One of the biggest buzz words we see is “Detox.” If you walk through a health food, nutritional supplement, or fancy ‘cold-pressed juice’ store, the term is used to sell almost every product on the shelf.
But What Exactly is a “detox”?
For most people, “detox” refers to a way to quickly lose weight by flushing out your body. This is often done with high fibre, low calorie, low protein, high water drink cleanses. When we refer to foods that help to “detox” or “detoxify” your body, we are referring to foods that help flush your body of harmful chemicals and substances.
Why is this Good?
Our bodies are naturally absorbing dangerous chemicals and substances from the environment, the air, the food that we eat or even the water that we drink. Over time, these chemicals and heavy metals get into our blood stream, our lungs, our organs, and can severely affect the brain and the nervous system.
If you consume foods that naturally aid detoxification of your body by purifying the blood, reducing inflammation of arteries and blood vessels thereby encouraging clean filtered blood to pass through organs with ease (helping oxygenate your brain and organs), foods that are high in fibre that help expel toxins from the bowel, or foods that act as diuretics (make you urinate) to help flush heavy metals from the body, you can help minimize the potential dangers of these common environmental toxins.
In short, foods that help to detoxify your body can help minimize the risk of disease, help your immune system function better (keep you from getting sick), lose or manage weight, keep you looking and feeling young, help you focus mentally and emotionally and balance your systems (digestive, nervous, hormonal).
Apply the Knowledge:
In our world, “detox” foods are not meant to be eaten every few months with the goal of losing 10 pounds in a few days. They are most successful when you incorporate them into your daily diet and make them part of your lifestyle. There are so many foods that are excellent for detoxifying and purifying your body that everyone can do it!
Here is a list* from care2.com of common “detox” superfoods and how they will help bring balance to your system. Not surprised to see that many of our #SuperfoodSunday features have made the list.
- High in fiber, calcium, magnesium, and useable protein that helps stabilize blood sugar and remove impurities from the bowels.
- Lower cholesterol and dilate blood vessels while blocking artery-destroying toxicity. Avocados contain a nutrient called glutathione, which blocks at least 30 different carcinogens while helping the liver detoxify synthetic chemicals. Researchers at the University of Michigan found that elderly people who had high levels of glutathione were healthier and less likely to suffer from arthritis.
- Beets (try our Crispy Beet Chips)
- Contain a unique mixture of natural plant chemicals (phytochemicals) and minerals that make them superb fighters of infection, blood purifiers, and liver cleansers. They also help boost the body’s cellular intake of oxygen, making beets excellent overall body cleansers. Aphrodite, according to legend, ate beets to retain her beauty. She was definitely on to a good thing since beets, in addition to all the benefits listed above, also help stabilize the blood’s acid-alkaline balance (pH), which in turn supports healthy detoxification.
- Contain natural aspirin that helps lessen the tissue-damaging effects of chronic inflammation, while lessening pain. Blueberries also act as antibiotics by blocking bacteria in the urinary tract, thereby helping to prevent infections. They have antiviral properties and are loaded with super-detoxifying phytonutrients called proanthocyanidins.
- Contains numerous anti-cancer and antioxidant compounds and helps the liver break down excess hormones. Cabbage also cleanses the digestive tract and soothes the stomach, which could in part be due to its antibacterial and antiviral properties. Cruciferous vegetables like cabbage (kale is another excellent choice—see below) demonstrate powerful detoxification activity, including neutralizing some of the damaging compounds found in cigarette smoke (and second-hand smoke). They also contain a compound that helps the liver produce adequate amounts of enzymes for detoxification.
- Have powerful antibiotic and antiviral substances to help the body cleanse harmful bacteria and viruses from the urinary tract.
- Flaxseeds and Flaxseed Oil
- Loaded with essential fatty acids, particularly the omega-3s. They are essential for many cleansing functions and maintaining a healthy immune system. They are also critical to maintaining a healthy brain. The health of every cell in your body is dependent on getting adequate amounts of essential fatty acids.
- Garlic (learn more about its super powers in our #SuperfoodSunday blog)
- Helps cleanse harmful bacteria, intestinal parasites, and viruses from the body, especially from the blood and intestines. It also helps cleanse buildup from the arteries and lowers blood pressure. Garlic has anti-cancer and antioxidant properties that help detoxify the body of harmful substances. It also helps cleanse the respiratory tract by expelling mucous buildup in the lungs and sinuses. I am referring to fresh garlic, not garlic powder, which has virtually none of the above properties.
- Kale (try our Crispy Kale Chips)
- Contains powerful anti-cancer and antioxidant compounds that help cleanse the body of harmful substances. It is also high in fiber, which helps cleanse the intestinal tract. Like cabbage, kale helps neutralize compounds found in cigarette smoke and contains a substance that jump-starts the liver’s production of cleansing enzymes.
- Legumes (learn more about lentils in our #SuperfoodSunday blog)
- Loaded with fiber that helps lower cholesterol, cleanse the intestines, and regulate blood sugar levels. Legumes also help protect the body against cancer.
- Superb liver detoxifiers. In addition, they contain high amounts of vitamin C, a vitamin needed by the body to make a substance called glutathione. Glutathione helps ensure that phase 2 liver detoxification keeps pace with phase 1, thereby reducing the likelihood of negative effects from environmental chemicals. Vitamin C and other antioxidants found in lemons are integral to ward off cancer, fight the effects of pollution and cell damage. Fresh lemon juice contains more than 20 anti-cancer compounds and helps balance the body’s pH levels.
- Seaweed (find out more about Sea Vegetables in our #SuperfoodSunday blog)
- Could be the most underrated vegetable in the Western world. Studies at McGill University in Montreal showed that seaweeds bind to radioactive waste in the body so it can be removed. Radioactive waste can find its way into the body through some medical tests or through food that has been grown where water or soil is contaminated. Seaweed also binds to heavy metals to help eliminate them from the body. In addition, it is a powerhouse of minerals and trace minerals.