Here’s my “Top 20” list of favourite cleansing foods to include in your menu planning this fall. Among their numerous benefits, they help to cleanse, energize, and heal the body. Here’s a question I’m often asked: do we need both food and dietary supplements for a successful detox, or can we be successful with food alone? It’s really a great question. I used to think that most people could experience a successful detox with food alone, but my opinion has changed.
That’s because the quality of our food sources and our way of living have changed. Our toxic exposure has increased dramatically—it’s not going down; it’s going up! So, in my opinion, we need to rely on both food and dietary supplements for a truly effective detox. But, let’s put most of the emphasis on the foods we consume. That’s really where it starts. And, if you’re thinking about trying a specific detox supplement protocol, be sure to work with your holistic practitioner. Now, let’s turn our focus on specific foods that are known to detoxify and heal the body, and that are particularly suited for the fall season.
How to Select the Most Healing, Detoxifying Foods for the Fall/Winter Season
Here’s an important question to ask yourself whenever you’re shopping for food: am I choosing foods that are bringing more toxins into my body? You’d be surprised how many foods on the market are laden with pesticides and other toxins! So, be sure that the foods you’re selecting are coming from a clean source. Of course, try to go organic whenever possible, and try to buy from local growers as much as you can. Also, when buying produce, use the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG’s) Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists as guides. These lists were developed from pesticide residue tests conducted by USDA and FDA scientists. By following these guides, you can feel confident that you’re acquiring foods that contain the least amount of toxins, especially if you don’t have access to or can’t afford to buy organic produce. Visit the EWG website to find out more.
My “Top 20” List of Detox Foods
Among their numerous benefits, they help to cleanse, energize, and heal the body.
1. Cabbage Family Vegetables
These vegetables are also known as cruciferous vegetables and belong to the mustard or Brassica family. They include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, collard and mustard greens, watercress, cauliflower, kohlrabi, wasabi, bok choy, kale, and cabbage. Cruciferous vegetables provide a rich source of vitamins, phytochemicals, and minerals, as well as fiber. Plus, many have antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-cancer properties that help to boost the immune system and keep you disease free. Many of the vegetables in the cabbage family also contain powerful detoxifying agents, so they’re beneficial for cleansing the digestive system and the liver. And, let’s not forget that these vegetables are generally very low in fat and calories, so they’re a great food to include in your weight loss/management program.
Apples may be one of the healthiest foods you can eat. For starters, the antioxidant qualities in apples help to prevent clogging of the arteries and other cardiovascular issues.
And, if you’re concerned about blood sugar levels, you’ll be happy to know that apples can help to regulate your blood sugar and lessen the sugar load on the bloodstream. Apples also are high in soluble fiber, which helps to cleanse the bowel and prevent toxins from overloading the liver. Try to eat organic apples since the non-organic varieties are among EWG‘s Dirty Dozen!
3. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar, which is made from crushed, fermented apples, contains high levels of potassium and other nutrients that make it a nutritional powerhouse. ACV is full of enzymes and good bacteria. It’s amazing stuff with a myriad of health benefits. It can help you lose weight, combat fatigue, prevent leg cramps and night cramps, and so much more…Among its beneficial qualities, it cleanses the body by helping it to break down fat and mucous deposits stored in the body. Plus, the pectin and amino acids in this vinegar help to balance cholesterol levels. Just a small amount of apple cider vinegar taken before a meal can help to improve your food digestion.
Avocados contain a nutrient called glutathione, which blocks at least 30 different carcinogens while helping the liver to detoxify synthetic chemicals. It helps to lower cholesterol and dilate blood vessels while blocking artery-destroying toxicity. Researchers at the University of Michigan found that elderly people who had high levels of glutathione in their system were healthier and less likely to suffer from arthritis.
Beets contain a unique mixture of natural plant chemicals (phytochemicals) and minerals that make them superb infection fighters, blood purifiers, and liver cleansers. They also help boost the body’s cellular intake of oxygen, making them excellent body cleansers.
