13 Foods for a Potent, Natural Detox
Though detox diets and cleanses have become almost as trendy as iPads, French bulldogs, hot yoga, and inflated self-esteem, the concept of internal cleansing and detoxification has been around for quite some time. Unfortunately, living in a world of florescent lights (instead of sunshine), cubicle walls (rather than nature), and toxic compounds in the food we eat, the water we drink, and the air we breathe has led us down a path of deteriorating health. The Standard American Diet, filled with processed convenience foods, animal products, and sugar, has heavily contributed to the toxic load in the average person's body. Much like a car's need for oil changes, we, too, are in need of ongoing internal cleanup.
Are you in need of more detoxifying foods in your life? Review the following list of questions. If your answer is yes to any of them, you should definitely consider incorporating a detoxification program into your self-care regimen.
- Compared to other people your age, do you feel less healthy, active, and vibrant?
- Do you have low energy levels more often than not?
- Do you often have difficulty with thinking clearly and/or concentrating?
- Do you often feel sad or depressed?
- Do you get more than one or two colds per year?
- Do you suffer from premenstrual syndrome?
- Do you have sore, achy muscles that cannot be attributed to exercise or injury?
- Do you have bad breath?
- Do you have a bowel movement less than once a day?
- Do you have smelly stools?
- When waking up in the morning after a full night's sleep, do you feel tired, lethargic, and not re-energized?
If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, consider this your body's maintenance light. It's time for you to schedule an internal tune-up. Don't stress yourself out with the idea of needing to commit the next week of your life to a green juice fast. There are some much less drastic action steps you can take.
First, it's time to make a commitment to trade in some of those toxic foods for some detoxifying ones. By doing so, you will begin to reduce the toxic load on your body, while providing your system with the proper nutritional support it needs to begin to heal itself. And, finally, here's the exciting news: the following list of detoxifying foods are all simple, easy to find, inexpensive, and, most importantly, delicious. Check em out, make a grocery list (don't stop there, go shopping!), and start replacing a few of your not-so-healthy choices with some of the super-cleansing and health-promoting foods below.
- Support the heart, lungs, large intestines, stomach, and spleen
- Invigorate the body and assist in releasing toxins
- Due to the apple's malic and tartaric acid content, apples are easier for our body to digest and assimilate than most other fruits
- Green apples are extra special because they help cleanse the liver and gallbladder, and they even help soften gallstones
- Help lower cholesterol, promote beneficial intestinal flora, and support colon functioning
- Low in calories and high in fiber, making them an easily digestible food and allowing for a deeper level of detoxification
Helpful Tips: Because apples are one of the most chemically contaminated fruits, do your best to always opt for organic varieties. Granny Smith and Fuji apples tend to have a longer shelf life than their softer, sweeter counterparts. Apples can be stored in a cool, dry place and can even be refrigerated for up to a month. Just make sure there are no bruises when apples are stored together in the same bowl or bag. All it takes is one bad apple to ruin the bunch! Bruises on apples are like rust on your ride.
- Energizes the kidneys, lungs, and spleen
- Assists our body in getting rid of excess toxins and water
- Soothes internal membranes
- Reduces phlegm and mucus
- Eases constipation
- Excellent for treating cystitis, kidney disease, infectious diseases, and liver disorders, all of which inhibit detoxification
- Contains bioflavonoids, which contain remarkable immune-boosting properties. The healthier our immune system, the more ongoing detoxification will occur in our body
Helpful Tips: The fibrous stalk end of asparagus must be removed, which can be done by holding each end of the spear and bending until it naturally snaps in two. Bunches that contain lots of woody, flat stalks should be avoided. Because pesticides are not typically used on commercial asparagus, its okay to bypass organic bunches. They can be kept loosely covered in the fridge if being used within a day or so of purchase; otherwise, wrap a moist paper towel around the ends, or stand them upright in 1-2 inches of water.
- Support the large intestine, lungs, stomach, and spleen
- Help disperse toxins
- Used to treat constipation and ease thirst
- Ripe bananas (completely yellow with brown spots) are highly nutritious, easily digested, treat/prevent ulcers, and are soothing to the mucous lining of the stomach.
- Underripe and green bananas are more difficult to digest, but can be used to relieve diarrhea and colitis.
Helpful Tips: To speed up the ripening process of bananas, place them in a bag in a warm spot. Once ripe, they can be refrigerated for up to two weeks. The peel will blacken, but this does not change the color or flavor of the fruit inside.
- Support the lungs, spleen, and stomach
- Help clear toxins
- Contain antioxidants that helps slow and prevent cell deterioration
- Help treat constipation (healthy digestion and regular bowel movements are crucial for proper detoxification).
