I have to tell you something – I’ve never done a juice cleanse.
Like most normal people the thought of not being able to eat, chew, for days on end makes me feel a little anxious.
I’ve done other types of detox diets, and I absolutely believe in giving your system a break for some deeper cleaning action every so often (in fact, I’m planning my own little “whole-foods detox” for the Spring and would love to get your input here).
Before all of that though, what I believe in first and foremost, is eating in a way that supports your body’s natural detox process every day with what I call “everyday detox foods.”
Your body is always detoxing, just like you feel like you’re always cleaning your house.
Because if you weren’t always cleaning your house, you know exactly what would happen. The clutter piles up until one day you can’t find your kitchen table.
When you stay on top of it though – pick up a little bit here and there, clean one thing a day… oh, who am I kidding, your house still feels messy right? But it’s livable and functioning, right?
This is how I like to think of detoxification working in our bodies. Detox is always happening trying to stay on top of the mess that so easily builds.
So we need to give our bodies the right “cleaning supplies” a.k.a. those every day detox foods to do the job.
Sure, every now and then, just like your house, you may want to really get in there and do a deeper clean. But if you’re not doing that every day maintenance clean, you’re gonna have a much bigger mess on your hands. Catch my drift?
With detox diets we’re made to think that detox is more about taking away than adding foods to your diet. I like to look at it the other way. Yes, it’s helpful to not add to the mess with foods that are hard for the body to digest (ie. animal products, processed carbs and combos of the two) but filling your body with everyday detox foods that give you the tools you needs to do the job is priority number one.
Here are the top 10 foods to focus on getting into your diet every day, or at least every week, so your body can do it’s natural detox thing.
Top 10 Everyday Detox Foods
As if you need another clear reason to add more dark leafy greens into your life, add detox support to that list. Greens (the darker the better) help support liver detox and feed healthy bacteria in gut which play a role in detoxification too. Other benefits that lend a hand at detox include oxygenating the blood, adding more fiber which helps carry and move toxins out of the body and help boost your body’s production of glutathione, your body’s main essential detoxification enzyme.
Whenever you see the deep blues, reds and purples of berries, think antioxidants. And antioxidants are basically anti-toxins. They protect your cells from the things that can damage them (ie. free radicals and toxic by-products). They’re like a protective force field for your cells.
If we’re going by colors, whites are like the scrub brush. They can get in there and do some real cleaning. Onions are like nature’s antibiotic. They’re extremely antimicrobial. Just think, what happens when you cut into one. Your eyes will immediately start to water. That’s part of the onion’s natural defense system. What’s happening is it’s releasing sulphur that triggers a reaction and will repel other insects or creatures that might take a bite out of it. So naturally, it can do the same for any bugs or microbes inside us too. Sulphur is also needed for the body to maintain it’s supply of glutathione (there it is again), that key detox enzyme.
White = scrub. Garlic is another super cleaner and antimicrobial as well. Just like onions, garlic’s offensive smell is designed to repel. When you cut into it, a chemical reaction happens that releases allicin and if it were to get into a cut or you rub your eyes, you may have found that it stings. High in sulphur as well it too helps body produce glutathione.
Herbs (like cilantro, parsley, basil)
I think herbs are the most underrated and under used item in the grocery store… or garden. Cilantro, for example, is a natural chelator and particularly good at pulling mercury and other heavy metals out of the body. Basil has proven antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. And parsley is a powerful antioxidant, too.
If you’ve been reading this blog or following me on Instagram, you know how much I love my hot lemon water. I drink it every morning because it’s a refreshing and hydrating way to start. It also does a lot to support digestion and detox, too. The natural acidity from the lemon literally gets your juices flowing – it triggers the liver to produce bile and that keeps food moving through your digestive tract. Studies have also shown the citric acid in lemon to be protective for the liver.
Inflammation is like the clutter in your house that keeps you from being able to clean the floors. So poweful anti-inflammatory foods like turmeric can help your body produce anti-inflammatory compounds that can reduce the clutter, so to speak. Turmeric also helps out the liver and supports the body’s natural detox process on it’s own too.
Olive oil does it’s own job to decrease chemicals in the body that are inflammatory. It helps protect DNA from free radicals that can cause damage and aids the body in producing glutathione, too.
Flax is high in fiber and particularly good at binding to and eliminate toxins. It works sort of like the broom, gathering up the dirt that got knocked loose and sweeping it away to finish the job. You always want to consume flax seed in either ground or oil form. It’s one of the most delicate fats because it’s high in Omega-3 fatty acids (anti-inflammatory!) which means they have a shorter shelf life than most other seeds.
I recommend buying whole flax seeds and grinding a smaller amount yourself in either a blender or coffee grinder. I keep a bag of the whole seeds in the freezer and grind about a cup or two at a time and store the ground seeds in a container the freezer as well. Whole flax seeds will last in the fridge or freezer for about a year. Ground flax seeds will last 1-2 months. To eat, add 1-2 tbsp (if new to flax, start with 1/2 tbsp to 1 tbsp) of freshly ground flax seeds to a smoothie, sprinkled on top of yogurt, cereal or a salad.
Because, let’s be honest, any excuse to eat chocolate… Really though, cacao has more antioxidants than some of the highest and most touted foods for their antioxidant content, like green tea, açaí berries and blueberries. Raw cacao has them all beat by a landslide. Cacao is most beneficial when it’s raw, so ideally it would be raw chocolate like my superfood dark chocolate. Next best is to look for dark chocolate that’s 70% or higher. The higher the percentage, the higher the cacao content and lower the sugar.
Down to Detox with Me This Spring?
Spring is when I like to do a natural, whole-foods detox. Nothing crazy, just more focus everyday detox foods and the extra detox Spring provides, plus getting a reset on the rest of food and life. It fits with the natural urge I get that time of year to clean EVERYTHING.
How does it sound – would you be interested in joining me this year? I think it would be really fun to do something like this as a group so we can support each other and make it feel more like a party and less like a total you know what.
If you’re interested, intrigued, want to know more when I know more… fill out this quick 5-question survey that’ll tell me more about what you want out of a detox too. I’ll add you to the list and send you more info soon.
P.S. Want some extra help getting more of these everyday detox foods into your diet? Get my FREE 3-Day Meal Plan. It’s chock full of recipes that use just about every single item on the list. Then if you like that, check out Dinner in 10 – my online cooking class and 4-week totally done-for-you, don’t-even-have-to-think-about-it meal plan.
Megan Adams Brown, CHC, helps families find healthy routines that work, with no more “what’s for dinner?” stress, and a lot better food. Her family meal plans help moms take charge of their kitchen and their own health, leading to more vegetables and less junk all around. Megan also shares kid-approved, allergy-friendly recipes on her blog. To learn more click here.