Technically, there is no such thing as ‘flushing the body’. Our bodies are constantly undergoing the process of detoxication via the liver and kidneys all the time, in just the same way our heart beats without us having to think about it.
In a word, no. Instead of thinking about ‘cleansing the body’, we should be thinking about removing the foods that are a burden on our liver (processed foods, alcohol, caffeine) and including foods that help upregulate our body’s natural detoxification pathways.
Typically, the type of cleanses and detox programs that we see on social media or that are commercially available (juice cleanses, teas, etc.) are at best ineffective and at worst harmful for the body. Detoxification takes place in 2 phases – the removal of the toxin from the cell, and then the conversion of the toxin to a water-soluble compound for excretions from the body. If you are not providing your body with the necessary co-factors (amino acids from protein, vitamins and minerals) then this process will not happen efficiently, and you may even end up feeling worse than you did originally!
If you detox is based on the scientific principles of detoxification (not social media trends) then you should feel great whilst upregulating detoxification, with more energy, better skin, increased mental clarity and improved sleep! In this case you can go about your normal life, exercise regime, etc. If you feel tired, low energy or have headaches then you are probably following a program that doesn’t balance the 2 phases of detoxification properly, and should stop following it.
Again, we need to think about what foods upregulate the Phase 1 and Phase 2 detoxification pathways, as the liver and kidneys are where this biological process rather than we ‘detox’ these organs.
Nutrients need for efficient Phase 1 detoxification include B vitamins (found in foods such as wild-caught salmon, seafood, leafy greens, and liver) and amino acids (which are the building blocks of protein), so a protein rich diet is important too.
There are 6 different pathways through which Phase 2 detoxification can take place, so different nutrients are needed for each of these pathways. Again, amino acids from protein are important, as are an abundance of fruits and vegetables. Specifically, cruciferous foods such as broccoli, cauliflower and Brussel sprouts provide important compounds for these pathways to work efficiently as do sulfur rich foods such as garlic, onions, and eggs.
The lymphatic system moves toxins and waste products out of the body for excretion, via lymph fluid, so staying hydrated is especially important for this. Also, our lymphatic system is not ‘pushed’ around the body in the same way as our blood is via the circulatory system, so exercise and movement is essential for a healthy lymphatic system. Massage and dry body brushing can also be helpful for this too.
No foods will ‘flush out sugar’, but if you have been consuming a lot of sugar then balancing your blood glucose levels with foods rich in protein, fiber and healthy fats will be helpful.
Candida is a yeast that naturally occurs in many parts of our body, but it is when we have a candida overgrowth that it can start to cause problems for our health. This can be caused by a diet high in sugar and refined carbohydrates, so removing these from the diet is helpful. Some herbs and plant compounds can be helpful in a candida overgrowth such as oil of oregano, pau d’arco tea, garlic capsules and caprylic acid. However, it is important you talk to a healthcare practitioner before taking these.
A diet high in protein, fresh produce and healthy fats with minimal processed foods is ideal for every health goal, including detoxification. In my Clean Eating Made Simple Program we focus on reducing processed foods and foods that are hard for the liver to process, and ensure an abundance of amino acids from protein and vitamins, mineral, polyphenols and antioxidants from fresh produce and nutrient dense foods.
Foods that people might not include in their everyday diet such as shellfish and liver are wonderful for boosting detoxification, as are cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli and kale (these are especially beneficial for healthy estrogen detoxification).
Fibre and probiotic rich foods are also great for detoxification as you cannot detoxify efficiently if you have poor gut health (in fact I recommend healing the gut before undertaking any kind of detox program). Consuming all these foods in a way that the body can digest and absorb them is important, so this may mean lightly steaming or cooking as sometimes raw foods are difficult to digest.