From juice fasts to colon-cleanse formulas, options abound for those looking to start spring with a clean slate and improve overall health. Deborah Straub, a nutritionist at Canyon Ranch in Tucson, who emphasizes integrative medicine, encourages another alternative: “clean eating.” Aiming for 8 to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day could help protect against chronic diseases related to impaired detoxification, including cancer, Parkinson’s disease, chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. But, Straub adds, “it’s important that the food you choose is ‘clean.’”
She advises seeking out minimally processed foods free of additives, artificial ingredients, high-fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated fats, pesticides, antibiotics, hormone residues and genetically modified organisms. “Choose organic foods whenever possible,” Straub says. “Organic is especially important for high-fat dairy products because pesticides accumulate in the fat.”
Steer clear of meat that contains additives or preservatives, she suggests, and opt for grass-fed over grain-fed. “Avoid meat from animals treated with antibiotics or hormones,” she cautions. Seafood that tends to be high in mercury or PCBs (shark, swordfish, tilefish, king mackerel, bluefin tun, Chilean sea bass and orange roughy) is also best avoided. And drink plenty of clean, filtered water.
Choosing foods rich in bioactive components that maximize the body’s detoxification systems is the second part of this clean-eating regimen. Eat garlic, onions, crucifers (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale and the like), whole grains, turmeric, berries, green tea, legumes, nuts, seeds, soy, red grapes, kefir and yogurt containing live cultures “to minimize toxic exposure and maximize your natural detoxification abilities,” Straub recommends.