Detoxification is a common heard term lately for helping to balance the body and reset all the systems. Everything from pills to drinks, to full month, or longer programs that are not cheap! Why not let food be your medicine and pass on any programs that aren't even regulated by the FDA due to their Nutritional Supplement status. No need to spend unnecessary money on products that may not even work, and in some cases, could be harmful to your health.
True detoxification of your gut, liver, and kidneys means all are working in harmony to purify your body and your blood. Many things we eat and drink can create sluggishness in any one of these systems. Natural and healthy detoxification keeps things running like a well-oiled machine. Your gut being healthy is essential for optimum immune function. Your liver being healthy is essential for removing toxins out of the body and balancing hormones and sugar levels in the blood. The kidneys help flush toxins from the body and purify the blood. If any one of these is not running efficiently it can cause the other systems to become sluggish and have trouble keeping up at optimum levels. This can leave you feeling groggy, tired, depressed, and in some cases, downright sick.
There are some that believe the best way to detox is through juicing, or water fasts, but we think the best way to detox is through the food and drinks you eat, food and drink can work either for or against detoxification. The first few things you need to remove from your cabinets and take off your grocery list are processed foods, refined sugars, artificial sweeteners, full fat dairy, alcohol, white flour, and gluten products. Give yourself at least two weeks without these products. If you can aim for one month free of them, you may find you no longer crave the things you once did as your body becomes adjusted to not having them on a regular basis.
The following foods, drinks and ingredients are all especially beneficial to your gut, liver and kidneys. Find new ways to cook with them, different recipes to try that include them, add as many of the following foods to your diet over the next month. If you fall off the wagon one day, don't beat yourself up, just start each day with a commitment for healthy detoxification.
- Lemons – Lemons are a great way to start your morning. Begin each day with a warm or cold cup or so of lemon water. Lemons are not only full of vitamin C, but they help wake up your organs by converting toxins into a water soluble form, helping the kidneys easily excrete them. The water helps you hydrate, in fact you should be drinking several glasses of water, with or without lemon, several times a day.
- Beets – High in B vitamins, iron, magnesium, zinc, and calcium. Beets are especially good for the gallbladder and liver health. There is new research that shows beets are excellent for your heart as well.
- Dandelion greens and other greens – Look beyond iceberg lettuce, we're talking dark green or purple leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, arugula, swish chard and cabbage. Try different types in a salad, add them to soups and stews, you might discover a vegetable you like that you've never tried before. Leafy vegetables are high in vitamin C, calcium, and are healthy for your liver as well as the digestive process of the gut.
- Artichokes – These incredible little vegetables increase bile production helping the digestive system, they are equally adept at helping the liver to detoxify. A great way to cook artichokes is to cut off the top and all the sharp edges of each leaf, then turn upside down in a steamer with a few slices of lemon in the water. Check doneness by poking the stem with a fork. When it gives easily, your artichoke should be cooked through. Rub your teeth along the lower section of each leaf removing them as you go until you get to the glorious heart. Then enjoy that part too! You can find canned or jarred artichoke hearts, but skip the marinated variety; they are full of oil and fat. Fresh is best though, some brands of canned artichoke hearts come full of unnecessary sodium.
- Apples – The old saying "an apple a day keeps the doctor away" holds some truth. Apples are full of fiber, essential vitamins and minerals. Add pears to the mix too for excellent fiber, they are beautifully in season this time of year as well. Be sure to purchase organic apples and pears as they are big offenders for pesticides when not purchased organically. Look for a 9 in front of the product code; this indicates the product is organic.
- Gluten free grains – Quinoa is a more commonly heard of gluten free grain, but there are also Amaranth, Millet, Teff, and Buckwheat. These gluten free grains are an excellent source of low fat fiber. Fiber acts as vacuum, ridding your digestive system of toxins.
- Garlic – Antiviral, antiseptic, and antibiotic, excellent for your heart, what more can you ask for in a detox food!?
- Turmeric – Excellent for the reduction of inflammation in the body. In fact, some cultures that consume turmeric on most days have lower levels of Alzheimer's and dementia. Turmeric can be sprinkled in soups and other dishes as well as juiced from its natural state. You can get turmeric from various teas that can be found on the internet, or in your local health food store.
- Ginger – Also excellent as an inflammation reducer. Ginger helps regulate blood sugar as well. Ginger is a perfect compliment to Asian dishes, mayo-free coleslaws, and soups. Ginger also makes a delicious warming tea; you can find combination ginger and turmeric tea online for a big anti-inflammatory punch.
- Omega 3's – Another anti-inflammatory powerhouse, and super healthy for your skin and heart. Great sources of Omega 3's include avocado, flax seed, sustainably caught and not farm raised fatty variety of fish like salmon. Or you can venture into the fascinating, and super healthy little seed we recently wrote about, the Chia seed.
- Hot peppers – Hot peppers help speed up metabolism and they are full of vitamin C. If you can't stomach eating a habanero, jalapeno, or cayenne pepper, try sprinkling a little cayenne powder in your lemon water. Perfect to warm you on cold mornings.
- Protein sources – Stick with low fat cuts of organic meat, like turkey or chicken. Beans and organic soy products can also be a healthy source of protein. If you enjoy eggs, have an egg scramble with one yolk, and the rest egg whites. Add a healthy dose of fiber rich vegetables like broccoli, spinach, or sautéed mushrooms. Keep your protein intake the size of the palm of your hand per meal, and load up on fiber rich veggies.
- Green tea – If you must have caffeine, drink green tea. Green tea is full of antioxidants that are especially helpful for the liver. Try to keep it to two cups a day or less for the length of your cleanse.
- Probiotics – Although there are many commercially available pill forms of probiotics these days, we always prefer food sources as opposed to supplementation sources. Prebiotic foods work in unison with probiotic foods to help the digestive system stay regulated. Good food sources of pre and probiotics are no-sugar kefir (you can add some fruit for flavor), sauerkraut (be sure to rinse if the sodium level is high), organic soy products, kimchee and olives. Again be sure to check sodium levels, these products can often be manufactured with too much sodium. Onions, leeks, bananas and asparagus are also good for digestive health. Asparagus is excellent for cleansing the kidneys as well.
In addition, find ways to add more colorful vegetables to your diet; the more color in your vegetables, the more antioxidants you are getting! Try to get at least 30 minutes of moderate to intense exercise most days of the week. Be sure to stretch afterwards, stretching helps release lactic acids in the muscles and helps keep muscles and joints flexible. A good stretch after a great workout can feel amazing!
We aren't promising it will be easy, but we think your body, mind, skin and overall feeling will be much better after a naturally-based detox. Be sure to check with your doctor before trying any new program. Some medications can react with natural detoxifiers so you'll want to check with your doctor before taking those as well.
Let's get healthy together!
Bonnie and Tanya