HEALTHTrust Your Gut – Should Firefighters Detox?

Trust Your Gut – Should Firefighters Detox?

The Human Gut Microbiota – Microorganisms that Live in the Human Gastrointestinal Tract – Conceptual Illustration

By: Maureen Stoecklein

“Popular detoxification programs such as juice cleanses, sugar detoxes, elimination diets, fasting and taking fiber supplements usually involve eating minimal food. But I recommend that you think twice before you try one.”

People often try a cleanse hoping for a fresh start, a renewed sense of control over eating, or quick weight loss. But before jumping on the bandwagon, you need to understand that very little research supports these practices. There is little to indicate that they effectively remove toxins, or provide any benefits at all. By contrast, a healthy, well-balanced, and performance-based plan that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and adequate hydration will promote gut health and support the body’s detoxification systems.

Detoxification is the process nature designed to utilize nutrients and remove toxins, both internal (lactic acid, urea, waste) and external (pesticides, chemicals in tobacco products or alcohol, air pollution) from the body. Our bodies are equipped with built-in detoxification methods that use the skin, gut, liver and kidneys to remove waste products naturally. Toxins are excreted through our urine, feces, respiration, and, thanks to sweat, skin. We all can detoxify our bodies by employing factors including diet, lifestyle, activity level, sleep hygiene, and our overall environment. 

The disadvantages of detoxes and cleanses:

• Muscle loss

• Lack of macronutrients needed for performance including protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats

• Inadequate calorie intake causes weakness, dizziness, fatigue and nausea

• Rebound overeating and increased craving

• Blood sugar fluctuations

• Deficient intake of gut-health promoting fiber

• Dehydration – short-term weight loss resulting from loss in water weight

• Lowered metabolic rate – the body becomes less efficient at utilizing calories for energy

You can do a natural detox every day:

•  Try to drink at least half your body weight in ounces of water daily

•  Cut back on processed, prepackaged and fast foods

•  Eat 8 to 10 different fruits and vegetables daily. Choose a variety of brightly-colored fruits such as oranges, berries, melons, cherries, apples and purple grapes. Be sure to include colorful veggies such as bell peppers, purple cabbage, spinach, carrots, tomatoes and green beans. Fruits and vegetables are prebiotic fibers that act as fertilizer to stimulate and feed the healthy bacteria or probiotics in the gut

•  Include at least 35 to 40 grams of fiber daily. Boosting your fiber intake by eating vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains and seeds will promote regularity

• Eat plenty of lean proteins: protein-rich foods contain glutathione, an important enzyme for detoxification in the gut

• Increase your intake of cruciferous vegetables: broccoli, garlic, brussels sprouts, onions and green leafy veggies all help support natural detoxification pathways

• Eat more fermented foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, kefir and kimchi as probiotic foods like these help promote a healthy gut

Although detox diets can result in initial weight loss thanks to inadequate calorie intake, they typically lead to weight gain down the road, once a normal eating pattern is resumed. About 20 percent of the calories consumed daily are used to fuel our brains. The food choices we make have a direct impact on our mood and, ultimately, our brain functions.

Read the expanded article HERE.

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