Although our bodies naturally rid themselves of toxins accumulated from poor diet and environmental factors, we use many nutrients (e.g., vitamins, minerals and other phytonutrients, particularly antioxidants) in this process. Much of our detoxification process takes place in the liver and digestive tract as well as in the kidneys, skin and lungs. In addition to eliminating toxic materials from our bodies, detoxification neutralizes free radicals that cause cellular damage and aging.
Recently, detoxing has almost become synonymous with juice cleanses, but did you know that you can detox just by eating the right foods? You can actually eat and enjoy food and still help your body cleanse itself of toxins.
In general, foods and beverages that are anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, alkalinizing, full of phytonutrients and antioxidants and high in prebiotics and probiotics will be your best bets for naturally detoxing in a sustainable way. Here are my favorite detoxifying foods and why they work so well:
1. Artichokes boost your liver function and contain silymarin, an antioxidant that helps the liver process toxins. Jerusalem artichokes are especially high in the prebiotic inulin, which helps keep your gut healthy by fueling probiotics, or “good bacteria.”
2. Asparagus contains enzymes that are known to help break down and detoxify your body from the effects of food and alcohol and has anticancer, anti-inflammatory and antiaging properties. It is also high in prebiotics.
3. Broccoli contains important phytochemicals that work with the enzymes in the liver to convert toxins into substances that are easily eliminated. It’s also high in fiber and has been linked to decreasing the risk of cancer.
4. Avocados contain soluble and insoluble fiber to aid in cleansing the colon. This delicious, healthy, high-fat food is an excellent source of antioxidants and helps the liver detox from carcinogens and other synthetic substances.
5. Kale helps flush out the kidneys and is packed with a ton of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, not to mention all of the vitamins and minerals it contains. It is also high in vitamin K, which promotes healthy blood and strong bones.
6. Apples contain phytochemicals such as D-glucarate, flavonoids and terpenoids — all substances used in the detoxification process. Apples are also high in pectin, a soluble fiber that binds to metals and food additives to help the body eliminate them. Apple chips are an easy way to enjoy these benefits.
7. Goji berries boost your vitamin C and beta-carotene intake. Gram for gram, goji berries pack more vitamin C than oranges and more beta-carotene than carrots. Vitamin C helps to neutralize free radicals before they can cause damage. It also aids in the production of the antioxidant glutathione, which helps in liver detoxification.
8. Lemons and lemon juice are often included in detox cleanses. This fruit stimulates the release of enzymes and helps convert toxins into a water-soluble form that can be easily excreted from the body. In addition, they contain high amounts of vitamin C.
9) The pink and red colors of grapefruit, another vitamin C-rich fruit, are due to lycopene, a carotenoid phytonutrient. Among the common dietary carotenoids, lycopene has the highest capacity to help fight free radicals.
10. Hemp might just be one of nature’s most perfect foods because it’s full of antioxidants like vitamins E and C as well as chlorophyll that helps cleanse the body from toxins of all kinds, including heavy metals. The soluble and insoluble fiber in hemp can also keep the digestive tract clean and reduce the toxic burden on other internal organs.
11. Onions and garlic are brimming with sulfur-containing compounds, which efficiently detox the liver. They have antioxidant, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory qualities and are known to fight free radicals and (potentially) cancer and cardiovascular disease.
12. Green tea is often thought of as a great addition to any detox program because of its high antioxidant value. Antioxidants are helpful because they will seek out and kill free radicals before they can do any damage.
BONUS: Water is often overlooked, but it’s one of the most important beverages for flushing toxins out of your body. Aim for eight glasses a day and definitely replace those sugary beverages with hydrating glasses of water.