- Have bacteria-fighting capabilities
- Very high in fiber
Helpful Tips: Wild blueberries, which are smaller, have more of a tart flavor, and are more vibrantly colored, are more nutritious than cultivated blueberries.
- Nourish almost every system in the body, especially the liver, lungs, and stomach
- Dispel toxins and move energy throughout the body
- Fight intestinal gas and parasites
- Prevent constipation and treat indigestion
- Stabilize blood sugar
- Contain potassium salts, which give carrots diuretic properties
Helpful Tips: Due to the concentration of nutrients in and near the skin, carrots are best when eaten unpeeled. Don't throw out those carrot tops! The nutrient-dense carrot greens can be used as a stronger-flavored parsley in dishes, juiced, or even blended into green smoothies.
- Cleanses and detoxifies the blood
- Treats the large intestine, lungs, stomach, and spleen
- Excellent source of chlorophyll, which has a highly alkalinizing and detoxifying effect on the body
- Eases constipation
- Regulates internal organs
Helpful Tips: Because chard contains oxalic acid, its advised to enjoy this leafy green in moderation, especially if you are prone to kidney stones. A few times a week is ideal.
7. Cilantro/Coriander Seeds
- Supports the spleen, stomach, bladder, and lungs
- Helps regulate energy
- Is a diuretic and is an excellent treatment of urinary tract infections
- Aids digestion, relieves intestinal gas and pain
- Soothes inflammation
- Quenches thirst
- Safely removes toxins, including heavy metals, from the nervous system and body tissues
Helpful Tips: To keep fresh, cover cilantro with damp paper towels in a vented container and use within 5 days. After a meal, chew a few coriander seeds for fresh breath and to stimulate gastric juices for optimal digestion.
- Stimulates digestion and boosts circulation
- Increases circulation, which aids in systemic cleansing through the skin, bowels, and kidneys
- Contains anti-inflammatory properties
- Destroys intestinal parasites
- Helps support the liver and the release of bile
Helpful Tips: Ginger should be refrigerated unwrapped. When tightly covered, it will become moldy. Excessive use of ginger can cause digestive upset and is not recommended for people with gallstones.
- Tonifies the spleen, stomach, kidneys, and lungs
- Stimulates metabolism and improves digestion
- Possesses antibacterial and antifungal properties
- Helps stabilize blood sugar levels
- Fights parasites and promotes healthy intestinal flora
- Eliminates toxins from the body, including heavy metals
Helpful Tips: Dried, powdered, or granulated garlic does not contain the same medicinal properties as fresh garlic.
- Support the kidneys, lungs, liver, spleen, and stomach
- Used to build blood and body fluids
- Cleanse our glands
- Used to relieve thirst, constipation, gastritis, and difficulty with urination
- Relieve inflammation
- Promote the health of our cells and longevity
- Treat viral and fungal infections
Helpful Tips: Red and purple grapes are higher in antioxidants than green varieties. Grapes are heavily treated with chemicals, so it's best to go for organic ones.
- Referred to as a natural detoxifier due to their ability to absorb and safely eliminate toxins, such as fat in the blood, pathogens, and excess phlegm in the respiratory system
- Tonify the blood
- Help resolve mucus in the body
Helpful Tips: Mushrooms should be cleaned with a damp paper towel rather than washed. Mushrooms absorb the flavors of whatever they are cooked in. The finer they are diced, the more flavor they'll absorb.
- Purifies the blood
- Supports the bladder, kidneys, and stomach
- Helps regulate water imbalances and eliminate toxins
- Stimulates the bowels
- Treats kidney stones and gallstones
- Reduces allergic reactions and boosts the immune system, which is crucial for thorough detoxification
Helpful Tips: Italian flat-leaf parsley has a stronger flavor than curly parsley. Dried parsley offers little flavor and less nutritional value.
- Bursting with easily assimilated nutrients
- Detoxify the body, especially the liver
- Support the kidneys, large intestine, spleen, and stomach
- Tonify the blood
- Broccoli sprouts are a concentrated source of sulforaphane, an anticancer compound. One ounce of broccoli sprouts contains more sulforaphane than two pounds of broccoli.
Helpful Tips: Alfalfa sprouts should not be consumed by people with lupus, pregnant women, children, or those with a weakened immune system.
Wood, R. (2010). The new whole foods encyclopedia. New York, NY: Penguin Books, Inc.
Murray, M.T., & Pizzorno, J. (2012). The encyclopedia of natural medicine. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, Inc.