Our bodies become toxic for many reasons. Conventionally grown produce (pesticides), packaged and processed foods (preservatives), cosmetics, personal hygiene and household cleaning products (industrial chemicals) are good examples of our daily exposure to a whole host of toxins. We eat, drink, breathe in and absorb toxins through our skin all the time – in our modern society, it is virtually impossible to avoid environmental toxins.
Exposure to environmental toxins has been linked to an overproduction of unchecked free radicals which, in turn, is implicated in premature ageing, weight gain and obesity, and various degenerative diseases like cancer, diabetes, arthritis and heart disease.
Research indicates that one of the best defenses against free radical damage are antioxidants. Antioxidants are nutrients that are found in various plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grains. Certain foods (such as cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage) are rich in phytochemicals that are thought to be especially beneficial to fighting free radicals.
In recent years, the idea of “cleansing” or “detoxing” has been been popularized by commercially created formulas, diets or programs – mostly in connection with weight loss. Many people have the idea that they need to periodically cleanse or detox and resort to extreme measures that can be dangerous.
Although an “intensive” periodic detox, like Panchakarma which is done under the supervision of a qualified Ayurvedic practioner, can be very beneficial, it is important to realize that exposure to toxins and consequent overproduction of free radicals is an ongoing, daily event. Therefore, an effort to detox or cleanse should be a continual effort.
There are many natural ways in which to natural cleanse your body on a daily basis, as this infographic illustrates and explains:
- Refrain from smoking, drinking excessive alcohol and decaffeinated beverages and eating too much sugar.
- Exercise on a regular basis.
- Drink plenty of clean water throughout the day and warm lemon water first thing in the morning. To determine how much water you need to drink, see this water chart.
- Manage stress levels through meditation, journaling or discussing your problems with a friend, family member or within a trusted support group.
- Eat foods rich in dietary fiber like kale, broccoli, almonds, beans and legumes, berries, apples, chiaand flaxseed.
- Avoid acid-forming foods like dairy, beef, pork, shellfish, peanuts, sodas and white or wine vinegar.
- Take extra care of your liver by regularly consuming certain herbs, spices and foods like milk thistle, ginger, garlic, lemon, chorella, turmeric and dandelion root.
The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet is the result of two studies developed by the US National Institutes of Health. It focuses on the lowering one’s cholesterol and blood pressure without the use of medication by lowering the amount of sodium that one takes in. High consumption of sodium has been known to cause hypertension or high blood pressure, which is a major contributing factor in strokes, aneurysms and other heart diseases. This diet has also been proved to prevent the occurrence of kidney stones, some types of cancer and diabetes.
The diet primarily revolves around food that is low in salt, cholesterol and saturated fat. It accentuates the consumption of fruits, vegetables and low-fat or fat-free dairy products. Adding more fruits and vegetables to one’s diet has also proved to lower bad cholesterol which reduces the risk of heart diseases. While whole grains, poultry, and seafood are still to be consumed, red meat and sugars are to be limited.
Image source: http://www.drkessinger.com/Newsletters/DASH.jpg
DASH is a balanced diet that requires no special types of food or medication. The pyramid above shows the ideal distribution of food in this diet; however it is very flexible and can be adjusted to each individual’s needs.
Here are some websites which offer recipes while on the DASH diet:
It is best to follow a DASH eating or meal plan while at the same time, consciously keep one’s sodium intake below 2300 mg. The DASH diet is meant to be a permanent lifestyle change and not a quick weight loss fix.
As we grow older, the risk of suffering from hypertension grows higher. This diet could be the first step in early prevention or a way for one to maintain a good blood pressure. At first it may be difficult to apply the necessary changes but slowly transitioning into the diet (yes even just one step at a time!) could bring you closer to a healthier lifestyle.
For more information visit: http://dashdiet.org/
So what do you think? Is DASH the diet for you?
Contributor/Writer: Kristianne Untal