.
Side effects often experienced while on a detox diet include feeling tired, headaches, light-headedness and nausea. These symptoms are often usually caused by a lack of food as detox diets are often low in calories. This lack of food can lead to cravings for high sugar and high fat foods, which can knock you off your diet and do a lot of damage in a short space of time
If you have a well balanced diet and include all food groups as recommended in the food pyramid there is no need for detox diets.In reality, people often use them as a kick-start to a new healthy lifestyle, maybe as a new year's resolution. If you want to use a detox diet as a means to healthier you, then short-term use is fine, anything longer may lead to low levels of important nutrients in your body. Check out our food pyramid information sheet as well as the numerous fact sheets on improving the overall quality and balance of your diet in the factsheet section on our website.
But while our liver is always detoxifying our bloodstream, it’s not necessarily working optimally. The truth is, our bodies aren’t necessarily equipped to deal with the burden they’re now facing. Today, more than ever, we’re bombarded with countless toxins—from pollution to chemicals in skin care products to (perhaps most of all) sugar and preservatives in the foods we eat. These can throw blood sugar totally out of whack, deplete nutrient stores, cause a buildup of dangerous substances in the body like heavy metals, and lead to chronic inflammation—all of which can make us tired and sick. And we’ll continue to feel this way unless we make a shift.
Sometimes the "toxins" that are making it more difficult for our bodies to function optimally are foods that we’re intolerant or allergic to, but we don’t know it yet. Allergies are more obvious and often involve swelling and trouble breathing. But intolerances and their symptoms are subtler and can trigger an inflammatory response in the gut that leads to full-body inflammation and symptoms such as diarrhea, constipation, bloating, eczema, joint aches, and migraines.
Pesticides are toxins, "and I think there's good cause for worry about them," says Purdy. A new study in Food and Chemical Toxicology links pesticide-laced feed to tumors and early death in rats. Organic is ideal, but if that's not possible, pick produce with thick skins that peel off, because they're less likely to be contaminated. (Here's how to save money on organics.)
While things like cigarettes and alcohol could technically fit under our toxins category, most of us would probably agree that they’re not exactly in the same category as, say, household cleaners. These substances are meant to be consumed and alter your current state. Alcohol is a depressant and drugs exist as both depressants and stimulants. Caffeine is also a stimulant and can affect your mood, focus and more. Like many toxins, these substances tax your body’s natural detoxification systems and should be limited or avoided. (Skip the cigarettes, but there’s nothing wrong with a glass of wine now and again or a cup of coffee.)