Natural Balance Foods

Natural cleansing with everyday detox foods

Dietary Detox

Cleansing and detoxifying within the body is a natural, ongoing process of neutralising and eliminating potentially harmful dietary, chemical and environmental toxins. Detoxification is a very sophisticated system involving various organs such as the gut, the liver (both major detoxifying organs), as well as the kidneys, bowels and skin for “elimination”. Aside from the body’s own resources and ability to continually purify, there are numerous “everyday” detox foods that can effectively support the entire process.

 

Plant-based foods in particular provide vitamins, minerals, plentiful fibre, antioxidants and even essential fatty acids that keep the gut, tissues and cells healthy, as well as induce whole body detoxification via some very intricate enzymatic pathways.

 

When choosing to “detoxify” or cleanse the body via a natural plant-based diet, it is important to eat plenty of organic, unrefined, unprocessed foods as fresh as possible, and in their natural state! So, fresh veggies, fruits, whole grains and seeds and some pulses make up an ideal “detox diet”. I have put together some of my favourite “detox” superfoods, that illustrate just how food can play a crucial role in keeping the body’s natural cleansing systems working, assisting in overall detoxification and energy production…

 

Lemons - One of the most potent, and popular "detoxifying foods", lemons are packed with vitamin C. Vitamin C is an important antioxidant, helps break down cholesterol, and is one of several required nutrients needed for Phase 1 detoxification that begins to render harmful toxins into less harmful compounds. This occurs in the liver’s cells, via a complex enzyme system called the “cytochrome P450 system”. Lemons also help to restore the acid-alkaline balance of the body. 

 

Garlic - Garlic contains sulfur-containing compounds that help to fight harmful bacteria and yeasts in the intestines. Garlic also assists in the detoxifying processes of the body by increasing the production of glutathione, one of the body's major “detoxifying” antioxidants used in Phase 1 liver detoxification.  

 

Ginger root - Ginger is one of nature's most effective anti-inflammatory foods, but also helps to promote detoxification, improve digestion and also quell nausea. This is all thanks to its unique plant compounds called gingerols. Grate it into hot water with a slice of lime for a very special cleansing tea, add freshly grated ginger to salads, salad dressings, or try juicing fresh ginger with a selection of “detoxifying” fruits and veggies.

 

Seaweed - Far from being confined to Asian cuisine, seaweeds-such as dulse, kelp, and samphire are fast becoming common in British kitchens! Found in abundance along the shore lines of the UK, Ireland and Scandinavia, they are packed with minerals such as iodine (vital for production of thyroid hormone and our metabolism), calcium, magnesium and potassium. The high mineral content of seaweed renders them highly alkaline, and the unique antioxidants and fibres effectively promote detoxification. Kelp noodles have become popular (these are gluten-free), and samphire seems to very "in vogue". Try chopped seaweeds like dulse and samphire in salads, as an accompaniment to grilled fish, or add to brown rice, quinoa or even scrambled eggs.

 

Apples - Apples are high in the soluble fibre "pectin", which helps to soak up toxins and effectively eliminate waste via the colon. They have a low glycaemic score too, which means as they're digested, apple’s fruit sugars are absorbed slowly, creating a gradual rise in blood sugar, and therefore insulin. Apples contain malic acid, and glucaric acid, which help remove oestrogen-like chemicals and heavy metals from the body. Aside from munching on an apple as a snack or ideal post-exercise food, try slices topped with almond butter, chop apple into mueslis, or add to a leafy green and walnut salad for a little bit of sweetness.  

 

Avocado - Whilst avocados do contain a fair amount of fat, this is a very natural "heart-healthy" monounsaturated fat. A little fat during a detoxifying or cleansing period is important because it promotes the release of bile from the gallbladder, allowing for the elimination of toxins from the body, as well as in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Avocados also contain vitamin E (a powerful free radical scavenger), folate, B5, potassium and lots of fibre too.  It’s rich, buttery texture adds creaminess to salads, salad dressings and smoothies, and is perfect for dips with raw vegetable crudités.

 

Almonds - Almonds are a super-healthy, mineral-rich food, great for snacking and also perfect to make a nutritious almond milk. Almond milk is a popular alternative to cow's milk, which you can make at home, or buy in supermarkets and health food stores. Add chopped almonds to oats and raisins for a fast muesli, or simply eat as a healthy snack with a piece of fruit. 

 

Green tea - Green tea polyphenols have been found to increase the activity of antioxidant and Phase 2 detoxification enzyme activity. Green tea also contains epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), a potent antioxidant that protects the liver against damage from toxins, prevents the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, and may help prevent heart disease and certain cancers.

 

Beetroot - Beetroot is fast-becoming a revered food amongst many people looking to improve cardiovascular health and also exercise performance. Beets however are also packed with "detoxifying” nutrients like potassium, folate, an array of antioxidants, and fibre too. Beetroot is rich in betaine, a compound that has been found to lower the levels of several inflammatory markers, protect against liver damage, and help the liver process fats. It also contains the beautiful reddish-purple antioxidant pigment betacyanin, which is responsible for a host of health benefits and may provide anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and detoxification support. When eating and preparing beets, don't forget to use the beet greens as well, as they're particularly rich in vitamin K, magnesium, iron and an important antioxidant called lutein - crucial for eye health!

 

Cabbage - One of the cheapest “detox foods”, cabbage has very effective cleansing properties due to its high content of glucosinolates - sulfur-containing compounds that are converted into active chemicals called isothiocyanates and indoles. Isothiocyanates may prevent cancer by promoting the elimination of potential carcinogens from the body. Cabbage is also high in vitamin K and vitamin C and is very low in calories! Look out for sauerkraut too, a fermented cabbage, which has the added benefit of containing probiotic (healthy) bacteria needed for a healthy gut and for elimination of toxins via the bowels. 

 

More foods to include in a healthy “detox diet”…

 

  • Watercress
  • Limes
  • Fresh parsley
  • Cucumber
  • Pomegranate
  • Rocket
  • Spinach 
  • Quinoa
  • Hempseeds
  • Blueberries
  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli
  • Fennel   
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Baby gem lettuce

 

So there’s the science, but what about the application! Check back soon for part two of Lucy-Ann’s detox demystification where you can put together your very own 7 day detox plan! 

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