Try incorporating as many of these cleansing foods and herbs as possible into your diet for 1-2 weeks — aiming for the recommended serving size each time. You should start feeling cleaner in five days! The more foods you eat, the better the results.
Similar to other bitters, radishes help increase the flow of bile, helping to maintain a healthy gallbladder and liver and improve the digestive process. It’s why you see “Daikon radish served pickled with a Japanese meal — it’s to cleanse the pallet and aid in the digestion of the meal,” says Katherine Matutina, certified natural foods chef and massage therapist based in Los Angeles, Calif. Add half a cup of thinly sliced radishes to your favorite salad greens for an added crunch or dip them in hummus as a healthy snack.
Traditional Indian and Chinese cultures have valued this ginger-like root for its medicinal properties and recent studies have confirmed its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects in the body, and its ability to assist the liver in the proper detoxification of harmful compounds. Antioxidants play a role in combating the cell damage that can accumulate with age. “The goal of a detoxification program should be to support the organs of elimination (liver being just one of them) as well as provide the body with a variety of antioxidants from nourishing foods to counter any free-radical damage that has done insult to our cells”, says Ashley Paulson, wellness coach and yoga instructor based in Burlingame, Calif. One tablespoon of powder is all you need.
Many underestimate the ability of the lemon to support healthy digestion and elimination. Some herbalists and nutritionists suspect that it’s the tart taste of lemon that promotes bile flow to aid in the digestive process. The peels of both lemons and limes also act as an antioxidant thought to support detoxification. Easy ways to incorporate this citrusy treat: Add some fresh-squeezed lemon juice to water or throw in some zest to your cooking. You could probably sneak in a few fresh-squeezed lemons a day.
Did you know the seed of the cilantro plant is known as coriander? It’s a two-for-one: Both parts of the plant possess health-promoting qualities. While the seed can aid in digestion and help maintain normal cholesterol levels, the leaves are known to aid in the detoxification of certain heavy metals (like mercury and lead) that can accumulate in the body. Throw a handful of cilantro into salads and shakes or onto entrees as garnish.
This fermented cabbage provides a beneficial dose of “good” bacteria also referred to asprobiotics. Probiotics are especially important in supporting a healthy digestive tract. “Our intestines house trillions of bacteria which play a role in not only digestion, but also supporting immunity. Without these beneficial flora our digestive processes may be compromised and gas, bloating, and/or constipation could result. Constipation can lead to a build-up of toxic wastes in the intestines and bloodstream, possibly increasing one’s risk for cancer,” says Paulson. Adding just a half cup of fermented foods such as sauerkraut to your diet will ensure your intestines are armed with probiotics to support optimal digestion and elimination.
You’ve heard about how garlic boosts immunity and protects the heart, but its sulfur-containing compounds also play a role in supporting detoxification. Your liver is usually in charge of neutralizing toxins with sulfur until it’s excreted (in a process called sulfation). Adding more sulfur-rich foods like garlic to your diet will enhance this process. Aim for two to three cloves per meal. And remember to carry gum.
The edible portions (base of the outer leaves and the heart) have long been eaten to support liver health. In his book, The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods, Michael Murray states that artichokes “have a choleretic effect, meaning they promote the flow of bile and fat to and from the liver.” The role of bile is to emulsify fats and carry toxins and waste from the liver into the small intestine. Try adding one medium artichoke to your next salad. They also make a great snack or appetizer.
Packed full of nutrients that can help facilitate internal cleansing, this little seed is particularly loaded with fiber, a nutrient that most healthcare practitioners would argue is essential to fending off many diseases. And flaxseeds contain both soluble and insoluble fiber which can help facilitate healthy bowel movements and prevent the reabsorption of cholesterol from the colon. Try adding a few tablespoons to your morning smoothie, yogurt or oatmeal.
Apples are a healthy fruit to consume year-round, but especially beneficial during a cleansing diet. “They are full of fiber, and especially pectin, a type of fiber that can help promote regularity helping to cleanse the intestinal tract, ridding it of any accumulated toxins and food particles that may remain undigested. It is important to consume a wide array of fibers in the diet to help with daily cleansing and elimination,” says Matutina. You know what they say, an apple a day…
These earthy roots, whether enjoyed roasted, steamed or boiled, contain plant pigments that are believed to have antioxidant and liver-supporting abilities. While the beetroot may be the most commonly consumed part of the plant, the greens of the beet also pack a nutritional punch of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Consider juicing the greens — instead of tossing them — for extra added detox benefits. A half cup of beets or one cup of greens in your juice or smoothie should do the trick.
This member of the crucifer family is touted as being among the healthiest foods to consume by many nutritionists. When crucifers are digested it releases a nutrient that is known to possess properties that help detoxify the “bad” estrogens that accumulate in the body. “Too much of the so-called bad estrogens and not enough of the good ones could lead to some major health issues, including weight gain, PMS and possibly cancer,” says Paulson. So, eat your broccoli — at least one cup per day!
Think of this vegetable as a natural water pill, complete with dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals and free-radical fighting and liver-protecting antioxidants. “Flushing out excess water and sodium can be beneficial during a short-term cleansing regime,” says Matutina. A half cup cooked asparagus will do you good.
They are bitter in taste and, for some individuals, hard to stomach, but it’s the bitterness that makes it a must-have food for any cleanse and detox program. “Generally speaking, the bitter foods that many shy away from are the ones that are supportive to our gallbladder and liver. Dandelion has been shown to help get bile moving, aiding in digestion and nourishing these organs,” says Paulson. Try sautéing one cup of greens with garlic for enhanced cleansing support.
The actual root may be difficult to find in your local grocery store, but you can usually find it in tea form at health food stores. Traditionally, burdock root has been used to remove toxins in the blood and improve the complexion of the skin. It also contains many micronutrients, some of them possessing antioxidant qualities, making it an ideal food for cleansing. If you can find it, try adding half a cup to soup. They are also quite nice roasted.
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