The word “detox” is typically associated with the physical body, and also with the negative—i.e. foods to cut out of your diet—but Seattle-based nutritionist and functional medicine practitioner Deanna Minich, Ph.D. makes the compelling argument for a much more holistic, additive (and, in truth, fun) route.
The Seven Systems of Health are based on the seven key centers of the body, known in yogic medicine as chakras, or in Western medical terminology, more akin to psycho-neuro-endocrine glands. Each system is related to different organs, emotions, and colors—with correlates across physiology, psychology, lifestyle, and food. I’ve developed the Spectrum Quiz (included in the book) to help people assess whether one (or many) of their systems may be imbalanced.
THE SEVEN SYSTEMS OF HEALTH
All things physical—what allows us to be fully in our body and define our boundaries, structure, and sense of survival. If your ROOT system is off, you might feel ungrounded. When you detox your ROOT, you focus on eliminating foods that put stress on your adrenal glands and immune system. You add in red foods like bell peppers, plus protein and minerals for extra support. You look at your relationship to your family and larger community.
All things emotional, including creativity, sensuality, and partnership. This is our reproductive system. Imbalances may revolve around fertility or anxiety, or a feeling of being blocked or not able to fully express ourselves. Detoxing your FLOW is about hydration, eliminating factors that throw off your reproductive hormones, and support in the form of healthy fats and orange, carotenoid-rich foods like sweet potatoes, as well as engaging in creative activities.
All things mental or involving thought, taking in, transforming, giving out, and directing our energy. The parts of the body associated with FIRE are the pancreas, liver, gallbladder, intestine, and stomach—i.e. our digestive system. When FIRE is in balance, we can easily break down and digest information. Our energy is strong and stable. To detox your FIRE, you incorporate more high-fiber carbohydrates (like those in legumes) and yellow foods like turmeric and ginger; and less quick-burning carbs. You might examine your version of “work-life” balance and what your ambition or drive is.
All things related to love, compassion, devotion, and expansion in the heart and body. Moving up from the belly, we get to the heart and cardiovascular system. When this system is in balance, we can embrace love, service, and devotion. Green foods like spirulina, chlorella, broccoli, and kale are “heart healthy.” The LOVE detox also involves aerobic movement to get your cardio-pulmonary system going, and exercises of compassion and self-love.
All things connected to our sense of personal truth, how we speak, our unique voice, and the expression of our desires into the world. This represents the throat chakra, where our voice box and thyroid gland (connected to metabolism) are located. The TRUTH detox includes adding in sea vegetables (like nori, dulse, kelp) that are full of iodine, which can help support the thyroid. You also look toward making the choices that serve you best.
All things intuitive, intellectual, and imaginative, as they relate to the brain, our moods, and sleep. Problems in this arena include poor sleep, foggy brain, depressed mood. You support this system with blue and purple foods—like blueberries, blackberries, purple asparagus—which can help support neuro-plasticity. The INSIGHT detox also includes keeping a dream journal and paying attention to your inner voice, or intuition.
All things spiritual, including our sense of purpose, our feeling of being connected to the larger whole, and the ability to purify our being. When the SPIRIT is in balance, life has meaning. When it is not in balance, you have a lack of vitality. To support your SPIRIT, think white foods with healing properties (cauliflower, coconut, garlic, cabbage) as opposed to processed foods with white flour or sugar. The SPIRIT detox focuses on things like contemplation and reflection, quality time in nature, and possibly energy medicine therapy (such as Reiki).