Detoxification – A Basic Understanding
The concept of detoxification play a significant role in the beliefs of millions. Within the context of body detox, the goal is to eliminate toxins accumulated throughout the body, which may be the culprit of a variety of physical and mental ailments. In order to understand detoxification, you must understand what you wish to eliminate. Most commonly, the act of detoxification refers to eliminating toxins derived from several primary sources:
- Chemicals found in processed foods, such as flavor additives and preservatives
- Chemicals derived from growing techniques, such as the improper use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and antibiotics in meat products
- Naturally formed toxins due to an imbalance in your digestive system
- Stress-derived toxins
- Toxins derived from pharmaceutical medications – more importantly, the harboring of toxins in bodily organs, such as the liver and kidneys
- Environmental toxins absorbed by simply living, such as cigarette smoke, car exhaust and chemicals found in public drinking water
The accumulation of toxins through the aforementioned is believed to be the root cause of a myriad of health complications; ranging from arthritis to cancers. Alternative medicine practitioners believe that by promoting the release, or cleansing, of these toxins its adverse health reactions can be reversed or prevented.
According to the NYU Langone Medical Center, there is very little scientific data to support the majority of detoxification claims. However, this does not mean the act of detoxification is a shame. In fact, the body naturally eliminates toxins through unique detox processes. Therefore, the most effective detox program is one that supports this natural elimination through the involvement of nutritious and antioxidant-rich foods.
Although the latest detox program may be nothing more than a sleek advertising campaign, scientific evidence suggests that by consuming certain foods, you’ll naturally support the release of harmful compounds while simultaneously protecting vital organs through vitamins, minerals, essential nutrients and potent antioxidants. With this in mind, view the following list of detox foods as not a means of completely eliminating toxins, but rather as a way to support the natural removal of harmful compounds through proper nutrition.
THE MOST POWERFUL DETOX FOODS ON THE PLANET
The following list of foods were gathered through its ability to naturally promote the release of toxins while simultaneously supporting the healthy function of various bodily systems. Try as often as you can to incorporate some or all of these food sources into your daily diet. Soon after its incorporation, you’ll begin to notice the positive benefits associated with toxin removal and increased nutrient concentrations.
#1 | Brazil Nuts
A common, and delicious, treat, Brazil Nuts are among the most powerful detox foods for eliminating heavy metals from your system. Loaded with a high concentration of selenium, this simple food ingredient effectively purges mercury from your body.
#2 | Goji Berries
Goji berry on a wooden spoon
These delicious berries are often compared to raisins; however, they pack far more nutrients and vitamins than their grape counterparts. Goji berries consist of a high concentration of vitamin C and beta-carotene. Vitamin C is an essential vitamin for a myriad of bodily processes – from protecting your skin to promoting healthy cardiovascular function – however, its high antioxidant content is its true source of benefit. Increasing your antioxidant count helps eliminate free radicals from your body, which are the compounds responsible for a myriad of diseases and chronic conditions. The beta-carotene content within this fruit directly influences liver performance – a vital organ in the process of detoxification.
#3 | Seaweed
This common ingredient in sushi and other Asian cuisine is perhaps one of the most powerful natural detoxification foods. Packed with a host of nutrients and compounds, seaweed effectively strips heavy metals, such as lead, cadmium and strontium from your body while increasing your serum levels of iodine. If you don’t know, iodine naturally boosts your metabolism, which helps keep unwanted fat accumulation at by while simultaneously increasing your natural ability to eliminate toxins.
#4 | Onions
This popular culinary ingredient is an effective detox food source as it contains a high concentration of sulfur-based amino acids. According to the latest research, these amino acids directly influence the health and function of your liver. Studies suggest the active compounds in onion boost the liver’s ability to eliminate toxins and rejuvenate healthy liver cells. However, it’s important to eat this food raw as its cooked form features a much lower concentration of its medicinal compounds.
#5 | Sesame Seeds
A common ingredient in fast food burgers and Asian cuisine, these small seeds provide great detox support. Through its many active compounds, sesame seeds are believed to form a protective barrier around your liver, which prevents damage caused by alcohol and other harmful toxins. Due to its ability to directly influence your liver, if you’re currently taking liver-specific medications, discuss the safety of sesame seeds with your physician.
#6 | Beets
While as a child you may have been opposed to this bright red vegetable, as an adult you should embrace its health-promoting attributes. Not only has beets been proven to boost natural energy levels and reduce the symptoms of hypertension (high blood pressure), but preliminary evidence suggests the daily consumption of beets decreases your likelihood of developing cancer while simultaneously providing a boost in mental cognition. Its unique combination of phytochemicals and minerals effectively target toxins within your liver and bloodstream while supporting your body’s ability to ward off infections.
