You no longer need to buy fancy detox products that promise to rid you of all the toxins you’ve been exposed to during your life. Why? Because even though most of us deal with toxic overload at some point in our lives, we’re always going to be exposed to more toxins, many of which we can’t avoid. Exposure can occur as a result of emotional struggles, which can truly lead to toxic buildup. We are also exposed to chemicals in the air and in our homes, and even in our foods if we’re not careful.
What we can do is regularly eat foods that provide detox benefits for the body. These work better than supplements and pills because they provide whole-food sources of nutrition. Simply stock up your kitchen with cleansing whole foods!
Some signs you need to detox
First, before we explore the foods that support a natural detox, let’s look at some common signs that indicate you might need a gentle reboot. Symptoms and signs vary from person to person depending on lifestyle, diet, food intolerances, allergies, and/or preexisting health conditions. However, many signs are easy to spot.
Look out for these symptoms:
- Consistent phlegm production after eating
- Regular bouts of constipation or feeling sluggish and extremely full after eating (a sign of constipation)
- IBS and several food intolerances
- Cravings for sugary foods
- Regular skin issues (breakouts, rashes, hives, dullness and dryness)
- Low energy even after a full night’s rest
- Poor digestion during most meals
People who eat a highly processed diet normally experience these the most, but even healthy eaters can experience these symptoms. It often has to do with a sluggish liver, food intolerances, or a sluggish digestive tract. Whatever the cause, it is no fun!
Begin to remove the following foods from your diet before you add any in. This will eliminate any food allergens (even if you feel you tolerate them), which will give your system a chance to regain balance and receive proper nutrition to heal and reset itself.
- Dairy (butter, ghee, yogurt, sour cream, milk, cream cheese, cheese)
- Red meat
- Wheat and gluten
- Most grains (quinoa and amaranth are good replacements to regular grains since they are seeds that are usually digestion-friendly)
- All grain products (bread, rolls, cookies, crackers, etc.)
- All sources of added sugars
- Caffeine (green tea is fine since it is low in caffeine and very healing)
Removing these foods will automatically provide a rest for the body. This will allow you to give optimal nutrition to your system when it needs it most, and you’ll feel much better as a result. You’ll also need to begin managing your stress however possible; detox will not happen if you are consistently stressed out. Your body needs to rest for optimal nutrient absorption and cleansing.
Foods that are easier to digest during a detox:
- Wild fish (if desired)
- Fruits (minimize these if you suffer from gas and bloating after eating them)
- Organic sources of poultry (if desired)
- Legumes if you are vegetarian or vegan (for protein)
- Quinoa and amaranth if desired
- Raw nuts (as tolerated)
- Coconut and coconut products (flour, oil, shreds, butter)
- Olives and olive oil
- Fermented vegetables (sauerkraut, kimchi)
- Coconut yogurt and coconut water kefir
- Liquid stevia (alcohol-free) in moderation only
- Herbal teas
- Green tea
Now that you have healthy food options to build your menus, be sure to add in some especially detoxifying whole foods.
Here are 12 of the best foods for a powerful, natural detox:
These water-rich fruits (yes, cucumbers are a fruit) are amazing for detox. Cucumbers flush wastes from the body since they are high in water, potassium and vitamin C. They’re also a great source of minerals, such as silica, which provide beauty benefits for the skin, hair and nails. Cucumbers can improve digestive and liver function quite quickly. Be sure to purchase organic cucumbers since they are a heavily sprayed crop.
Parsley is a great herb for detoxing because it is high in vitamin C. It helps to flush toxins from the body and provides balance to the internal organs. Use fresh parsley and buy organic whenever possible.
Like parsley, cilantro is amazing for a detox. It’s particularly great for the liver and it helps to cleanse the blood. Cilantro and parsley are both good sources of chlorophyll. Here’s a tip: try using cilantro and parsley greens (stems removed) in your salads with your other mixed greens.
Beets are also a great cleanser, especially for the liver and blood. They can help stimulate red blood cell function, which can improve energy levels. Best of all, beets help flush out the digestive tract, and since they are a root vegetable with grounding properties, they also help calm the nervous system. Roast them like you would potatoes — they’re delicious when they caramelize!
