Natural detoxification! You hear this word, detox everywhere.What does it mean? Air pollution and chemicals in food that we eat are very dangerous for our body. We buy and consume food and don’t care what we put in our organism.The same effect have cosmetics and household cleaners.
Among their potentially adverse effects, these chemicals can build up in our system and stall weight loss. While many factors often contribute, researchers find that environmental toxins play a role in being overweight or obese.
That’s where a well-designed detoxification plan can help. Besides helping you eliminate the wrong foods that can contribute to weight gain, the right program can give your liver and overall health a helping hand eliminating those excess toxins.
What is detoxification?
Detoxification starts in your liver. While it’s a complicated process, your liver essentially does this in two phases. First, it converts toxic substances to highly reactive metabolites and then excretes these toxins. Your kidneys, lungs, and even gut also play a role in detoxification.
Toxins can impact these organs both acutely and cumulatively. More dangerous are the persistent, low-grade toxins such as residue you consume regularly in conventionally grown fruits and vegetables. Reactions aren’t immediate, and you might not see the connection between chronic low-grade toxicity and struggling with weight loss.
Cleanse Your Body Naturally With Food
A healthy diet is the most important way to detoxify. First, remove foods that interfere with detoxification or make you more toxic. Among them include fructose, which is found in soda (as high-fructose corn syrup or HFCS) but also in fruit juices and commercial juice cleanses.
Research shows this simple sugar can become a key contributor to chronic diseases including obesity. Fructose ramps up problems including chronic inflammation and oxidative stress, which both contribute to obesity.
A natural cleanse also involves avoiding trans fats and damaged fats. These fats are in processed foods with “partially hydrogenated” in the ingredients — even if the front label says “low in fat.” Scrambled eggs on the buffet table are an example of damaged fats, where the fat has become oxidized — skip them.
Food sensitivities can also stall weight loss and exacerbate toxicity by making your gut more permeable and allowing toxins to enter the bloodstream. Gluten, dairy, soy, and corn are among the common food sensitivities. When considering detoxification, try eliminating these foods for three to four weeks.
The Best Foods for Natural Detoxification
Chlorella tops the list of detoxifying foods for many reasons. This freshwater algae, native to Taiwan and Japan, is a “superstar” superfood replete with phytonutrients, amino acids, chlorophyll, beta-carotene, potassium, phosphorous, biotin, magnesium and B vitamins. It is by far one of the most nutrient dense superfoods for supporting your immune system. In fact, a 1-ounce (3 tbsp) serving of chlorella contains:
Vitamin A: 287% RDA
Vitamin B2: 71% RDA
Vitamin B3: 33% RDA
Iron: 202% RDA
Magnesium: 22% RDA
Zinc: 133% RDA
Chlorella provides a host of health benefits. Primarily it helps your body detox or “chelate” heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, mercury and uranium, and keeps them from being reabsorbed.
If you have mercury fillings, for example, or consume large amounts of fish, you most likely have elevated levels of heavy metals in your body. We are also exposed to metals in our water, makeup and personal care products, and conventional produce. To determine if you have heavy metal toxicity, you can ask your doctor to test your blood with a red blood cell test or a hair test.
Another amazing health benefit of chlorella is its ability to help detoxify the body of radioactive particles resulting from chemotherapy and ultraviolet radiation treatments commonly used to treat cancer. This is due to its high levels of chlorophyll.
Spirulina, a cousin of chlorella, also offers immense detoxification support to your body. This blue-green algae, also called a cyanobacterium, originates from both fresh and salt water sources. It is another power house of nutrition! It’s so impressive as a superfood, that NASA now sends it in space for our astronauts to consume to stay healthy.
A single tablespoon (7 grams) of dried spirulina powder contains:
Protein: 4 grams
Vitamin B1 (Thiamin): 11% of the RDA
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): 15% of the RDA
Vitamin B3 (Niacin): 4% of the RDA
Copper: 21% of the RDA
Iron: 11% of the RDA
It also contains magnesium, potassium and manganese. Similar to chlorella’s chlorophyll, Spirulina’s driving engine is a compound called phycocyanine, which has significant antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, therefore inhibiting cell oxidative damage. This damage contributes to chronic inflammation, cancer and autoimmunity in general.
