A Revealing Reset

Embarking on a journey to resetting your gut, often referred to as a “detox” or “cleanse,” is akin to hitting the restart button for your body’s microbiome and gastrointestinal tract. Just like you need downtime to restore your energy, your gut also needs intervals of rest for optimal functionality. This pause can trigger antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities, cell renewal, and even help reduce issues such as bloating and fluid retention. Such practices have become increasingly popular, encouraging mindful eating habits. We spoke with three nutrition experts around the state for advice on how to effectively reset our systems.

Jennifer Barongan, integrative nutrition health coach and founder of Jen and Juice in Virginia Beach, is a firm believer in cleansing and resetting our minds and bodies through juices and smoothies, which she says are easier on the digestive system. Her company sells signature organic cold-pressed juices like Turn up the Beet and Easy Being Green and offers customizable juice-cleanse options. Depending on needs and preferences, customers can choose from The Half Day, The Full Day, or The Multi-Day cleanse.

Barongan personally aims to cleanse quarterly, aligning with the changing seasons and other life transitions. “Our bodies are going to cleanse and renew regularly,” she says, “so instead of resisting or ignoring these things, why not participate in the changes and assist our body’s internal processes just as often as we support what is seen externally?”

According to Caroline Thomason, registered dietitian and certified diabetes care and education specialist based in Warrenton, the best strategy for resetting our systems involves a high-fiber approach. “Fiber helps bind and remove toxins that can otherwise get digested and absorbed from our digestive tract,” she says. Smoothies are the winner here, as juicing strips out the fiber, and you can make a balanced meal out of a smoothie by adding other food groups. Clearly a smoothie enthusiast, Thomason recommends Daily Harvest for ready-to-blend ingredients and recipes, available for home delivery. She also gives a thumbs up to Switchback, a delicious freeze-dried green smoothie powder packed with 100 percent whole fruits and vegetables. 

Aside from juicing and smoothies, other healthy options exist for resetting your digestive system. Caitlin Weis, registered dietitian nutritionist and owner of Weis Nutrition, LLC, in Richmond, believes the best way to support cleansing our systems is to “focus on hydration by drinking enough water throughout the day, and increasing fiber intake through fruits, vegetables, beans/legumes, and whole grains.” She adds that eating fermented foods, such as yogurt, kefir, kimchi, and sauerkraut, also helps to balance the gut with healthy bacteria. 

Weis recommends adding some of these foods daily as well as including vegetables with meals, using more herbs when cooking, and drinking a cup of tea a day. One of her favorite recipes incorporating many healthy, fiber-filled ingredients is an Asian tofu bowl made with bok choy, red bell pepper, brown rice, carrots, and ginger. 

Though various forms of resetting our systems can be beneficial in removing toxins from your body, it’s important to remember that “detox diets” and “gut cleanses” are not standalone remedies, quick fixes for weight loss, or long-term solutions for unhealthy eating habits. Instead, these strategies offer a chance to implement a healthier lifestyle in the long run. 

In addition to these practices, you can make small changes such as limiting alcohol and caffeine intake, cutting back on processed foods and sugars, and incorporating regular exercise. One crucial factor affecting gut health that is often overlooked is stress, which can wreak havoc on your gut and lead to increased inflammation and gut permeability. Therefore, it is essential to pay attention to your body holistically and consult healthcare and nutrition experts before making significant changes to your diet. JenAndJuice.com, CarolineThomason.com, WeisNutrition.com, DailyHarvest.com, SwitchbackFoods.com

Asian Tofu Bowl

Asian Tofu Bowl

16 oz. firm tofu, diced

1 cup brown rice

5 medium sized carrots, diced

1 red bell pepper, diced

3-4 baby bok choy, diced, stems and leaves separated

1/3 cup hoisin sauce

3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

2 tablespoons sesame oil

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon ginger powder

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 inch ginger, minced

2 tablespoons avocado oil, separated

1 lemon

1 lime

Sesame seeds

Drain tofu and place on a paper-towel lined plate. Place several paper towels on top and a heavy pan or cookbook on top to release excess liquid.

Cook brown rice according to package directions (rice cookers work well)

Dice carrots, pepper, and bok choy, separating leaves from stems. Mince garlic and ginger.

Mix together hoisin, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, garlic, and ginger powder in a bowl.

Cook carrots, pepper, bok choy stems, minced garlic, and ginger in 1 tablespoon avocado oil over medium heat for 5-6 minutes until softened. Add bok choy leaves and cook an additional 2-3 minutes. Top with fresh squeezed lemon and lime juice.

While vegetables cook, sauté diced tofu in 1 tablespoon avocado oil over medium heat until crispy. Add sauce.

Top brown rice with cooked vegetables, tofu with sauce, and sesame seeds. Enjoy!

Recipe by Caitlin Weis, from Weis Nutrition.  

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