Detoxing is getting a lot of press these days. With the increasing presence of additives, intensive farming and unnatural modifications being made to our food, including the toxins we ingest and are surrounded by (sugar, transfats, alcohol, smoke, pollution, etc.), it’s no wonder detoxing is so popular. Many people turn to cleanses to give their bodies a much-needed break.
Our bodies are constantly detoxing
Our bodies naturally rid themselves of toxins all the time, using the liver, kidneys, lungs, skin and digestive tract. The natural toxins accumulated from the body’s own metabolic processes, such as carbon dioxide from breathing, or metabolic bi-products of hormone production, are constantly being metabolised. Even if we were living in a pristine environment our bodies would be detoxifying each and every day, to keep all of our biochemical processes functioning.
The problem is, we don’t live in a pristine environment and toxins can accumulate from poor diet and environmental factors, placing a burden on our system and contributing to poor health.
Using food to detox your body
When you think of detoxing, you may think of juice cleanses and fasting, but did you know that you can detox just by eating the right foods? You can enjoy delicious, healthy food and still help your body cleanse itself of toxins.
I’ve recently undergone a detox program from Amrita called Easy Detox Classic. It’s a detox-in-a-box with special herbal sachets that you take alongside recommended healthy foods for a 7 days. I thoroughly recommend this easy-to-follow detox if you’re looking for a vitality boost, to kick-start weight loss, or to re-set unhealthy habits.
The herbal formula includes an array of organic, freeze-dried herbs, nutrients and superfoods that have been blended to support the body’s detoxification processes. I mixed my herbs into delicious smoothies and drank them alongside heathy foods.
When I detox I like to eat foods that are anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and alkalising, as well as being packed full of phytonutrients, fibre and antioxidants. I also eat foods high in probiotics, such as fermented foods, to support my body and digestive system as I detox.
My Top Ten Detox Foods
- Cruciferous vegetables, such as cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and kale contain an array of beneficial phytonutrients that work with the enzymes in the liver to assist conversion of toxins into substances that are easily eliminated. These vegetables are particularly useful in supporting clearance of spent hormones through the liver for safe excretion.
- Lemons stimulate release of detoxification enzymes throughout the digestive tract, as well stimulating digestive enzymes and bile production for effective digestion. They are also high in vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant and are very alkalising to the body.
- Avocados are a high in healthy fats. They keep you satisfied during a detox and contain soluble and insoluble fibre to aid in colon cleansing. They are high in free-radical-busting antioxidants, helping the liver with its detoxification processes.
- Asparagus contains an array of carotenoids and nutrients which have antioxidant properties, as well as inulin – a prebiotic – to keep your friendly bacteria happy and thriving. It also has a diuretic action, helping the kidneys eliminate toxins through urine.
- Artichokes boost your liver function as they 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 fuelling your probiotics.
- Apples are high in pectin, a soluble fibre that binds to toxins to help the body eliminate them. They also contain various phytochemicals such as, flavanoids, terpenoids and D-glucarate to aid in the detoxification of the body.
- Onions and Garlic are packed full of sulphur-containing compounds, which increase the efficiency of the liver. They have antioxidant, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory qualities to fight free radicals as well as containing anti-carcinogenic compounds.
- Cucumber is rich in water to keep your body hydrated during detoxification. It is packed with many nutrients and is a good source of soluble fibre to keep your bowels working efficiently. (N.B: non-organic cucumber contains lots of pesticides and is usually on the Dirty Dozen list. Always eat organic cucumbers when detoxing.)
- Spinach is packed with many nutrients that help the liver perform its detoxification functions, such as folate, B2, B6 and betaine among others. It’s a great addition to green smoothies while detoxing. (N.B: non-organic spinach contains lots of pesticides and is usually on the Dirty Dozen list. Always eat organic cucumbers when detoxing.)
- Sprouts are packed with concentrated nutrients and are much more potent than their respective vegetable. For example, broccoli sprouts contain up to 50 times the sulphoraphane of raw broccoli, a potent phytonutrient that helps detoxification.
Detoxification for healthy ageing
Undergoing a detox program not only eliminates toxic material from our bodies, it neutralises free radicals that cause cellular damage and ageing. I see doing a detox like taking your car in for a service, allowing internal processes to be cleaned and re-set for continued (or better) performance. Healthy ageing is all about staying healthy as you move through your life. Degenerative illness can be avoided by looking after yourself by providing your body with nutrient-rich foods and minimising your toxic burden. Undergoing a detox program whilst enjoying delicious, healthy foods is the perfect way to do just that.
Article by Jo Rowkins, nutritional therapist and founder of Awakening Health.