Now that you’ve made the first step to quit smoking, you’ve been researching how to get your health back on track. Every website you visit tells you that you need to do a detox diet to heal your body and clean out your lungs naturally.
Table of Contents
- Firstly, what is a ‘detox’?
- What substances does the body regularly detox?
- Fad diets and detox
- How can I detox my body from smoking?
Firstly, what is a ‘detox’?
Many of us are not aware of the biology of detox (or detoxification) and assume that we need to do this to keep our bodies healthy. Detox diets are peddled to the general public as a ‘cure all’ that will cleanse your system naturally. Proponents of ‘detox’ claim that it can help with a variety of ailments often caused by our modern lifestyles. These claimed benefits range from weight loss to having clear skin, regular bowel movements and some even claim to help slow down the progression of certain diseases like cancer.
The truth is, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
Some popular detox diets include:
• Fasting (i.e., not eating any food, but usually involved drinking a lot of water)
• Consuming only fruits & vegetables (and/ or their juices)
• Cutting out wheat & dairy
• Avoiding caffeine & alcohol• Use detox solutions (e.g., herbal supplements and teas)
Nutrition is incredibly individualised and what works for one person may not work for another. So, it’s important to understand the ‘why’ behind the ‘what’. Eliminating (or adding) certain foods and substances to or from your diet may make you feel better, but often it has nothing to do with the commonly believed concept of ‘detoxification’. For example, if you don’t ever eat fruits and vegetables and then decide to embark on a fruit and vegetable only detox diet, you may feel amazing. The reason why you feel amazing is due to the inclusion of fruits and vegetables, not necessarily because they have removed a nefarious toxin from your body.
In addition to these dietary changes, traditional detox diets also usually recommend that you drink more water, exercise, get more sleep and eliminate toxins from your environment (like smoking). These are all very healthy habits to adopt, with or without ‘detoxing’.
Many people also wrongly assume that if they have increased excretion (i.e., urine and stools) that this is the best way to ‘flush’ toxic compounds from the body. This is a false perception and may be due to a number of reasons, like increased fibre intake from fruits and vegetables or increased water intake. Some of the herbal supplements and teas have a laxative effect. These also cause an increase of excretions, occasionally to the point where it becomes dangerous due to dehydration and an imbalance of electrolytes.
How does the body detox itself naturally
Detoxification is actually a continuous process that the body performs naturally. Seventy five percent of the deactivation of toxins take place in your liver. When potentially harmful substances enter the body, the body’s detoxification systems, which consist of a series of metabolic reactions, start performing.
The 3 phases of detoxification
- Identification: Your liver identifies harmful substances and destabilizes them so that they can be seen by the body. The enzymes in phase 1 can be used up by stress hormones like cortisol, certain medication and tobacco. This means that there are not enough phase 1 enzymes to show the body which toxins need to be eliminated. If they are unable to be identified, they remain in the body for a much longer period of time and this prolonged exposure can lead to damage.
- Neutralization: These destabilized substances are especially dangerous. They are quickly bound to specialised substances to make them harmless and soluble (aka they are neutralized). Nutrients like amino acids, methyl donors and glutathione facilitate this conversion. You want phase 2 to be upscaled as much as possible to prevent the destabilized substances from doing too much damage.
- Elimination: Finally, the end products are excreted by our skin (sweat), lungs (breath), kidneys (urine) and the digestive tract (stools). It is vital that you drink enough water daily so that these excrements can be removed quickly and efficiently. An average of 8 glasses of water is recommended for most people.
Your detoxification pathways can be impaired for a variety of reasons, including a poor diet, drug induced nutrient depletion, intestinal permeability, as well as genetic variations.
What substances does the body regularly detox?
Compounds that are foreign to the body, as well as drugs and toxins are known as xenobiotics. Xenobiotics can either be external or exogenous, meaning that these are chemicals and pollutants that are in the air, water, food additives as well as drugs. And that can be internal or endogenous, meaning that they are end products from metabolism or hormones, bacterial by-products and other complex molecules.
Types of ‘toxins’ range from: processed foods, medication, smoke, alcohol, caffeine, heavy metals and pesticides to the end products of metabolism, hormones or bacterial by-products.
Fad diets and detox
The reason why fad detox diets don’t work in the long run is as follows:
- Not long term, sustainable diets
- Usually only based on elimination of certain foods
- Do not necessarily include foods to support actual detoxification pathways
- Weight loss is seen as the ‘result’, this is usually water loss
How can I detox my body from smoking?
