When I was growing up, my aunt taught me the value of cleansing my body from toxic substances to prevent illness and help in the healing process. Today we know that uric acid can build up in our joints, pesticides from non-organic foods.
We can overwhelm our liver and its ability to pull toxins out of our body, yeast and parasites can inhabit our bowels, and secondhand smoke and air pollution can affect our lungs. So, about once every few months, or whenever I’m not feeling well, I go on a detoxification regimen. I like to cleanse my whole system through herb-spiked liquids, healing foods, and nutritional supplements.
Occasionally, I go on a master cleanse—a multi-day regimen of drinking nothing but water spiked with lemon juice, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper. It cleans out my colon and helps me lose weight. The lemon juice contains Vitamin C—one of 26 anti-aging properties I call FoodTrients—which transforms toxins into water-soluble agents that can be easily flushed out. Vitamin C, found in all citrus fruits, also gives the liver a boost and jump-starts the digestive tract. The maple syrup helps keep my blood sugar from completely crashing. And the cayenne pepper helps cleanse the bowel, kill bacteria, and encourage sweating. I don’t recommend it for everyone. It’s rather hard and it can cause headaches as a result of it lowering your blood sugar levels.
Another naturally cleansing spice is turmeric, a member of the ginger family. Turmeric is a source of the FoodTrient curcumin, which helps prevent disease through its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. You can make turmeric juice from the turmeric root and mix it with orange juice for extra Vitamin C—and detox—benefits. My easy Fresh Turmeric Juice recipe shows you how.
Certain foods can also help your body rid itself of unwanted chemicals. I’ve already mentioned the power of citrus fruits. Garlic, like citrus, helps the liver produce detoxifying enzymes. Okra is known for its ability to flush out the intestines. Chia seeds and flaxseeds have a similar bowel-cleansing effect because they are loaded with natural fiber and Omega-3 oils—two other FoodTrients—that absorb toxins in the intestinal tract and help eliminate them from the body. I like to soak chia seeds in water for 20 minutes and then add them to juice or iced tea. Drinking a chia-laced beverage three times a day can really help stabilize blood sugar and bring down cholesterol levels. Bitter melon has a similar effect on blood sugar and cholesterol. Chinese herbalists have been prescribing it for centuries. I soak bitter melon in saltwater to make it more palatable and then toss it with vinegar for a cleansing salad. My chia drink and bitter melon salad recipes can be found in my cookbook.
Fresh watercress, cilantro, and parsley are good for detoxifying the kidneys and liver because they contain the FoodTrient chlorophyll, which also helps protect against certain cancers. Cilantro can even pull metals like mercury, lead, and aluminum out of the body. Most every salad can benefit from a handful of fresh raw watercress, cilantro, and/or parsley.
Artichokes and hops (found in beer) are good detox agents as well. Artichokes increase bile production, helping both the gall bladder and the liver do their jobs. Hops act as a diuretic, pulling water-soluble toxins out of the body. A grilled artichoke with a glass of beer might be just the ticket for feeling better fast. See my recipe for Grilled Artichokes with Moringa Dip in my FoodTrients: Age-Defying Recipes for a Sustainable Life cookbook.
Pure water may be the ultimate detoxifying flush for kidneys, liver, lungs, and bowels, but green tea is also excellent. The catechins in green tea are great for helping the liver work and for purifying the blood. Plus, green tea is usually served as a beverage. Liquids definitely help pull poisons out of the body, so be sure to drink plenty of them. Whether you make your green tea hot or cold, use clean, fresh water. You can incorporate green tea into the foods you eat as well. My easy cookbook recipe for Green Tea Noodles shows you how you can use green tea in place of water when you cook noodles.
Nutritional supplements are another way to detoxify your body and help rid it of the toxic chemicals we pick up through environmental exposure to things like pesticides, car exhaust, smoke, and even cosmetics. A company called Metagenics makes a full line of metabolic detoxification products, which can only be purchased through the office of a licensed healthcare practitioner. Metagenics’ detox products contain vitamin A and D, folate, and the FoodTrients fiber, selenium, zinc, and vitamins C and E. They also have extracts from naturally cleansing foods like turmeric, milk thistle, artichoke leaves, watercress, hops, soybeans, and Chinese salvia root.
Incorporate these simple ways to naturally cleanse your body and eat whole foods that are free of pesticides and preservatives—they help promote a healthier you!