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Want to feel refreshed, rejuvenated and energized this summer?  You don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on fancy cleanse schemes or expensive products which claim to help you detox. While proponents of detoxing say that you can help remove your body of buildup of toxins by including or eliminating certain elements in your diet, or just drinking juice, many scientists say that while they aren’t likely to cause harm, these detox diets are often unnecessary. Your kidney and liver naturally rid your body of toxins all the time. And, like so many words, the word detox isn’t regulated and can be used on just about any product, with some manufacturers simply replacing the words “clean” or “brush” with the word “detox.”

Much better than indulging in a fad diet or short-term cleanse is to adapt to a sustainable and long-term healthy diet, which will help you feel at your best year-round!  Sure, it may not help you lose a few pounds like a juice week or month might – but then you’re likely to gain that back later anyway.  Want to eat a healthy diet and feel great?  Summer, with its abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, long sunny days, and variety of activities, is a great time to get started on a healthy diet to make you feel your best.

You don’t need to waste hundreds of dollars on a fancy cleanse in order to “detox;” by simply eating well and following these tips, you can make sure your body stays healthy so that your liver and kidney function at their best (year-round) and detox consistently. Try these tips this summer and beyond to stay healthy year-round:

Maintain Balance (In Your Diet, That Is!)

Plant-based diets have many health benefits, including lower rates of obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and certain types of cancer.  To maximize your diet and ensure you are as healthy as possible, make sure you cut down on processed foods and focus on whole foods (more on this in a minute), following a balanced, whole foods, plant-based diet.  Check out the 7 Habits of Healthy Vegans to get you started!

Cut Down on Processed Foods

You’ve probably heard time and time again that we should reduce sodium intake, but did you know that 75 percent of Americans’ sodium consumption comes from processed foods?  So it’s not just a matter of shaking less salt over your food each night, but of cutting down on the processed foods you eat (particularly the high sodium ones – check the labels of the food you buy!).  Don’t worry, though, because we’ve got you covered – you can find great recipes for 5 whole foods plant-based meat alternatives here, or check out these 10 processed foods that  can easily be replaced whole foods!

Get Some Sun

It’s estimated that two-thirds of adults in the U.S. and Europe are vitamin D deficient. That’s a lot of people!  So while the sun is shining this summer, make sure you get plenty of sun exposure.  And in the winter months, if you live in an area where sun is less plentiful, consider a vitamin D supplement, or make sure you are getting plenty of vitamin D from fortified foods.

Beans, Beans, the Magical Fruit…

…the more you eat, the more you…(you know the rest, right?) OK, so maybe those in your immediate vicinity won’t appreciate your newfound love of beans, but beans are little nutritional powerhouses, and ultra cheap, to boot!  Beans are not only high in protein, but unlike meat, contain no cholesterol, and they also contain fiber (which most Americans don’t get enough of), meaning they keep you full for longer than meat.  Did you know you can make delicious, hearty burgers out of white beans and sweet potatoes?

Eat the Rainbow (But Not Skittles!)

Different colors of vegetables and fruits offer different nutritional benefits, so it’s important to eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables and to make sure you eat as wide a color range as possible.  Try making a salad with loads of different colors of veggies, plus some beans for protein!  Perfect for a hot summer day.

Think Small

And last but not least, think small…we’re talking micronutrients here!  Micronutrients, commonly referred to as vitamins and minerals, are what your body requires apart from macronutrients (fats, carbs and protein).  Now, plant based diets have plenty of protein, so you don’t need to worry about that!  But there are certain micronutrients you should pay attention to.  A European study found that people across all age groups did not consume sufficient iron, calcium, zinc, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B6 and folic acid.  Make sure you’re getting enough iron along with vitamin C (which helps aid your body in iron absorption), calcium, zinc and B12 (which you can get from some brands of nutritional yeast, fortified plant milks and supplements).  More information on good plant sources of key micronutrients here.

With these tips in mind, you can fuel your body the healthy way, to help your kidney and liver’s natural detox processes work constantly!

Image source: Mint Citrus Green Smoothie