Why detox? Don’t our bodies naturally detox for us? In a nutshell, we need to detox when our intake of toxins exceeds our body’s capacity to detoxify them. Most people could benefit from an occasional detox, considering how many toxins we are exposed to on a daily basis (think alcohol, pollution, heavy metals, caffeine, over the counter drugs, prescription drugs… the list goes on).
The liver is the body’s primary detoxifying organ, assisted by the digestive system and kidneys. The liver detoxifies in two stages: Stage 1, preparation, wherein toxins are acted upon by a series of enzymes and various antioxidant co-factors, and stage 2, where toxins are neutralized and eliminated from the body. Most detox programs focus on the liver. One of the hardest working organs in the body, its jobs include: cleansing the blood by breaking down and eliminating toxins, breaking down and eliminating excess hormones, balancing blood sugar, producing bile (vital for the digestion of fats), and storing nutrients. No wonder our livers need some extra help from time to time! The benefits of detoxing include increased energy, clearer skin, improved digestion, brighter eyes, clearer sinuses, better sleep and a sharper mind. Below are some ideal detox foods to help you cleanse your body of toxins and stagnation.
Traditionally used in Ayurveda for over 2000 years, this golden yellow root is full of the potent flavonoid curcumin and other yellow pigments that act as cellular protectives and systemic rejuvenatives. Its ability to clear the blood of toxins benefits anyone exposed to high amounts of pollutants and stress. As the major organ of detoxification, the liver qualifies for special attention. As a bitter food, turmeric can help the liver do its job more effectively. It is particularly beneficial as it assists with the liver’s detoxification pathways.
Ginger is a principal herb used for detoxification in Ayurveda. It is also known as ‘vishwa-bheshaja’ in Sanskrit, meaning ‘the universal medicine’, as it benefits everybody and all health imbalances, especially ‘cold’ and nervous vata disorders. Ginger is a digestive cleanser and its warming and drying properties can be your best friend in times of need. Pungent in taste, ginger stimulates the secretion of digestive enzymes, increasing your digestive fire (agni) and aiding the elimination of toxins.
Livers love lemons! These citrus fruits are a rich source of vitamin C and other nutrients which support the liver in its vital detoxification role. Drinking freshly squeezed lemon juice in a glass of boiled water that has been allowed to cool first thing in the morning will help cleanse the liver, promote detoxification and stimulate bile production, in turn promoting gut health and efficient elimination.
Beets contain antioxidants such as beta-carotene, other carotenoids, and healing flavonoids. Antioxidants help to limit the damage caused by free radicals, thus have a healing and cleansing effect on the liver. Beets also contain folic acid which is necessary for Phase 1 detoxification.
Dark Leafy Greens
Dark leafy greens are full of nutrients that support the liver in its many important roles. They are also a rich source of detoxifying plant chlorophylls, which increase bile production and aid in neutralizing environmental toxins and heavy metals, lightening the load on our poor overworked livers! Make dark leafy green vegetables like spinach and kale a regular addition to your detox regime.
Cilantro, or coriander, is a wonderful remedy for helping to clear irritating heat toxins from the body. The leaves are used to help reduce allergies and clear toxins. During a cleanse it is important to keep the strength of your digestive fire (agni) strong, so remember to include herbs and spices such as coriander in your diet.
During a cleanse it is important to keep the strength of your digestive fire (agni) strong, so remember to include herbs and spices such as fennel in your diet.
Chlorophyll positively affects all the organs of detoxification (the bowels, liver, mucous membranes, and blood cells). It also has the ability to neutralise toxic cellular agents, including free radicals, environmental pollutants, and carcinogens. Some of the best sources of chlorophyll are Spirulina, Chlorella and Wheatgrass juice.
B vitamins, in particular, B6, B-12, and folic acid are needed for the liver’s methylation pathway and for the production and recycling of glutathione, the vital antioxidant that supports healthy liver detoxification. Take as part of a high-quality B-vitamin complex.
Although a good diet naturally maintains digestive health, it is wise to undertake a regular bowel cleanse in order to completely detoxify your system. The Ayurvedic formula triphala is a principal herb blend used for detoxification that is famed for it’s ability to mildly detoxify the bowel. It helps to detoxify and to nourish and is traditionally used to maintain a healthy digestive tract.
As a blood cleanser it removes skin blemishes; and as a mild laxative it banishes constipation without causing dependency. It redirects the flow of energy downwards, helping your motions and digestions to be regular and is an overall rejuvenative, considered to prolong life. The triphala formula is high in antioxidants and performs the functions of healing perfectly. Triphala can be used long-term, as its healing effects improve with time. Just 2g of triphala has potent antioxidant activity higher than a whole cup of cherries.