If your body is not able to fully process and absorb nutrients from the food you eat, your detox may not be completely effective. Remember, the goal of a detox is to cleanse your body of toxins and to repair the damage done. In this chapter, we’ll look at the role probiotics and enzymes play in this process and discuss whether or not a more thorough internal cleanse might be right for you.
Probiotics are bacteria that help promote healthy digestion by encouraging a balance in the microflora of the intestines. Your digestive tract contains almost four hundred different kinds of bacteria that help protect you from harmful bacteria and aid in healthy digestion. The word “probiotic” may also be applied to dietary supplements containing live bacteria taken for the purpose of improving gut health and digestion. These products can be taken to reduce or prevent gas, diarrhea, and bloating. They may also help control the symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease. Because healthy digestion is such an important component of a detox, probiotics can be a great supplement to your detox diet. In addition, probiotics may help repair damage done to the intestinal tract by poor diet and inflammation or infections. If your body is not able to fully process and absorb nutrients from the food you eat, your detox may not be completely effective. Remember, the goal of a detox is to cleanse your body of toxins and to repair the damage done.
One option for increasing the healthful bacteria in your body is to take probiotic supplements. These often take the form of a daily pill or tablet that delivers the probiotics directly to your digestive system. Another option is to include some naturally probiotic foods into your diet. Some examples of probiotic foods include sauerkraut, kefir (generally considered a good dairy product), and pickles. Incorporating some of these foods into your detox diet will help you boost your body’s absorption of key nutrients while also enabling improved digestion and natural detoxification.
The Role of Enzymes
Enzymes are the molecules in the body that are responsible for catalyzing (increasing the chemical reaction rates) of bodily processes. These molecules initiate every action that takes place in or involving the human body. This includes simple actions such as blinking as well as complex processes such as food digestion. In addition, enzymes are instrumental in breaking down and removing dead and damaged cells and tissue. When the enzyme levels in your body drop too low, diseased cells and tissues will accumulate in the body rather than being shed.
The pancreas is an essential component of the digestive system in that it produces the enzymes needed to break down food and process nutrients. It is responsible for transporting pancreatic enzymes into the duodenum (the first section of the small intestine that is responsible for using the enzymes to break down food), helping to neutralize stomach acid entering your small intestine. There are three types of enzymes produced by the pancreas: lipase, protease, and amylase. A shortage of any of these can result in diarrhea, malabsorption of nutrients, or damage to the intestines due to toxic buildup.
Though your body does produce certain enzymes on its own, it is dependent upon your diet to provide the rest of the enzymes needed. If your diet doesn’t provide enough enzymes, not only will it affect your digestion, but it will also decrease your body’s natural detoxification. Eating raw foods such as fruits and vegetables is the best way to ensure you get enough enzymes in your diet. Cooking and processing food destroys many of the enzymes contained within it, so eat as many raw foods as you can.
Foods that are high in enzymes include:
- Bean sprouts
- Dried fruit
- Fresh carrot juice
- Fresh tomato juice
- Papaya and papaya seeds
- Raw almonds
- Salmon roe
- Sprouted seeds
Fasting for Detoxification
Incorporating probiotics and enzymes into your diet will definitely improve the efficacy of your detoxing, but there are still more ways to increase the benefits you receive. Not only is the type of food you eat important for detoxing, but the amount you eat and the frequency of your meals may also be significant. Fasting is a practice that people of
most cultures have practiced in one form or another for thousands of years. Recent medical evidence suggests that fasting may not only encourage weight loss, but also boost the results of a detox. A fast can be defined as the act of abstaining from food, liquid, or both for a defined period of time. A full fast, or absolute fast, is a period of abstinence from both food and liquid. One method of fasting that has recently become popular is intermittent fasting. This involves incorporating one or more nonconsecutive fasting days per week while engaging in normal eating habits on non-fast days. Though there is a great deal of debate regarding the efficacy of fasting for detoxification, a significant amount of scientific research suggests that fasting encourages the body to enter a state of ketosis, a biochemical process that occurs during fat burning. This is the most effective state for the body to be in for the removal of toxins. As you already know, when your body’s natural detoxification processes are inhibited, your body begins to store excess toxins in your fat cells. In a state of ketosis, the body begins to burn fat cells for energy, thus releasing stored toxins so they can be eliminated (Foster 1967).
It is important to understand the proper way to engage in fasting for detoxification. Abstaining from all food and liquid for an extended period of time can be extremely dangerous. The best way to engage in a fast to boost your body’s detoxification is to incorporate twenty-fourhour fasts on a weekly, bimonthly, or monthly basis. While engaging in a fast, it is essential that you provide your body with plenty of water along with some form of nutrition. Fresh fruit and vegetable juices are great options for fasts because they will provide your body with healthful nutrients while also boosting the effects of your detox. If you plan to engage in a fast lasting more than two to three days, consult your doctor first.