Detox WITH Food
It’s a new year, and with the abundance of the holidays behind us, many people start to think about ways they can reset and recharge their bodies. When we think of “detoxing,” the concepts of juice fasting, master cleanses, and even water fasting often come to mind as ways to boost autophagy and reset our bodies quickly. Serious detox protocols like this, however, are void of fiber, protein, and micronutrients that actually help support each phase of detoxification. Detox protocols like these should only be done under medical supervision, as they can be very taxing on the body and sometimes dangerous if certain co-morbidities are present. So, what should we include to support detoxification?
Vitamin and mineral-rich food is the cornerstone of a good food-focused detoxification plan. Nutrients like vitamin C found in berries, leafy greens, citrus fruits, peppers, and broccoli as well as magnesium from dark leafy greens, nuts, and seeds can expedite the detoxification process by moving toxins through the body’s lymphatic channels.
Omega–3 fatty acids from fatty fish like wild caught salmon and mackerel, as well as nuts and seeds like chia and walnuts, can help lower systemic inflammation, including that of the liver, the body’s primary detoxication organ.
Detoxification is also carried out with the help of methyl groups. Most of the methyl groups used for conjugation of toxins come from s-adenosylmethionine (SAM). Methionine, choline, B12, and active folate are all required for the synthesis of SAM. Primary sources of these nutrients include nuts and seeds, avocado, pastured eggs, grass-fed beef, liver, organic chicken, wild fish, and shellfish.
Sulfur-rich foods are the foundation of detoxification. Sulfur helps the body to produce its primary antioxidant called glutathione. Glutathione consists of sulfur and amino acids (protein), which can both be found in well sourced animal products such as grass-fed beef, organic poultry, wild game, lamb, and wild-caught seafood. Sulfur–rich foods to include for detoxification include leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, cabbage, and kohlrabi. Allium vegetables like onion, leeks, and garlic, as well as the high–quality animal proteins listed above can help push phase 2 of the detoxification process.
Let’s summarize some of the best foods to choose for detoxification:
Carbohydrates (organic whenever possible):
Fruit: berries and citrus fruits
- Leafy greens – salad greens, watercress, dandelion, and swiss chard
- Cruciferous vegetables – broccoli, kale, brussels sprouts, radishes, kohlrabi, etc.
- Colorful vegetables – tomatoes, rainbow peppers, cucumbers, celery
Animal protein (pastured/organic): lean poultry, lamb, beef, and eggs.
Fish/shellfish (wild-caught): Cod, scrod, sole, haddock, ALASKAN salmon, sardines, shrimp, scallops, oysters, etc. Visit www.seafoodwatch.org for low mercury seafood choices.
- Extra virgin olive oil and olives
- Avocados and avocado oil
- Nuts/seeds of all kinds (raw is best for natural oils and enzymes), nut/seed butters are great as well!
- Virgin coconut oil and sesame oil
Green, dandelion, rooibos, and rosemary.
Lifestyle interventions to support detoxification:
- Take Epsom Salt (Magnesium Sulfate) baths. These are a great way to increase sulfation in someone who doesn’t tolerate a lot of sulfur-rich foods in their diet.
- Go out into the sun, which stimulates production of cholesterol sulfate.
- Increase lymphatic flow with the process of dry brushing.
- Minimize household toxins from perfumes, body care and harsh cleaning products. Visit https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ for a personal care product database.
- Avoid environmental toxins such as alcohol, caffeine, smoke, pesticides, unfiltered water, preservatives as well as high mercury fish like tuna and swordfish.
- Remove foods that hinder detoxification – gluten, processed foods, sugar, poor-quality oils, GMOs, and farmed meat.
- Increase your water intake; staying hydrated will help flush the liver of toxins and aid in the liver detox. Aim for half of your body weight in ounces.
Remember, detoxification is our body’s innate system of recycling and removing toxins from the body. Food helps to facilitate the phases of detoxication by providing co-factor nutrients that activate these pathways. Gentle daily detoxification with nutrient dense food can help to ensure these processes are always supported.