Detox diets have become something very popular with people over the past few years, but is there a need to opt for these detox diets to detoxify the body? Dr Muneer Udayar, a 9th generation Ayurvedic physician and descendant of the Royal traditional Ayurvedic physicians who served the Kandyan kings, sheds light on how to detoxify the body using local spices and herbs.
“Detoxification is the process of removing toxins and waste materials from the body,” he said, stating that waste materials, toxins and microbes could enter the body in various methods. “Toxins could enter the respiratory tract in the form of dust particles, pollutants such as particulate matter, unburnt hydrocarbons from combustion of petrol and diesel and air borne microbes. Toxins could also enter the body through medicines, as some medicines can get accumulated in the liver over a period of time and cause a toxic effect on the body. He also revealed that food grown using chemical fertilizers contribute to the accumulation of large amounts of toxins in the body. “The reason kidney diseases are on the rise now is due to the usage of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. These contain harmful chemicals and heavy metals, which can also enter drinking water and cause kidney problems. Consuming food grown using these fertilizers also lead to accumulation of heavy metals and toxins in the body,” he said while advising people to consume organic food to minimise and prevent toxin accumulation from food.
Detoxification using local herbs and spices
Dr Udayar pointed out that historically, certain local herbs were used in detoxification of the body. He stated turmeric has detoxification properties. Another popular detoxicant mentioned was Clearing Nut/ Strychnos potatorum (also know as Ingini in Sinhala) which was used even as a water purifier in ancient times. “This is very helpful for those who have kidney diseases. In my experience, many patients who have had this were able to enhance their kidney function and reduce the creatinine protein levels in the blood. High creatinine protein levels indicate that the kidneys aren’t functioning properly. After treatment with the clearing nut, it is seen that the function of the kidneys almost returns to normal, even relieving the need to undergo dialysis,” he shared. He advised that taking four clearing nuts, letting it soak in water overnight and drinking 300ml of that water throughout the day can help detoxify the body.
He mentioned that Cooking Melon (Kekiri in Sinhala) seeds, tender leaves of bottle gourd, Garcinia morella (Gokatu in Sinhala), Heen nerenchi are also herbs that can be used for detoxification. “These herbs can only be purchased on the advice of a registered ayurvedic practitioner. After understanding a person’s medical condition, the ayurvedic physician will prescribe the herbs as required,” he said.
He also revealed that spices used in cooking also can help in detoxifying the body. Goraka (Garcinia cambogia) has an acid that is able to break down and clear cholesterol and fats in the blood vessels. “Tamarind, pepper, garlic and cinnamon too have this property which can lower the amounts of cholesterol in the blood. By removing such materials and clearing the blood, it prevents diseases like heart diseases,” Dr Udayar revealed. He stated that moringa leaves help to clear toxins from the blood and also prevent stomach from drying.
Diet and exercise play a part
“Sweating also helps to remove toxins from the body. Therefore, engaging in activities that cause sweating such as exercising is a good way to increase the removal of toxins from the body,” he said adding that sweating also helps to remove salt, preventing increased blood pressure.
When talking about diet, he said minimising of processed food with artificial flavours, additives and colours also minimizes toxins from entering the body. “Synthetic colouring and additives are difficult to remove. They are also toxic agents. Our kidneys have to work hard removing them, so minimising and preventing consumption of such food will ensure that detoxifying organs in the body aren’t exhausted and can work efficiently,” he said. He also pointed out that consuming food containing monosodium glutamate (MSG) is harmful for the body and it is also regarded as a carcinogenic substance.
“Drinking hot water on an empty stomach in the morning helps to balance the acid levels in the stomach and digestive tract. Drinking adequate water also helped to flush out toxins,” he added.
“To ensure that we don’t increase the toxin levels in the body and our detoxifying organs work efficiently, we should minimise taking toxins into the body. This can be primarily controlled through our diet. Also, we must take measures to naturally detoxify the body by exercising and consuming natural detoxicants,” Dr Udayar stated.