#7 | Blueberries
Do you suffer from chronic inflammation and pain? Instead of reaching for a synthetic bottle of aspirin, turn to nature’s aspirin. Blueberries contain a host of active compounds known to react with inflammation and pain along the same lines as aspirin. In fact, consuming 300 grams of blueberries over a period of time can actually reverse and protect DNA damage caused by free radicals. The primary active compounds in blueberries feature antibiotic, antiviral and potent antioxidant properties, which help eliminate toxins/free radicals while forming protective barriers at the cellular level.
Many people do understand how toxins actually affect their body. Did you know that toxin accumulation can actually reduce your brain function and mental abilities? However, according to a recent study where patients consumed 2 to 2.5 cups of blueberries per day for 12 weeks found those who followed this diet plan experienced an increase in memory and overall cognitive functions.
Researchers of the study believe that the blueberries ability to ward off mental decline and improve brain function is due to its high antioxidant count, which eliminates free radicals. Since free radicals are capable of altering the DNA of cells and tissues, eradicating them from your body may be the most effective step at preventing chronic diseases and conditions. In order to maximize the antioxidant capabilities of blueberries, it’s important to forgo store-bought items and seek out fresh, all-organic blueberries. While you may not think this is important, a study comparing the antioxidant concentration between organic and non-organic blueberries found the organic blueberries features a significantly higher concentration of phenol antioxidants and anthocyanin antioxidants than its non-organic counterpart.
#8 | Avocados
As time moves forward, and more research is completed, avocados are swiftly becoming one of the most medicinally-rich foods out there. Perhaps one of the most exciting compounds in avocados is the nutrient called glutathione. According to research outlined by the University of Michigan, this nutrient is capable of blocking the formation of 30 different cardinogens while simultaneously the liver’s ability to eliminate synthetic chemicals from the body. Along with its detoxification properties, avocado is believed to also lower body weight, increase good cholesterol levels and reducing the severity (and even development) of arthritis.
#9 | Almonds
This common nut is one of the most effective sources of the Vitamin E compound known as alpha-tocopherol, which is the form of Vitamin E your body prefers and readily utilizes. Believed to contain a high amount of antioxidants, almonds can effectively remove free radicals from your body while simultaneously introducing high level of calcium, magnesium, fiber and protein to help eliminate impurities from your intestines.
#10 | Broccoli
This powerhouse detox food specifically interacts with various liver enzymes to convert toxins into a compound capable of being effortlessly eliminated from your body. As with onions, the active compound in broccoli are far more potent when consumed raw. If you must cook it, do not microwave the broccoli this eliminates the nutritional content. The active compound in broccoli, known as sulforaphane, actively protects your body from cancers, osteoporosis, allergies and diabetes while also supporting full-body detoxification.
#11 | Cilantro
This beloved culinary ingredient can be found in a wide array of dishes, but did you know it is one of the most effective detox foods for eliminating heavy metals from your body? With a high concentration of plant-based antioxidants, as well as a specialized compound known as dodecenal, cilantro mobilized metals out of tissues while potentially protecting the body from bacterial infections. Add a dash of cilantro to salads, sandwiches or even smoothies for a natural detox boost.
According to data derived from the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, cilantro (also referred to as coriander) contains a powerful protective agents capable of combating a wide variety of illnesses and toxin, such as those found in food borne illnesses. Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, many turn to cilantro as a means of safeguarding their body from the harmful affects of inflammation. In the realm of detoxification, by eliminating inflammation, the body is better able to identify, capture and eliminate harmful toxins as its primary focus is transferred from the inflammatory responses to its real job – seeking out and destroying harmful compounds and elements.
#12 | Cinnamon
Cinnamon sticks with powder
The primary active compounds in cinnamon are unique chemicals known as cinnamyl acetate, cinnamyl alcohol and cinnamaldeyde; however, it’s the latter compound that’s showcased true medicinal qualities. Classified as an anti-microbial food, cinnamon has been noted as having potent antibacterial properties, which inhibit the formation and progression of certain bacterial strains and fungi, such as Candida.
According to the latest research, cinnamon is believed to have one of the highest antioxidant counts out of any food, which makes it a top choice for detoxification treatments and programs. Along with its ability to eliminate toxins from your body, cinnamon is a powerful herbal remedy for everything from nausea to diabetes and fatigue to menstruation cramps.
