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A Gentle Detox Diet

10 tips for a fresh start and better health this year

Lacinato kale, asparagus, shallot and onions on cutting board

— Thomas Barwick/Getty Images

En español | For many, the New Year begins with resolutions related to wellness — eating healthier, exercising more and losing weight. If too many cookies and cocktails have left you feeling sluggish and irritable, kick off a wellness action plan with a detoxification of your everyday diet.

Medical evidence indicates that our digestive health is connected to an array of chronic health issues. Taking a break from processed foods, sugar, salt and caffeine can go a long way toward a healthier body and a happier you. Be mindful that a sensible, food-based detox diet is not designed to lose weight, but rather to rid your body of toxins and common food allergens. Although, by eating a natural diet, you will likely lose weight anyway. People with serious medical conditions should see a doctor before making any changes to their normal diet or taking supplements.

To gain the most benefit from a detox diet, try to stick to the guidelines below for at least two weeks, gradually adding back in moderation some of your regular foods at the end. :

  • Drink at least eight to 10 glasses of filtered water every day. The kidneys rid waste products from our bodies and water plays a key supporting role.

  • Eliminate white flour and white sugar.

  •  Eat real fruit, rather than drinking fruit juice, which is often high in sugar.

  • Unless you are a vegetarian, include small portions of lean animal proteins and fish. If possible, organic and pasture-raised meats and dairy products are recommended to avoid ingesting additional hormones or antibiotics.

  • Avoid stimulants, such as caffeine.

  •  No drugs or alcohol.

  • If you suspect you might have food sensitivities, try eliminating wheat/gluten, eggs, dairy, yeast, soy and corn products, and see if you feel noticeably better after a few weeks.

  • Take a daily multivitamin.

Beware of possible side effects, such as headaches, low energy and nausea caused by physical withdrawal from sugar and coffee. These symptoms will usually stop after a few days and indicate the cleansing is working.

And of course, as you would with any wellness program, include some exercise. Whether you like to walk, bike and swim or do yoga, work up a sweat. Breathe deeply, eat mindfully and relax every day. With a little patience and effort, the reward will be how much better you look and feel, and the motivation to continue a healthy eating plan every day.

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