Christina Carreau BA, ND
As many of you know, I am a big believer in detoxification. I think that it is important to step back from our routine a few times each year to pay respect to our internal organs and focus on cleaning out accumulated wastes and unwanted toxins that can build up over time. This is a preventative measure to keep our bodies functioning optimally. Detoxes can be intense and often feel quite extreme but they are a wonderful investment in your overall health and a great way to bring awareness to our diet and eating patterns. But outside of these extreme detoxes or cleanses there are ways for you to promote detoxification without too much effort.
Detoxification is something that our body does naturally on a daily basis. The four main routes of elimination are the skin, intestines, kidneys and lungs. Illness often occurs when the rate at which toxins accumulate is greater than the rate at which they are eliminated. Some of the main nutrients involved in the process of liver detoxification are B Vitamins, Vitamin C, glutathione, magnesium, methionine, cysteine, glycine and glutamine. . So give your body some extra support by including some of these super foods into your diet, which will enhance some of those pathways of elimination. Here is a list of 8 detoxifying foods for you to incorporate into your diet on a more regular basis.
1) Beets are rich in antioxidants, they are anti-inflammatory and contain a number of nutrients that have been shown to be cleansing and detoxifying to the liver. They are high in betaine, which helps the cells of the liver eliminate toxins. They also contain fibre, which bind toxins that have been removed from the liver to help flush them from your body.
2) Dandelion Greens are also potent anti-oxidants. They are a rich source of calcium, iron, potassium and Vitamin C. They are bitter in nature and therefore stimulate a healthy appetite and promote optimal digestion. They are also diuretic in nature thereby stimulating excretion of toxins via urine.
3) Garlic is an amazing food with so many healing properties. It is rich in Vitamin C, B6, manganese and selenium and sulphur containing compounds (namely allicin, which are responsible for the majority of its health benefits. Garlic has been shown to help regulate blood pressure and cholesterol levels and is known for its antimicrobial and anti-cancer properties. Sulphur is found in high quantities in garlic, which makes it a good detox food. Our liver adds sulphur molecules to toxins to make those toxins fat or water-soluble so that we can excrete them from our body. Bottom line is ‘a clove a day keeps the doctor away’.
4) Broccoli is a great source of vitamins B5, B6, B9, C and K, it is high in fiber and is also rich in chromium, magnesium and calcium. It is one of the most nutrient dense vegetables and therefore has a long list of therapeutic benefits. It is known for its anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. The beneficial phytochemicals in broccoli are sulphorophanes, indole-3-carbinol and D-glucarate, which enhance one of the pathways of liver detoxification. While broccoli is a great detox food, broccoli sprouts are even better because they contain 20 times more sulfurophane.
5) Lemons are a great source of vitamin C. They are also rich in calcium, magnesium, bioflavonoids and pectin. While acidic in taste they are very alkalinizing to our bodies overall pH. Some of the health benefits of lemons include reducing inflammation, stimulating digestion, strengthening the immune system and liver detoxification. Kick start your digestive tract and your day with a glass of warm lemon water to reap all of these amazing health benefits.
6) Collard Greens are another very nutrient dense vegetable and a rich source of Vitamin K, A, C, manganese, calcium and fiber. They support both phases of liver detoxification. (Phase 1 – getting toxins out of cells and into circulation and Phase 2 -binding toxins and making them fat soluble or water soluble so that they can be flushed from the system). They have anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, cardio-protective and digestion enhancing properties. They don’t get nearly as much hype as kale but these are well worth incorporating into your diet and they serve as a great replacement for a tortilla. Ditch the gluten and use a collard greens to make your sandwich instead.
7) Seaweed is an amazing detox food. It contains the broadest range of minerals found in any food (approximately 10 to 20 times more than in vegetables). It is a great source of iodine, which many of us are deficient in. Iodine deficiency is often linked to weight gain and slow metabolism due to its effect on thyroid function. Sodium alginate found in seaweeds absorbs toxins from the digestive tract and is capable of binding heavy metals, thereby allowing them to be flushed from our system. Green seaweed contains chlorophyll, which is a potent detoxifier and helps bind to and remove numerous unwanted substances from our bodies, promoting liver detoxification. So if you haven’t already jumped on the seaweed wagon…it is time.
8) Avocados are an excellent source of healthy fats, potassium, fiber and vitamins B5, B6, B9 and K. They help the body produce glutathione, which has been referred to as the ‘master anti-oxidant’. Glutathione is important for detoxification, for controlling inflammation and keeping your immune system healthy. As with many of the other foods listed above avocados have a long list of therapeutic benefits. They are known for their anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, cardio-protective and blood sugar regulating properties. They are also quite filling and have been shown to be effective in weight management. Get your guacamole on!
While there are numerous other foods that are beneficial when it comes to detoxification, I will leave it here and let you focus on these super foods for the time being. Now you can go and prepare yourself a collard green wrap with shredded beets, dandelion greens, broccoli and seaweed and smother it in a lemon, garlic guacamole to get this detox started.
As I always say, knowledge is power. You don’t have to be extreme with your health to see results. Small changes today, turn into big changes over time. Be kind to your body and your body will be kind to you.