Foods to Help You Detox and Reset
by SmartyPants Staff
Feeling a little off? If you’re thinking about a nutritional or body makeover, detox is usually the first thing that comes to mind. But you can put down your bottle of lemon juice, cayenne pepper and maple syrup. (You’re welcome.)
Unlike what the latest fad diets and new trendy workouts popping up on your Instagram feed might have you believe, you don’t have to resort to a crazy restrictive meal plan, juicing or insane fitness regimen to help achieve physical and mental wellbeing.
Along with making sure you’re drinking enough water and getting adequate sleep, there are real (and delicious) foods you can eat to help your body detox and reset naturally.
So what’s with all the detox diets?
Sure, celebrities might swear by them, but that doesn’t mean they’re actually effective or good for you. The fact is, your liver does a brilliant job of detoxing your body through a natural multi-process, each step fueled by a different set of nutrients.
However, not eating a balanced diet, environmental toxins and lifestyle stressors can impact this. So we put together a list of our top detoxifying food picks that offer many other health benefits too!
This one is sure to make you feel butter, we mean better. Hindi for the word “fat,” ghee is a type of clarified butter that has been a staple of Ayurvedic medicine and Indian cuisine for centuries.
Today, it’s known as a superfood for its detoxifying qualities. Some people believe also claim it can help with maintaining a healthy immune system and inflammation.
Ghee is a lactose-free and low-cholesterol alternative to butter. Plus, it’s rich in antioxidants and packed with other nutrients including omega-3 and 6 essential fatty acids and vitamins A, D, E and K. However, it’s still a saturated fat. So like all good fats (yes, even avocados), you want to consume this one in moderation.
How It Helps
- Ghee has a high concentration of butyric acid, which is also produced by microbes in your gut.
- Butyric acid is thought to play a beneficial role in the gastrointestinal tract.
- It helps balance microflora in the gut and helps regulate your immune system and anti-inflammatory activity.
How to Use It
- Ghee is an easy addition to any pantry. Unlike butter, it’s non-perishable and has a long shelf life.
- When it comes to cooking, ghee has a rich nutty flavor and a higher smoke point than butter and coconut oil, making it ideal for stir-frying vegetables and protein. It can also be used as a substitute for coconut oil when baking.
- Try it on toast, melt and drizzle it on popcorn and in any recipe that calls for clarified or drawn butter.
FUN FACT: In Ayurvedic medicine, ghee is used to lubricate the intestinal tract and as a carrier for nutrients in herbs. It’s also the key ingredient of the Ayurvedic home cleanse, the internal and external oiling of the body. Vedic cleansing techniques call for the ingestion of melted ghee to help saturate fat cells and allow stored toxins (like pesticides, heavy metals and some say, even emotional baggage) to be released.
Just one more reason to eat your greens! Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, radish and collard greens contain unique compounds that can help support your body’s ability to detox.
They also contain phytonutrients (plant-based compounds) which can work together to help promote good health. Plus, they’re a source of folate, vitamins C and K and minerals (potassium, selenium and calcium) that are important for overall good health.
How It Helps
- Cruciferous vegetables are unique because they’re rich in glucosinolates, sulfur-containing compounds that have been proven to support the immune system, and aid in our body's detoxification process.
- Glucosinolates are also thought to have other health benefits by triggering your body’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory response and supporting cell homeostasis.
When to Eat
The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend eating 2.5 cups (for a 2,000 calorie diet) a day of vegetables from all five vegetable subgroups.
While often tastier, cooking vegetables can degrade their nutritional content. To maximize your glucosinates, try adding these to veggies to your salad or eating them raw with a healthy dip like hummus. If you want to stir-fry them, try using ghee.
FUN FACT: Glucosinolates are what impart the pungent aroma and sometimes spicy taste of these good-for-you greens.
We’ve all probably heard of some form of the grapefruit diet, and there’s a reason why this citrus fruit continues to get so much hype. It’s packed with nutrients, antioxidants and fiber which have been purported to help do everything from burn fat to support your immune system, protect against inflammation and even lead to glowing skin. More research needs to be done to support all of those claims, but we like it for its high fiber content which can help with detoxification.
