It’s that time of year that you’ve probably been eating more sugar and drinking more alcohol and caffeine. It’s important to support your body nutritionally. Whether you’re finishing the year out with a cleanse or just want to offset some of the holiday indulgences here is some guidance.
Don’t worry; this isn’t about fasting or a juice cleanse. It’s about the best foods to be eating to promote detoxification and cleansing. If you haven’t noticed, detox and cleanse are buzz words in health and wellness right now. However, most people don’t know what they actually mean or why they are essential.
The process of detoxification is a series of biochemical reactions that deactivates toxins and eliminates them from the body through the organs of detoxification. Cleansing uses diet and lifestyle techniques to increase detoxification to improve elimination (aka cleansing) of toxins from the body.
The biochemical processes of detoxification require a diet rich in antioxidants, amino acids (protein building blocks) and fiber. Juice cleanses have become increasingly popular; however, a juice cleanse doesn’t increase detoxification, due to its lack of amino acids and fiber.
Sure - juice cleansing has some upsides. It gives the body a break from ingesting dietary toxins, increases phytonutrient intake and gives the digestive system a rest. But the best way to promote detoxification through diet is 1) to decrease dietary intake of toxins and 2) to eat and drink foods rich in nutrients, amino acids and fibers that promote your body’s detoxification processes.
Here are seven things I recommend incorporating into your diet regularly to promote detoxification:
Broccoli sprouts are rich in a compound called sulforaphane which is a potent phase 2 liver detoxifier. Broccoli sprouts contain 20-50 times the amount of protective compounds found in broccoli.
How to incorporate: sprinkle on salads and just about any dish that needs a little color. Even if you don’t like broccoli, you won’t mind their mild flavor.
Chia seeds two tablespoons of chia seeds (1 ounce) contains 11 grams of fiber. The majority of fiber in chia seeds is soluble fiber, which is the type that helps to bind and clear toxins from the body. Fiber is essential for maintaining a healthy microbiome which also aids detox.
How to incorporate: make chia seed pudding by soaking 3 tablespoons of chia seeds with 1 cup of unsweetened nut milk such as coconut or almond. Let soak for as little as 30 minutes or overnight in the fridge. Top with cinnamon, a sprinkle of turmeric and berries.
Artichokes have long been used in herbal medicine to protect and restore the liver. They are also bitter which stimulates bile release. Bile acids are necessary to emulsify fat and remove fat-soluble toxins from the body. They are also rich in antioxidants and fiber.
How to incorporate: add artichoke hearts to a salad or have a steamed artichoke as an appetizer with dinner.
Bitter greens including arugula, dandelion, kale, radicchio, endive - Again the bitter taste stimulates the release of bile and elimination of toxins.
How to incorporate: use these greens when you’re making a salad.
Turmeric stimulates liver detox and bile excretion and has potent antioxidant activity.
How to incorporate: keep it alongside your salt and pepper shakers and use it to spice just about everything. I use it in soup, tacos, smoothies, veggies, meat and even add a dash to chia seed pudding.
Green tea increases phase 2 liver detox and is an incredible source of antioxidants.
How to incorporate: swap out your morning coffee for a matcha latte or cup of green tea.
Bone broth is rich in amino acids. It’s especially rich in the amino acids glycine and glutamine. Glycine increases the liver antioxidant glutathione, and glutamine nurtures the gut.
How to incorporate: use it as a base for soups or sip it like tea.
To learn more about cleansing and detoxification read my past articles here.