Many herbalists believe that cayenne is the most useful and valuable herb in the herb kingdom. It benefits not only the digestive system but also the heart and circulatory system. Cayenne acts as a catalyst that increases the effectiveness of other herbs when used in combination with them.
This herb contains a wide variety of antioxidants, which makes it a great fighter of free radicals. It does a fantastic job detoxifying heavy metals from the body.
8. Fermented Food
The fermentation process allows bacteria, yeast, and moulds to “predigest” food, breaking down carbohydrates, fats, and proteins to create probiotics, which introduce friendly bacteria into the digestive tract. Fermented foods help to keep our immune systems strong and support our overall digestive health. Take a look at the following site to see how I make homemade sauerkraut
9. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are a quick and easy-to-use source of protein, healthy fats, dietary fiber, minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants, all rolled into one neat package. Although they have similar health benefits to flax seeds, chia seeds may soon edge these out because they don’t have to be ground prior to consumption, and they don’t go rancid as quickly either.
Garlic contains allicin, which is a sulfur-based compound needed by the liver for effective detoxification. Garlic helps the liver rid the body of mercury, certain food additives, and hormones.
This healing herb contains potent anti-inflammatory compounds that can effectively reduce joint pain and improve mobility in the body. It’s also widely used to treat different types of stomach-related ailments including gas, diarrhea, upset stomach, motion sickness, and morning sickness.
12. High Antioxidant Fruits
Blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and raspberries all contain antioxidants, which help to protect the liver from high levels of free radicals that are naturally produced during the process of detoxification.
Lemons are superb liver detoxifiers. They contain high amounts of vitamin C, which are needed by the body to make a substance called glutathione. Glutathione helps to optimize the liver’s detoxification process, which, in turn, helps to reduce the negative impact that environmental chemicals will have on the body. The Vitamin C and other antioxidants found in lemons also help to ward off cancer and assist the body in fighting the effects of pollution and cellular damage. Fresh lemon juice contains more than 20 anti-cancer causing compounds and helps balance the body’s pH levels.
14. Lemon Essential Oils
Let’s not forget Pure Essential oils! This citrus oil stimulates white blood cells to defend the body against infection. Its detoxifying and regenerating properties are beneficial for the liver and aid in bringing clarity to the mind and emotions. Everyday use: Add 2 drops of lemon to my water every morning to aid the lymphatic system. If you are not comfortable with ingesting essential oils, then simply add 1-2 drops of lemon oil to the bottom of your feet to enhance liver detox and the lymphatic system.
15. Microgreens or Sprouts
Scientific research has shown that micro-greens—vegetable and herb seeds harvested and consumed when they are less than two weeks old—are simply loaded with antioxidants and other healthful nutrients. According to a recent study published by the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, micro-greens that were tested for nutrient content contained vitamin (including vitamins C, E, and K) and carotenoid levels that were five times greater than their full-grown counterparts.
16. Nuts and Seeds
Eat a handful of soaked almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, hemp seeds or other nuts (except cashews or peanuts). Nuts and seeds are a good source of essential fatty acids and amino acids.
Parsley is a giant among herbs because of its wonderful healing qualities. Eat parsley to promote good cardiovascular health, to reduce inflammation in the body, and to boost your immune system. And, remember to add parsley the next time you juice!
18. Sea Vegetables
Sea vegetables are among the most nutritious foods on earth. Those commonly eaten include alaria, arame, dulse, hijiki, kombu, nori, and wakame. Some sea vegetables, including kombu, hijiki, and arame, are known to protect the body from the effects of radiation. The alginic acid found in these vegetables effectively binds to the radioactive substance so it can be removed through the bowels. Plus, some sea vegetables can lower cholesterol levels, thereby promoting good cardiovascular health.
Sprouts like red clover, alfalfa, broccoli, mustard, and sunflower seeds contain an array of essential nutrients and enzymes. They’re also high in protein but don’t contain the fat and cholesterol found in other sources of protein.
This spice is a powerful anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-carcinogenic food. It’s rich in manganese, iron, vitamin B6, potassium, and fiber. Researchers have dubbed it a “super food” because of its many health benefits.