Figuring out which foods are best for a “cleanse” can be tricky. A good detoxification program includes so many wonderful foods that feel refreshing and rejuvenating—hot tea, raw vegetables, and fresh fruit come to mind. And with good reason: foods with insoluble fiber (like raw veggies) or a diuretic effect (like green tea), promote speedy digestion and “flush” the GI tract. These foods can be considered the best “cleanse” choices.
Here are some of my faves and why they cleanse your body
Artichokes contain antioxidant plant compounds known as caffeoylquinic acids, which are used to treat hepatic (liver) disorders because they stimulate bile flow. Bile helps the body to digest fats, and efficient bile flow clears the system of potentially inflammatory substances contained in fatty foods.
It is not only a tasty veggie that can help to detoxify the body, but it can also help you wage the anti-aging battle, protect you from getting cancer, help your heart stay healthy, and is a general anti-inflammatory food. It’s also known to help with liver drainage, filtering out the toxic materials in the food and drinks we consume.
Beets are among the few edible plants that contain betalains which are plant pigments that give some beets their deep red color and have powerful anti-inflammatory and fungicidal properties. Betalains also promote cell structure, repair, and regeneration, especially in the liver—the body’s primary detox center.
Broccoli is one of the cruciferous vegetables, which are named for their cross-shaped flowers and known for powerful antioxidant properties. Broccoli contains a unique chemical called sulforaphane that can help fight off malignant cells in the body. Research also shows broccoli has the ability to detoxify the body of cancer-inducing chemicals before they get a chance to cause problems.
5. Brussel sprouts and cabbage
Both of these foods are part of the cruciferous category of vegetables and contain compounds known as isothiocyanates. This compound helps to eliminate potential carcinogens from the body and prevent cancer. Brussel sprouts are high in fiber which helps to prevent constipation and colon cancer. Overall, these vegetables offer over 20 essential vitamins and minerals as well as antioxidants that promote good health.
6. Dandelion root
This green plant is well known for its therapeutic uses, not only acts as a diuretic by increasing urine production to eliminate toxins and metabolic wastes but is also rich in medicinal properties that stimulate stomach function and promotes bile. Dandelion can also help relieve constipation, soothe an upset stomach, and help shed water weight.
7. Dark Greens
Greens like wheatgrass, kale, spinach, spirulina, alfalfa, chard, arugula, and collards can boost your detoxification program by giving your digestive tract a detoxifying boost of chlorophyll. Chlorophyll helps rid the body of harmful environmental toxins from toxic metals, herbicides, cleaning products, and pesticides.
8. Green tea
Green tea is richer in antioxidants than white, black, and oolong teas, even though they all come from the same plant. The caffeine in green tea also gives this energizing drink a diuretic effect, which helps to alleviate bloating by counteracting water retention. Polyphenols, the antioxidant-rich phytochemicals found in green tea leaves, help to detoxify the body by eliminating harmful free radicals. Studies have also shown that increased consumption of green tea may help reduce belly fat when combined with exercise, thanks to the catechin EGCG, a powerful antioxidant.
Like other citrus fruits, lemons are rich in the antioxidant Vitamin C and can enhance mineral absorption. Lemons also contain the antioxidant d-limonene, which has been shown to activate enzymes in the liver that are part of the detoxification processes including maintaining an alkaline condition in the body.
10. Milk thistle
Milk thistle is one of the frequently researched plants associated with promoting liver detoxification. Milk thistle contains flavonoids, which is one of the best antioxidants to help get rid of toxins and also helps your liver by stabilizing the cell membranes, stimulating the synthesis of protein, and causing the regeneration of damaged liver tissue to happen faster.
11. Mung Beans
This small green legume has been used for their health benefits for thousands of years. These little beans are very filling, high in protein, incredibly easy to digest and are known to absorb toxic residue from the intestinal walls. They are also a high source of nutrients including manganese, potassium, magnesium, folate, copper, zinc and various B vitamins.
12. Onion and garlic
Both plants are members of the allium family of vegetables, which provide pungent flavors to foods. These plants contain flavonoids that stimulate the production of glutathione, one of the liver’s strongest antioxidants. As a result, onion and garlic have powerful anti-bacterial and immune-boosting properties as well as a key enzyme for removing toxins in the blood.
Adapt and Accommodate What You Can
Keep in mind that not one single detox food on this list is a magical one that you can focus all your attention on to fully cleanse the body. Consider increasing your intake of as many as you can reasonably accommodate. Some might be hard to incorporate, either because you can’t find them locally or you can’t picture yourself adding them to your diet. Just do the best you can with what works for you and what you feel good about.
5 Foods to Avoid During a Detox
To make sure your body undergoes a good detox, it is helpful to avoid these five things that can totally derail your efforts:
Alcohol has a very toxic effect on the liver and will undo all your hard detox work. It can single-handedly cause a fatty liver, or it can contribute to one. When your liver is taxed your whole body suffers. Try to eliminate or at least drastically cut back during any detox program you follow.
Beverages with caffeine in them have a dehydrating effect on the body and make the liver work overtime to process the caffeine they contain. You must drink plenty more water to counteract the dehydrating effects they cause, so it’s easier to just avoid them while you’re trying to detox.
Excess sugar will also cause excess stress to your liver and will thwart your cleansing efforts. Try your best to cut out these foods you’re craving. You’ll find that as you release toxins from your body you’ll crave these kinds of foods less and less, but you have to give them up for this to happen. Sorry, but this also includes refraining from using artificial sweeteners such as sucralose, maltodextrin, saccharin, aspartame, Sweet ‘n’ Low, Splenda and Equal.
4. Gluten and Grains
Many people react to gluten and grains with some form of digestive or inflammatory reaction. It is best to avoid gluten foods which contain wheat, oats, rye, spelt, kamut, bulgur, couscous and barley. Many of these foods are found in items such as pasta, bread, cereals, cakes, cookies, and other products made from grains. Gluten-free foods such as brown rice, wild rice, quinoa, and buckwheat are acceptable during most detox programs.
5. Soy Protein
Soy and soy products are one of the more common food allergens. Soy is often used in packaged foods, so it is important to read food labels carefully and look for ingredients before eating a prepared food. Some foods that contain soy include soy oil, edamame, miso, natto, soya, soy sauce, tamari, textured vegetable protein (TVP) and tofu. Lastly, products which are made from soy should also be avoided such as soy cheese, soy fiber, soy flour, soy milk, soy nuts and soy yogurt.
Overeating During a Detox is Counter-Productive
Overloading your digestive system leads to things moving sluggishly, and can lead to an accumulation of toxins instead of the release of toxins. Make sure that you’re stopping when you almost feel full, and that you’re eating freshly prepared foods, not processed foods.
It is no secret that the connection between the body and the mind is a very real one, with the way your body feels playing a big part in how your brain functions and whether or not you experience a state of well-being. Keeping your body free of toxins, free radicals, and other unhealthy stuff is essential to maintaining a healthy life.
I would love to help you learn more about eating healthy foods to detox your body as an investment in feeling happy and energetic. I feel it is necessary to follow a healthy diet in order to have a nourished, strong and vibrant body. This is my motto and starting point for every patient.
Contact me today and let’s talk about how I can support you in undertaking an ideal 14-day detoxification program. You will be glad you did!
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