Among the many other health benefits of spirulina, it has been shown to help patients detoxify from heavy metal exposure – mainly in the form of arsenic. The World Health Organization has labeled arsenic toxicity as a global problem around the world including the US. Chronic arsenic toxicity is the result of exposure to arsenic primarily in ground water. The effects can be very damaging and can be seen even years after exposure. Arsenic is a known carcinogen which affects many organs. Spirulina, which is also very high in chlorophyll, can counteract this damage by removing toxins from the blood stream while strengthening the immune system.
Turmeric is a perennial herb in the ginger family containing a phytochemical called curcumin. This gives it the distinctive deep golden color so commonly associated with curry, of which turmeric is a key ingredient. Turmeric’s surge in popularity in the Western World is due to its medicinal properties that offer all the health benefits without the negative side effects of conventional drugs. This amazing spice provides wonderful detoxification support for your body.
Curcumin is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent reducing pain associated with autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. In regards to detoxification, curcumin helps your liver process metabolic waste and toxins by stimulating your gallbladder to release bile, which in turn improves liver function. Bile cleanses your liver and rejuvenates liver cells. Bile also prevents toxins from being converted to harmful compounds that damage your liver.
Because turmeric only contains about 2-5% curcuminoids by weight I recommend taking a curcumin supplement to maintain optimal levels (particularly if you have an autoimmune condition). However, making turmeric part of your daily diet is also a powerful tool for detoxification.
Ginger is a flowering plant closely related to turmeric. The root, or rhizome, of the plant has been used for thousands of years as an anti-inflammatory agent and antioxidant. Ginger is definitely a main contender in the world of detoxification. You will find it is a common ingredient in detox and cleansing recipes and supplements–for good reason!
Ginger stimulates digestion, circulation, and sweating, which are your body’s three main avenues of natural detoxification! This rids your body of the build-up of waste and toxins in the colon, liver, and other organs. Ginger has a high concentration of gingerol and shoga, both of which offer anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic effects on your gastrointestinal system. Ginger also helps to maintain digestive enzymes. This can alleviate a wide variety of digestive issues from stomach pain to gas and bloating.
5. Leafy Greens
Leafy greens are a fabulous way to support your body’s natural detoxification, so add them to as many meals as you can on a daily basis! Certain leafy greens rank high on the list including spinach, kale, moringa leaf, alfalfa leaf and parsley.
Leafy greens are chock full of minerals, including iron, calcium, potassium, and magnesium, and vitamins, including some B vitamins as well as vitamins K, C, E. Many of these nutrients are involved in the detoxification process. They are full of fiber, which makes them slow to digest and good for detoxifying your bowels.
Leafy greens contain a variety of phytonutrients including beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. They also contain chlorophyll, which gives them their green pigment. As I explained above, chlorophyll is great for detoxifying heavy metals and toxins from your body.
An apple a day really can keep the doctor away! Apples provide amazing detoxification support for your liver. The pectin and malic acid in apples, offer a one two punch to the toxins in your body! The soluble fiber in the pectin helps remove cholesterol and toxins from your blood, while the malic acid is a cleansing nutrient that removes carcinogens and toxins from your blood. Remember to eat only organic apples as their conventionally grown counterparts are highly contaminated with pesticides.
7. Broccoli Sprouts
It’s true, you should eat your broccoli! More specifically, eat broccoli sprouts. Broccoli contains a chemical called sulforaphane, which fights malignant cancer cells in the body. New research by Johns Hopkins has shown the ability of this chemical to detoxify carcinogens before they actually cause harm to the body. Some functional medicine practitioners recommend avoiding cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli, because they contain goitrogens. However, I have found that the health benefits far outweigh the minimal risk. You can further reduce any impact on your thyroid by cooking any cruciferous vegetables.
Beets are another blood-cleansing and purifying food, which your liver loves! A cleansed bloodstream and “happy” liver results in increased nutrient production in your body. Beets are also high in antioxidants and many nutrients including folate, pectin fiber, iron, betaine, betalains, betacyanin, and betanin. They also contain pectin, a natural blood cleanser. It is important to assist your body in eliminating toxins by eating a diet high in fiber to prevent reabsorption, and beets do this beautifully!