The potency of cinnamon as a detoxification agent due to its antioxidant properties have outranked super foods, such as oregano and garlic. Due to its highly active polyphenol antioxidants, free radicals throughout the body are attacked and eliminated. By doing so, the oxidative damage caused by the destructive patterns of free radicals is reversed. Along with its potent antioxidant capabilities, research shows cinnamon helps detoxify the body by:
- Eliminating Inflammation throughout the body
- Supporting Tissue Repair
- Reducing the harmful toxin known as LDL cholesterol while stabilizing the HDL cholesterol levels
- Control toxins responsible for neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease
- Eliminate bacterial and fungal toxins from your body; specifically respiratory tract infections
- Eliminate toxins in your mouth that result in tooth decay and bad breath
While the power and potency of cinnamon is impressive, it’s important that you choose the “best” type of cinnamon. When utilizing this herb as a medicine, it’s best to purchase Ceylon Cinnamon, as it features a high concentration of its medicinal compounds and a low concentration of the compound known as coumarin, which can be quite harmful if consumed in large doses. Unfortunately, the most commonly used cinnamon is not Ceylon, but rather Cassia. Therefore, before you begin a cinnamon detox, it’s imperative to visit your local herbal foods store and purchase Ceylon, and not use the cinnamon you find at your local grocery store.
#13 | Fennel
Typically used as a flavoring ingredient in culinary dishes, fennel is a potent source of fiber, folate and Vitamin C. When consumed, the active compounds in fennel directly influence the conversion of homocysteine – a dangerous molecule – into other, less harmful molecules. Due to its high vitamin C content, the immune system is supported and its fiber concentration helps to eliminate toxins from the digestive system. Perhaps one of the most exciting compounds within fennel is a substance known as anethole. According to data published in the 2000 edition of Oncogene, researchers found that this unique compound inhibited the inflammatory chromosome within cancerous cells, which effectively inhibits the growth and development of cancerous tumors.
#14 | Flaxseeds
Flaxseeds in Wooden Spoon
One of the most important steps when detoxifying your body is ensuring the toxins can be easily evacuated through proper waste channels, such as through bowel movements. Flaxseeds are a particularly powerful source of fiber, which helps attract and flush toxins through the intestinal tract. Not only does flaxseeds support your digestive system, but its concentration of omega-3 fatty acids support a variety of natural bodily processes, all of which play an integral role in the natural elimination of toxins and other harmful compounds.
#15 | Ginger
Slices of Ginger
Touted as one of the world’s leading spices for fighting off diseases, ginger is perhaps the most important detox food in this list. Upon consumption, the active compounds in ginger increases your metabolism, supports liver function and effectively flushes waste out of your body. Many Herbalism practitioners suggest consuming ginger to flush the liver, especially in those who are suffering from fatty liver caused by excessive alcohol consumption or an excess of toxic food sources.
Researchers believe the detoxification properties of ginger are due to its high concentration of pungent phenol compounds, such as shogaols and gingerols. According to data outlined by the University of Maryland, the most potent uses for ginger involve the digestive system. It’s believed the active compounds in this food source actively work to restore balance in the gut by eliminating toxins and impurities.
#16 | Garlic
Utilized as a culinary spice and a medicinal plant for thousands of years, there isn’t much garlic is unable to treat. However its most potent – and studied – uses involve cleansing the body of impurities. The primary active compound within garlic, allicin, is among the most potent antioxidants in the natural world. Along with boosting your immune system, this compound narrows its focus on the liver and promotes the release of toxins while actively seeking out free radicals and other harmful compounds. Researchers believe the sulfur content within garlic provides its primary detoxification abilities. In fact, several studies have found garlic to be among the most powerful antibiotics – in the natural and synthetic world.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, the active compounds in garlic do far more than simply “promote” the release of toxins and the destruction of harmful free radicals. In fact, it’s believed that through its powerful detoxification properties, garlic is an effective treatment for:
- The Common Cold – Evidence suggests consuming raw garlic cloves have fewer colds and recovered from colds much faster than those who did not supplement with this potent herb.
- Cancer – In a large-scale study, which consisted of 41,000 middle-aged women, those who regularly consumed raw garlic cloves featured a 35 percent lowered risk of developing colorectal cancer. In fact, this same result has been echoed through seven different and isolated clinical trials.
