Eating A “Clean Diet”
There are a lot of ways to define a clean diet, or “eating clean.” A cleansing diet, however, is slightly different than just simply eating clean, healthy food. The purpose of a cleansing diet, like the one described in this article, is to form the foundations of a clinical detoxification protocol. The diet promotes cleansing by minimizing exposure to environmental toxicants, maintain excretory pathways as open and well functioning as possible, and providing abundant detoxifying nutrients to the body. All three of these are necessary when trying to rid the body of an accumulation of toxins, toxicants, wastes, etc.
The general diet guidelines that are described in this post can be almost directly applied to a regular healthy diet as well. However, this specific cleansing diet is, in my opinion, quite a bit more restrictive in nature than what could constitute just a regular clean, healthy diet. So, this diet can be modified on an individual basis to help form the foundations of daily nutritional format for just about anybody – it’s all about the principles and the purpose!
The Basic Cleansing Diet
In general, this diet is pretty simple. Essentially we can break it down over 10 simple steps:
1. Eat organic whole foods:
- Eat organic as much as possible, or locally sourced produce from a farm that you know and trust with good practices. If completely organic is not possible, used the lists from the environmental working group (ewg.org) to help guide which ones to definitely get organic, and which ones to avoid. These lists are referred to as “the dirty dozen,” and the “clean 15.”
- Avoid canned, packaged, or prepared with coloring, additives, preservatives, etc.
2. The Fruits and Vegetables
- Keep your diet about 70% vegetables and fruits; of this breakdown, try to keep a 2-1 ratio of vegetables to fruits. Vegetables should be included at each meal, and you should get a variety of colors and types into your daily diet. Special emphasis on the Brassicaceae family vegetables. Eat the fruit ideally as snacks between meals.
- Do not juice or blend – you want the whole, organic, unprocessed food.
- Protein sources should be clean, easy to digest and assimilate, and should make up at least 15% of your daily caloric intake. Emphasis on vegan protein sources (beans, lentils, seeds, nuts, etc.), but grass-fed/humanely raised meats or wild caught small salmon, herring, or sardines for fish. If you are eating seafood, include seaweed in the meal. Meat sources should be grass-fed or free range, leaner, and definitely hormone- and antibiotic-free.
4. Complex carbohydrates
- The remainder of your diet comes from here – about 15%. This can include whole grains that are high in fiber. Consider brown rice, buckwheat, millet, quinoa, barley, and whole or rolled oats. Potatoes and yams will fit into this category as well – for this diet, we will not include them in the vegetables group. Again, eat the whole food, and not flours.
- The backbone of this cleansing diet. Fiber will help bind up excreted wastes like heavy metals, chemicals, fats, and hormones, among other things. It will also keep your bowel movements regular. Eat a lot, and get it from a variety of sources. Beans/legumes, apples, pears, and other fruit, crunchy vegetables, and whole grains. Each meal during this cleansing diet should include 2-3 different fiber sources.
6. Liver cleansing foods
- There are certain foods that are specific to the liver in their actions. They can help stimulate liver function and increase bile secretion, which is a key step in detoxification. Enjoy foods such as beets, carrots, ginger, burdock, dandelion roots, lemon and lime, artichoke, and chlorophyll.
- Avoid frying or deep frying oils, minimize animal fats, and cook with coconut oil. Use extra virgin olive oil in salad dressings, and a well-sourced ghee can also be used to cooking.
- Drink it. A lot of it. And make sure it’s carbon filtered at the very least. You should be taking in 2-3 liters a day, plus any extra needed for losses from sweating and exercise.
9. Herbs and spices
- There are many different herbs and spices that are detoxifying, liver stimulating, and generally anti-inflammatory. Using spices like turmeric, rosemary, ginger, cinnamon, nettles, thyme, and coriander are wonderful additions to a cleansing diet. Garlic and onions are also great at promoting detoxification through the gut.
- Okay, this is probably where you’ll have the most difficulty. Avoid refined and concentrated sugars and sweets, flours, coffee/caffeine, alcohol, fried or deep-fried food, trans-fats, and in general any packaged or processed foods. In essence, the best description for this is to eat a whole foods diet.
Okay, Let’s Recap
These diet guidelines for a cleansing diet are essential when working through a clinical depuration program or protocol, but can also be used outside of a complete clinical detoxification treatment plan. It is relatively restrictive, however it can be modified to create a sustainable, long-term diet. This type of modification needs to take into account an individual’s dietary needs and goals, and pertinent health history. Of course, like any significant diet change, consulting an experienced physician, such as a Naturopathic doctor, is a definite must. Be sure to seek help where you need it!