Submitted by Mark Fishback for Real Men Charities, Inc.
A friend e-mails that she's "detoxing"—and you might wonder if she's confessing a drug habit. Or maybe she's reclining at a spa with a big glass of green juice? Actually, she's at home, eating foods considered "detoxifiers." Typically these are foods described as "good for" the liver, the body's main cleansing organ. Detox diets also temporarily cut out a long list of items, such as foods with additives, meat and dairy. (Beware of any program that cuts out so much you're light-headed.)
Some health advisers argue that common problems like fatigue can arise from '"toxic overload," a build-up of everyday pollutants and food preservatives. Candidates for a diet detox, they say, have symptoms associated with chronic poisoning—including headaches, muscle weakness, nervousness and diarrhea, along with fatigue—or may just feel less than good.
The toxic-overload theory remains largely unproven, however. As long as it's not
diseased, the liver should be doing its job just fine without a special diet, says dietician Joanne Larsen.
That said, it can't hurt to favor those so-called detox foods—they're great for you and may even protect you from cancer. Load up on these good-for-you greens and you might not need that pricey spa—or even a special juicer.
Baby Broccoli. The federal diet recommendation for adults is at least three cups of dark leafy greens a week. Think broccoli, kale, mesclun (a mix of baby greens) and spinach. Try broccoli sprouts, which pack a bigger vitamin wallop than the adult version. There's no need to down your greens as juice, unless you like them that way, and the full vegetable provides more fiber.
Tea Up. A green-tea drinking habit may be one reason that the Chinese have lower cancer rates. Drink it fresh-brewed: bottled or instant tea has little of the key catechins that work as powerful anti-oxidants. To get the full benefits, though, you might need to take green-tea pills or expect to spend all your waking moments brewing and sipping. In a study reported last summer in a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, it took concentrated-green-tea pills equal to 8-16 cups a day to boost production of enzymes that make carcinogens less toxic.
Lime Light. Vitamin C, plentiful in limes (and of course oranges and other fruits), is a potent antioxidant. And nearly 40 years after Nobel laureate Linus Pauling famously and controversially suggested that vitamin C supplements could treat cancer, a team of Johns Hopkins scientists have shown that, at least in mice, vitamin C—and potentially other antioxidants—can indeed inhibit the growth of some tumors.
Pour on the Pesto. Garlic may block the formation of potent carcinogens in the liver, according to research this year at Penn State. Another plus is natural antifungal and antibiotic properties. So, if you've a yen for pasta or bread, have some with garlic-rich pesto sauce. And should you want to cut calories, or dairy, try grated parmesan soy cheese in homemade pesto.