The necessity for detoxification or detox comes from the concern that toxins are constantly bombarding and accumulating in our bodies. Toxins are chemicals with potentially harmful effects. While some toxins are more obvious, such as pesticides or environmental impurities, others are by-products of processed foods and some are even produced by the body but not effectively expelled.
I am sure you are familiar with the many detox diets that eliminate certain foods, many basics as well as those deemed as ‘unhealthy’ or causing toxic build-up. Foods are then gradually re-introduced, whilst it is recommended you stay away from the particularly deleterious offenders. Symptoms often improve with such a protocol, but there is no evidence that this is due to clearing toxins from the body. Instead, improvements may result from the over-all improvement in the ‘real food’ component of daily nourishment. Weight loss is often due to fluid loss and muscle wastage and is quickly regained after a short period of time. Long term adherence to very restrictive detox protocols may also cause some serious harm.
Whole, real, natural foods work better at supporting your body’s own detoxification pathways than any restrictive plan.
The liver is your strongest detoxification organ. It removes toxins present in the bloodstream, triggers and supports healthy digestive function through bile production and distributes nutrients from the foods you consume.
I am a fan of adding in foods that support the natural functions of the body, crowding out some of the less optimal choices and creating an environment where your body can function at its best. Here are some of my favourite foods to support liver function and the detoxification pathways of the body. You can add these to your current eating protocol if not already included:
Apples contain large amounts of pectin and other chemicals which are essential to cleanse and release toxins from the digestive tract. They assist the liver in dealing with the toxic load during the cleansing process.
Asparagus help the cleansing process and share the detox load of the liver and kidneys through their diuretic properties.
The nutrient-dense super-food, avocado helps the body produce glutathione, a compound that is necessary for the liver to cleanse harmful toxins.
Beets and Carrots
Carrots are rich in glutathione, a protein that helps detoxify the liver. Both are extremely high in plant-flavonoids and beta-carotene and can help stimulate and improve overall liver function.
Eating cabbage, Brussels Sprouts, kohlrabi, broccoli and cauliflower contain sulphur and will increase the production of the enzyme glucosinolate. This will assist in flushing out carcinogens and other toxins as well as block the damage from other environmental and dietary toxic substances.
Lemons and limes contain very high amounts of vitamin C. This powerful anti-oxidant stimulates the liver and aids in the synthesizing of toxic materials into substances that can be absorbed by water and thus easily passed through the body.
Dandelion root tea assists the liver in breaking down fats, producing amino acids and generally ridding it off toxins. Dandelion greens have similar liver-supporting properties.
The lecithin found in organic, free run eggs emulsifies fats and improves digestion. The yolks particularly support liver function, reduce the chance of cholesterol-clogged arteries and prevent the formation of kidney and gallstones. It also serves as a source of choline and inositol, which support proper nerve transmission and brain function. Eggs are one of the few sources of these nutrients in our diets.
Garlic is loaded with sulfur compounds that activate liver enzymes that help your body flush out toxins. Garlic also holds high amounts of allicin and selenium, two natural compounds that aid in liver cleansing.
A further source of the liver cleansing enzyme glutathione is grapefruit. They are also rich in vitamin C and other antioxidants, boost production of the liver detoxification enzymes and increase the natural cleansing processes that help flush out carcinogens and other toxins of the liver.
Green tea is full of phyto-chemicals known as catechins, a compound known to assist liver function
Leafy Green Vegetables
All leafy greens (the darker the better) are extremely high in plant chlorophylls. These are important for absorbing environmental toxins, increasing bile production, neutralizing heavy metals, chemicals and pesticides and lowering the overall burden on the liver.
Organic, Cold-Pressed Oils
Cold-pressed organic oils such as olive, hemp and flax-seed are great support for the liver, providing the body with a lipid base that can suck up harmful toxins in the body. The cold-pressing process does not destroy the delicate bonds between the lipid molecules and keeps the fats in their nutrient dense, non-toxic form.
Tomatoes are abundant in glutathione, the great liver detoxifier. Furthermore, as an added bonus, the lycopene in tomatoes has been shown to protect against the development of certain cancers.
A powerful anti-inflammatory, turmeric is the one of the preferred spices to help boost liver detoxification by assisting enzymes that actively flushes out dietary carcinogens.
Walnuts are a good source of glutathione, omega-3 fatty acids, and the amino acid arginine, which support the normal liver cleansing actions, especially in detoxifying ammonia.
Do you have any unique ways to add these foods into your diet? I would love to hear your ideas.
If you are stuck on how to incorporate some of the foods less familiar to you, contact me, I can help you plan an eating program to effectively support your body in keeping itself on top of the detoxification load.