Ginger is a phenomenal liver-stimulating root that also clears mucus, phlegm, waste buildup, and inflammation from the body. It has a warming effect that improves digestive health. Slice pieces of the root into stir-fries for a Thai flavor, or you can add slices to tea and even smoothies if you like.
A spice we all love to love, adding turmeric to your recipes is an easy way to detox. Simply add turmeric to some vegetables — asparagus, green beans, zucchini slices, sweet potatoes, and spaghetti squash all pair well with turmeric. Try sprinkling turmeric on onions, garlic and mushrooms in a veggie skillet dish.
Pineapple is one of the healthiest fruits you can eat because it helps to break down toxins in the body. It’s also very low in calories and sugar per cup. This makes it easy on your liver and blood sugar. Pineapple can help ease nausea and constipation, and it assists in clearing mucus from the body. Enjoy half a cup for breakfast or dessert at night, or feel free to add a slice or two to a smoothie.
Sauerkraut is full of probiotics. It is easy to digest, helps relieve constipation and sluggishness, and boosts overall liver function. The cabbage that sauerkraut is made from is rich in B vitamins and natural enzymes. This helps with the digestion of proteins and can help break down toxins for removal from the body. Just be sure to buy refrigerated live sauerkraut; many products on the shelf do not contain the live bacteria that make sauerkraut so healthy.
Flax is one of the easiest sources of fiber to digest and one of the most effective for regulating the digestive system. It’s also high in healthy fats that stimulate digestion, and all of its carbohydrates come from fiber, which means it is extremely blood-sugar friendly. Enjoy a little ground flax seed on your dishes — it adds a nice nutty flavor. It’s also great in smoothies. A couple of teaspoons a day should do the trick!
Artichokes are another great liver-boosting food, and they can also help ease constipation. If you don’t like to cook whole artichokes, just buy canned artichokes that come in water (not oil) and purchase BPA-free cans to avoid toxins. Artichokes contain fiber and prebiotics that stimulate the growth of healthy gut bacteria. You can add artichoke hearts to salads and soups. You can also grill or roast them for a flavorful side dish that only takes a few minutes to make!
Raw Brazil nuts are high in the mineral selenium, which is an important mineral needed for detoxification. Selenium improves thyroid function and overall healthy digestion. One Brazil nut contains your entire day’s worth of selenium; enjoy one per day as a way to stabilize blood sugar between meals or add a couple to a recipe of your choice.
Kale is a fantastic green for detox, and is very popular for this reason. It is high in chlorophyll, iron, and vitamins A, C and K. Choose either curly or dino (Lacinato) kale and cook as you prefer. If you don’t enjoy kale, feel free to use spinach or Swiss chard as great alternatives (or in addition to kale).
Other foods that are fantastic for detox: broccoli, cauliflower, squash, sweet potatoes, garlic, onions, berries, green apples, lemons, watercress, pumpkin, and spices, such as cinnamon, cardamom, coriander and oregano.
Remember that the best detox foods come from vegetables, greens, roots, seeds and herbs, so prioritize these foods in your meals. When purchasing animal proteins, always buy the best options available to avoid hormones, antibiotics, GMOs and harmful chemicals.
You can combine these foods in a variety of ways throughout the day. For example, make a skillet dish with kale, onions, garlic, artichokes and turmeric. Top with diced Brazil nuts for a crunchy topping and pair with your favorite clean protein, like wild fish — or use quinoa if you’re vegetarian or vegan. If you’re a raw eater, enjoy some pineapple for breakfast and have a green juice made of cucumber, parsley, beets and kale — and eat some Brazil nuts a half hour later. For a hearty stew, mix organic canned artichokes with pumpkin, squash, kale, onions and garlic. Have some sauerkraut on the side to aid digestion. Get the idea?
Also, be sure to check out some of our other tips for cleansing and detox so you can have the most enjoyable detox ever! What are some ways you can begin adding more of these detox foods to your diet?
—The Alternative Daily