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Spring cleaning isn’t just about scrubbing behind the refrigerator and making order from the chaos in the garage; spring is also an excellent time to detoxify the body. Over the winter, heavy foods and limited physical activity promote the accumulation of toxins within your tissues and organs. The spring season is a great opportunity to flush them out and energize your system for greater vitality.
But unlike cleaning the garage, detoxifying the body doesn’t have to be a chore. There are a number of foods that help cleanse and remove toxins from deep within, naturally. By incorporating these and other nutrient-dense detox foods, we nourish our systems and eliminate toxins, clearing the way for optimal health throughout the year.
Some Top Detoxifying Foods
You’ve probably noticed that many foods that support good health are also intensely colorful. Their vibrant colors are produced by the rich abundance of phytonutrients and antioxidants they contain. Blueberries, carrots and beets are good examples. Beets are especially good detoxifiers and are full of B vitamins and minerals, including zinc, crucial for the immune system. Beets are also full of fiber, to help cleanse the digestive tract. Even better, beets support the liver, the body’s primary filter for toxins.
Turmeric is a bright-yellow root commonly used as a spice in traditional Indian cooking. It is also a staple in Ayurvedic medicine. As happens so often with ancient medical practices, scientific research has confirmed the benefits of turmeric. This spice — and curcumin, its main active ingredient — have been shown to detoxify the body, improve digestion, fight cancer, increase antioxidant protection and enhance immunity, among other benefits.
Sea vegetables are also excellent for supporting detoxification and overall health. They have been part of Asian cuisines for thousands of years and offer remarkable health benefits. Seaweed contains vitamins A, C, E and the B complex; calcium; magnesium; potassium; iron; and other minerals. They also contain compounds that support the removal of toxins, stabilize blood sugar and promote immunity. There are a number of varieties to choose from, including nori, dulse, arame and kelp.
Cultured and fermented vegetables should also be on your spring menu. The fermentation process increases digestibility and boosts nutrient profiles significantly. These foods support immunity and aid detoxification. Sauerkraut and kimchee, for example, are sources of probiotics, enzymes and nutrients that support digestion, detoxification and overall health.
Many culinary mushrooms are rich in antioxidants and compounds that help detoxify the body, boost immunity, reduce inflammation and even repair damaged tissue. Shitake, oyster and maitake are excellent examples that can be included in soups, sautés and other savory dishes.
Lemon helps the body remove toxins and is also an excellent tonic for both the liver and gall bladder. In my practice, I recommend a daily dose of an olive oil and lemon mixture during detoxification: Cut an organic lemon into small pieces and blend it with 1¼ cups spring water and a tablespoon of olive oil. Partially strain the mixture, leaving some pulp. (The pectin from the lemon peel helps the digestive tract.) Drink before bed. In addition to supporting detoxification, many of my patients report that this drink helps improve their sleep.
The list of detoxifying foods is so extensive that this topic deserves its own book, and there are many excellent foods that we can eat every day for “clean energy,” so to speak. A daily dose of fresh green vegetables can help cleanse the digestive tract and bloodstream, and extra fiber is also essential.
With their high levels of fiber, flax seeds are ideal to help remove toxins from the digestive tract. They are also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. Garlic is also a potent detoxifier and provides strong immune support. Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables get metabolized into a compound called DIM, which supports immunity, modulates estrogen metabolism and aids detoxification.
It’s also helpful to supplement these excellent foods with herbs and botanicals that actively detoxify the body, support antioxidant activity and help reduce “detox reactions” during a cleanse.
One formula I recommend contains modified citrus pectin (MCP) from the pith of citrus peels, together with alginates derived from kelp. This unique formula helps remove heavy metals, such as lead, mercury and arsenic, and environmental toxins. MCP also controls a pro-inflammatory protein called galectin-3. At high levels in the body, galectin-3 can fuel cancer, heart disease, chronic inflammation, fibrosis of organs and tissues, and related conditions.
As noted, medicinal mushrooms support healthy immunity and aid in detoxification. Look for a comprehensive formula grown indoors under controlled conditions, since mushrooms can absorb toxins if cultivated improperly. I recommend a formula with six potent medicinal mushrooms, grown on immune-enhancing herbs to maximize their immune, detoxification and overall health benefits.
Another detoxification formula I rely on in my practice contains sulfured amino acids and other detox-supporting nutrients, together with cilantro, garlic, milk thistle, dandelion and specific Chinese herbal blends. This phase 2 formula can be used alone or together with the MCP and alginate blend to support the deeper removal of heavy metals and toxins from organs and tissues.
Though the body has many mechanisms to get rid of toxins, we’re exposed on a daily basis to many problematic chemicals; and it can be hard to eliminate all of them. A gentle, seasonal cleanse is an excellent way to support the elimination processes, enhance immunity and maintain overall health. Celebrate the renewal of life and energy this spring by taking the right steps to increase your vitality. Whether it’s for three days, three weeks or longer, a gentle and nourishing spring cleanse can help you reach a greater level of health and wellness, naturally.
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