The beginning of a new year is when most of us start thinking about fresh starts, and push the re-set button on food and fitness. The idea of ridding the body of poisons via a “cleanse” that promises to burn fat or lose weight may be tempting. But think twice: Starving yourself by excluding solid food for a week and chugging some low-cal/low-protein miracle drink doesn’t work for healthy weight
management or sports training. It could also harm by depleting energy, messing with metabolic rate, and causing stomach distress.
The fact is, the liver is the body’s best way to detoxify naturally, so if we eat well most of the time, the body can take care of itself without fad cleanses or diets:
Fresh is best, so skip the supplements. Go for the brightest and most flavorful fresh fruits and vegetables. Phytochemicals — responsible for strong aroma, color, and flavor — occur naturally in plants, have been shown to help fight cancer from developing, and help slow the growth of cancer cells. They can also help prevent cell damage, reduce inflammation, regulate hormones, and kill off damaged cells before they can reproduce. Whole grains, too, get you the nutrients and anti-oxidants you need, while keeping you feeling full and satisfied. Nutritional supplements may not be absorbed as easily as food sources.
Cut back on red meats, avoid processed ones. The American Institute for Cancer Research advises limiting eating red meat (beef, lamb, and pork) to no more than three portions per week (12-18 ounces). Any more than this increases colorectal cancer risk. Processed deli meats, eaten regularly, can also put you at risk for colorectal and stomach cancer. (Save the salami for special occasions.)
Limit alcohol and don’t smoke. Limit two drinks for men, and one for women per day. Alcohol can be more harmful when combined with smoking.
Replace sugar with fruit, and sugary drinks with fruit-infused water. Try a sprinkle of cinnamon or cocoa instead of sugar in coffee!
A balanced, healthy diet of lean proteins, fruits, veggies, whole grains, and water (with exercise for 30 minutes, five days per week) always beats the “quick” fix myth!
By Lisa Miceli Feliciano