You want to support your body to quickly identify toxins and neutralize them as soon as possible. This means upregulating the enzymes in phase 1 and ensuring that sufficient nutrients are available to facilitate phase 2.
We need a large variety of nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients (anti-oxidants) that support these enzymes and metabolic processes.
Foods that support detoxification:
- Protein containing foods
- Grapes, berries, and citrus fruits
- Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage
- Garlic and onions
- Eggs and whey protein
- Dandelion greens
- Citrus peels, caraway and dill oil
Drinks that support detoxification:
- Fresh vegetables juices: Carrot, celery, cilantro, beets, parsley & ginger
- Herbal teas: Burdock root, dandelion root, ginger root, liquorice root, sarsaparilla root, cardamom seed & cinnamon bark
- Regular green tea or decaffeinated green tea
Flavour that supports detoxification:
- Cilantro/ coriander
- Curcuminoids (turmeric & curry)
Detox drink for smokers
This staple smoothie is not only healthy, but tasty and so quick to make. Besides being a powerhouse of nutrients (potassium from the banana, folate from the spinach and soluble fibre with the oats), the whey protein boosts your phase 2 detoxification pathways by providing the amino acids cysteine and glutamine. The more efficiently you can neutralize those toxins, the quicker you can flush them from your system!
1 ½ cup low fat milk or unsweetened and fortified milk alternative
1 scoop plain or vanilla whey protein powder
1 x frozen banana
1-2 handful baby spinach
¼ cup raw oats (rolled or quick)
2 tsp sugar free peanut butter
Lemon juice contains a powerful substance called limonene. It is a terpene that gives lemon its characteristic scent but it also has some powerful health benefits. It helps to increase the number of enzymes needed by the liver to eliminate toxins, especially carcinogens (or cancer causing substances). This is one you definitely do not want to give a miss to cleanse your lungs naturally.
1 cup low fat milk or unsweetened and fortified milk alternative
¾ cup plain low fat yogurt
2 x frozen bananas
4 pitted dates (soaked in hot water for 5 minutes if not soft)
3-4 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 Tbsp. ground flaxseed
¾ tsp ground turmeric
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
½ cup ice
Beet and berry delight heals your lungs naturally
This gorgeous ruby red drink is very high in disease fighting anti-oxidants. As their name implies, anti-oxidants fight against inflammation causing oxidants, keeping your lungs (and liver) in tip top shape.
1 cup apple juice
⅓ cup peeled and chopped beetroot, raw
1 ⅓ cup frozen berries
¼ frozen banana
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
Handful fresh mint
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup ice
Tropical cilantro smoothie to quit smoking
The cilantro in this heavenly tropical drink is a leafy green that you want to incorporate more often. Smoking related diseases (like lung cancer) can be attributed to a number of toxins in cigarette smoke, including heavy metals. Cilantro is known to assist with heavy metal detoxification, getting you back to pre-smoking health as soon as possible!
1 ½ cups light coconut milk
1 Tbsp. lime juice
2 cups peeled, chopped pineapple
1 x frozen banana
1 – 1 ½ cups fresh cilantro
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
Green Ginger Goddess
Last, but certainly not least, ginger for the win. Ginger is known for its amazing flavour and is a common ingredient in Asian inspired dishes. Did you know that it also contains powerful anti-oxidants and upregulates the production of the liver enzymes needed to flush toxins from your body for good. This means that it is actively healing your lungs while simultaneously preventing further damage! We’d call that a win-win situation!
2 x big handfuls fresh baby spinach
1 apple cored and quartered
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
Small handful mint leaves
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup ice
For all of these smoothies, add all the ingredients to your high speed blender and blend until smooth. Add more fluid if too thick and add ice if you prefer a slushy texture. Consume immediately.
Your body is continuously detoxing on your behalf. If you’ve ever done a traditional detox diet and felt momentarily better, it can be attributed to any of the dietary or non-dietary changes that you make. All of these actions, together, will help you to feel healthier and more energized. It doesn’t mean that it’s the restriction or a special combination of foods that have made you feel better.
If you are still thinking about how you are going to stop smoking, remember that using natural methods like hypnosis can help you quit the habit and maintain your commitment to stop your nicotine addiction. The first step is the most important one, download the Quit Smoking Hypnosis app today and get a head start on the best decision you will ever make in your life!