How It Helps
- Grapefruit has a high level of pectin, a gelatinous fiber that sticks to toxins in the blood and helps flush them out through urine. Plus, with grapefruits being approximately 88% water (one of the highest of any fruit), they’re a great food to eat to help stay hydrated and flush out your system.
- This citrus fruit, also has high levels vitamin C. Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is an essential nutrient for humans and contributes to your immune system and can protect against environmental oxidative stress along with being both anti-inflammatory and antibacterial.
- It also contains other antioxidants including beta-carotene, lycopene and flavanones that have shown to have various other health benefits.
Don’t pitch the pith. Pith is the white layer of flesh between the juicy insides and the peel. While you may be tempted to throw this away, it’s actually rich in antioxidants, nutrients and soluble fiber.
FUN FACT: Grapefruit is a hybrid fruit and the result of a cross between a pomelo and an orange. People have been using it for weight loss since the 1930s.
IMPORTANT TO NOTE: Grapefruits contain chemicals that can impact how your body interacts with certain drugs. If you’re taking medications or starting a new one, we recommend you check with your doctor or pharmacist to make sure there aren’t any adverse reactions.
This one’s no fish story. Along with being an excellent source of omega-3 essential fatty acids (EPA & DHA), salmon contains the powerful antioxidant astaxanthin, also needed for detoxification. With omega-3s and astaxanthin, eating salmon is thought to have many other health benefits including helping to support eye, brain, skin and heart health. It can even help improve your mood.
How It Helps
- The DHA essential fatty acids found in fish oil are anti-inflammatory and can help the body’s NRF2 response, which aids in the detoxification process. NRF2 or Nuclear factor (erythroid-derived 2)-like 2, protects against oxidative stress and stimulates the detoxification system by helping the body eliminate potentially harmful and toxic compounds.
- Astaxanthin is a potent anti-inflammatory with protective capabilities that can help support a healthy liver and reduce oxidative stress and inflammation, while supporting the immune system.
Salmon is easy to cook and can be prepared in a variety of healthy ways including baking, poaching, grilling or smoking. For an easy, detox salmon salad, try mixing a can of wild-caught salmon with half an avocado and chopped red onion.
FUN FACT: Salmon get their unique color from astaxanthin. It’s also what makes flamingos pink.
Feeling blue? This time it’s a good thing. These sweet, blue gems of goodness are one of the most nutrient-dense berries, and they can help with detox. They’re also thought to have one of the highest levels of antioxidants among all fruits.
About a cup of blueberries contains about 4 grams of fiber and acts an excellent source of vitamin C and K and manganese. As a result, blueberries are known to support various health benefits including helping to maintain brain function and memory, improve mood and protect against aging.
How it Works
- Research suggests that the phytochemicals in blueberries are what help give them their detoxifying qualities.
- Phytochemicals help regulate Nrf2 activity, which is key to regulating the body's detoxification and antioxidant system.
FUN FACT: Native Americans called blueberries “star berries” in reference to the five-point star on the blossom end of each berry.
Since you’re helping your body get rid of all that toxic build up, you need to make sure you actually get it out by staying regular. Feeding your colon good, healthy bacteria, or, probiotics, helps it function properly and move out waste.
Probiotics occur naturally in fermented foods such as raw sauerkraut (not pasteurized), kefir and kimchi. Yogurt also contains some probiotics, but make sure the label reads ‘contains live active cultures.’
How It Works
- Probiotics are essentially good bacteria that live in your gut and help balance microflora. They also help send food through your intestinal tract and support healthy gastrointestinal function.
- Some studies suggest they can also help support healthy immune function, and a better mood and have various other health benefits.
DON’T cook these foods – that will kill the live bacteria. Instead, try raw kimchi or sauerkraut, or plain kefir topped with raw honey and mixed berries.
FUN FACT: The tradition way to make kimchi entails fermenting it underground in pots for months. Kimchi was first developed during the 12th century in Korea as a way to preserve vegetables during winter.Now, who’s ready to nosh your way to wellness from the inside out? Of course, if you’re looking for other ways to ensure a balanced diet, you can always try a supplement. We know a pretty good one.
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