While I'm a firm believer that detoxification is an essential part of optimal health, I acknowledge there is a lot of misinformation on how to detox safely and effectively. I'm often asked, "What is the best detox/detox kit?" My answer is simple: We're all biochemically unique and thus, have different biochemical demands. There are a number of organs which aid in the removal of the dangerous exogenous and endogenous toxins from our body.
Therefore, it's highly recommended to seek the guidance of a qualified health-care provider before you begin a detox regimen.
That being said, there are a number of foods you can eat safely on a regular basis to get a gentle detox daily. Below are my favourites:
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You can't beat beets! Beets are full of vitamins B3, B6, C and beta-carotene. They're also a valuable source of iron, magnesium, zinc and calcium -- all necessary to promote optimal detoxification and elimination. Beets also support good gallbladder and liver health -- organs that are paramount for breaking down and removing toxins. The high amount of fibre in beetroot improves digestion and helps eliminate bodily waste.
Often known as seaweeds, these amazing foods house powerful antioxidants that help to alkalize the blood and strengthen the digestive tract. The algin in seaweeds absorb toxins from the digestive tract in much the same way a water softener removes the hardness from tap water. Sea vegetables offer the broadest range of minerals of any food, containing virtually all the minerals found in the ocean -- the same minerals that are found in human blood. Dulse is my personal fave.
Dandelions are considered a powerhouse food full of nutrients that are essential for anyone regularly eating the "Standard American Diet" (SAD). They're a rich source of minerals and provide a variety of phytonutrients. They're super antioxidants that support cleansing of the digestive tract and offer great liver support. Try adding dandelion leaves to your salad.
Broccoli is part of the powerhouse brassica family of vegetables. Broccoli contains important phytochemicals that are released when they're chopped, chewed, fermented, cooked or digested. The substances are released then break down into sulphorophanes, indole-3-carbinol and D-glucarate, which all have a specific effect on detoxification. Broccoli sprouts can actually provide more benefit than regular broccoli as they contain 20 times more sulfurophane. Add these to your salads and get creative with them in your meals.
One of my favourite "superfoods," flaxseeds serve many purposes. When detoxifying your body, it's essential to ensure toxins are eliminated properly. Ground flaxseeds provide a wonderful source of fibre that helps to bind and flush toxins from the intestinal tract. They're also a great source of health promoting omega 3 oils. Try consuming two tablespoons of ground flaxseeds in lemon water every morning.
Who doesn't love lemon? This wonderful fruit stimulates the release of enzymes and helps convert toxins into a water-soluble form that can be easily excreted from the body. Drinking lemon water, which is alkaline-forming, first thing in the morning will help to balance out the acidity of foods we've consumed. Don't forget to add your ground flaxseeds to enhance toxin removal.
No detox plan should be without some garlic: It's a powerful antiviral, antiseptic and antibiotic. Ridding your body of these pathogenic microbes can reduce endogenous (made by your body) toxins. The vital sulphuric compounds garlic contains makes it an essential detoxifier.
Artichokes are not only a very tasty food, they're also incredibly healthy. Artichokes have been shown to increase bile production and purify/protect the liver. They also have a mild diuretic effect on the kidneys, ensuring proper removal of toxins once the liver breaks them down.
Curcumin is the active ingredient in the spice turmeric, which gives it its yellow color. The rate at which your detox pathways function depends on your genes, your age, lifestyle and a good supply of nutrients involved in the detox process. Curcumin is used a lot in Ayurvedic Medicine to treat liver and digestive disorders.
Apples are full of wonderful nutrients. You get fibre, vitamins, minerals and many beneficial phytochemicals such as D-Glucarate, flavonoids and terpenoids. All of these substances are used in the detox process. One flavonoid, Phlorizidin (phlorizin), is thought to help stimulate bile production which helps with detox as the liver gets rid of some toxins through the bile. Apples are also a good source of the soluble fibre pectin, which can help detox metals and food additives from your body. It's best to eat only organic apples as the non-organic varieties are among the top 12 foods that've been found to contain the most pesticide residues.
Dr. John Dempster is a Naturopathic Doctor in Toronto. He's the founder of The Dempster Clinic -- Center for Integrated Medicine and embraces the biochemical uniqueness of each patient. With a large focus on regenerative and anti-aging medicine, he focuses on optimizing nutritional and biochemical imbalances. Dr. D can be contacted through his website, www.thedempsterclinic.com.