Written by Alyson Calla. Exclusive for theyogashala.org
The word ‘detox’ is often used as a synonym for weight loss diets, but what the health and wellness industry often get wrong about detoxification is that it is not the same as restrictive eating or going on juice fasts.
What ‘detoxification’ really means?
The basic definition of detoxification is to free the body of toxins, not of calories. Toxins, or free radicals, are harmful chemicals from the environment that enter the body through several ways, one of which is through the food we eat. Live Science explains that the presence of free radicals may result in the destruction and mutation of cells which is what happens with the growth of tumors. Researchers also believe that they are linked with a host of chronic illnesses including macular degeneration, cardiovascular disease, inflammatory diseases, and certain types of cancer.
Where does veganism come in?
The main sources of toxins in the standard diet are:
- Deep fried foods that are high in trans and saturated fats
- Dairy products
- Produce grown with pesticides
- Processed and canned foods
Healthline points out that processed meat and artificial trans fats cause inflammation. While inflammation is essential for healing, the prolonged state has been thought of by the medical community as the root of all disease. To reverse the damage caused by free radicals, eat plant-based foods that are high in anti-oxidants. Some examples are:
- Leafy greens such as kale and spinach
- Different types of berries
- Fruits such as watermelon, apricots, and oranges
- Lentils, beans, and grains
- Other vegetables including artichokes and bell peppers
As long as it is organic, a vegan diet abundant in antioxidant rich foods and other essential nutrients will help cleanse your body of unwanted substances.
Signs of toxicity
Frequent headaches, noise sensitivity, cognitive impairment, inflammation, and reduced immune function are some of the symptoms of toxin concentration in your body. If you’re someone who’s prone to breakouts, one of the known causes of acne is inflammation caused by a poor diet. For instance, Natalie Portman revealed that finally going vegan and cutting out eggs and dairy eliminated her problems with adult acne. Dairy in particularly is an inflammatory as it contains a lot of excess hormones which can trigger a reaction and in turn, pimples.
A few other symptoms are fatigue as well as chronic muscle and joint pain, which are also linked to inflammation. Argentine international soccer player Sergio Aguero suffered from muscle injuries which he attributed to a diet rich in meat, sugar, and pasta. After cutting out these inflammatory foods, the Argentine striker experienced significantly less injuries and improved his game. Similarly, if your back is constantly in pain or your joints are swollen, it might be time for a diet change.
The bottom line
A lot of the food we eat - even some plants when covered in pesticides - contain toxins. While the body’s immune system is capable of eliminating toxins naturally, too much of it can cause the immune response to slow down and become overpowered. This means that people who consume food that have high amounts of these harmful chemicals are more prone to disease.
In order to cleanse your body of harmful substances, a well-rounded vegan diet is the closest diet for detoxification. This is synonymous with what The Yoga Shala referred to as mindful eating in a previous article. You can still enjoy your foods, as long as you practice awareness of what you feed your body.