- Cancer Treatment Support – In another study where researchers looked at the detoxification and bodily support functions of garlic, 50 patients with inoperable cancers consumed aged garlic extract for six months. At the conclusion of the study, researchers found the patients experienced an increase in quality of life and bodily functions.
#17 | Green Tea
Green Tea with Mint
While not technically a food source, no detox list is complete without proclaiming the wonders of this ancient compound. Consumed for thousands of years, green tea contains some of the most powerful – and concentrated – plant-based antioxidants, known as polyphenols. The most active of these compounds is a chemical known as epigallocatechin-3-gallate, or EGCG. These compounds, specifically EGCG, attack free radicals (toxins) circulating throughout your body while simultaneously supporting a host of bodily functions.
The antioxidants within green tea effectively neutralize a variety of free radicals, which supports the treatment and prevention of a host of chronic conditions. In an effort to further eliminate waste and toxins from your body, the active compounds in green tea are known for its powerful diuretic properties. In the most fundamental sense, by consuming green tea your body eliminates stored fluids through increased urine production. By increasing urine output, you effectively cleanse your liver and kidneys while promoting the release of stored and accumulated toxins throughout these – and other – organs.
According to data outlined by the University of Maryland Medical Center, the active compounds in green tea are believed to actively fight against the following forms of cancer:
- Bladder Cancer
- Breast Cancer
- Ovarian Cancer
- Colorectal Cancer
- Esophageal Cancer
- Lung Cancer
- Pancreatic Cancer
- Prostate Cancer
- Skin Cancer
- Stomach Cancer
Although the aforementioned uses are still under investigation by the scientific community, it’s believed the benefits are directly caused by green tea’s ability to ward off toxins and correct the damage caused by free radicals. To experience detoxification benefits of green tea consume up to five glasses of freshly brewed green tea per day. If you’re sensitive to caffeine, consume a green tea extract supplement instead of drinking the tea.
#18 | Kale
While natural health proponents have always proclaimed the wonders of kale, this vegetable is just now beginning to receive the attention it deserves. According to the latest in dietary research, it’s believed specific compounds derived from the plant’s glucosinolate content supports detoxification at the genetic level. Ultimately, this means kale may remove toxins and correct impurities found at the most basic cellular level, which may help ward off a variety of chronic conditions. Kale consists of a variety of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds, which make it a recommended dietary addition for those suffering from chronic diseases and those wishing to eliminate toxins from their body.
#19 | Lemongrass
Popular in Asian cultures, lemongrass is commonly known throughout the United States as an aromatic addition to candles and hand lotions; however, the raw form of this ingredient is known to provide a host of detoxification benefits. While research supports its use for detoxing a variety of bodily organs, its most powerful uses are found in the liver, kidneys, digestive system and the bladder.
In terms of detoxification, these are the most important organs to support as they are responsible for extracting toxins from your body and eliminating them through bodily waste. While there are many purposed uses of this detox food, the two most recognized abilities of lemongrass is as an anti fungal and anticancer agent. As an anti fungal agent, lemongrass has been shown to effectively eliminate a variety of fungi from the body, which is one of the main reasons many decide to undergo a detoxification program.
As an anticancer compound, data published by the Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine found lemongrass oil effectively killed cancer cells by triggering a natural process known as apoptosis, which is the cellular death of cancerous cells. The most effective way to utilize this herb is by consuming a pure lemongrass tea each day.
#20 | Olive Oil
Olives and Olive Oil
One of the most common home detox methods is by consuming olive oil mixed with a freshly squeezed fruit juice. For many years, people believed this was nothing but a useless home remedy; however, according to the latest research, olive oil is one of the most powerful substances for naturally detoxifying your body. Olive oil contains a host active compounds that not only support your digestive system’s ability to eliminate waste, but also actively support the removal of toxins at a cellular level. When utilizing this detox food, make sure to not cook on high heat, as this eliminates its detoxification properties.
Ideally, you should consume raw, uncooked olive oil – such as a salad dressing or to dip your freshly made bread in. Perhaps one of the most active areas of research into olive oil is its ability to protect your body from certain forms of cancers. Out of the 25 large-scale clinical trials, researchers from the Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research Institute located in Milan, Italy found that supplementing with pure extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), the risk of developing breast, upper digestive tract and respiratory tract cancers was significantly lower than those who did not supplement with olive oil. It’s believed the powerful anti-cancer properties of EVOO are due to its ability to flush specific toxins and chemicals from the body.
#21 | Parsley
Many people do not know that parsley – a common culinary spice – is actually one of the most effective natural sources for whole body detoxification. Some of the primary active compounds in parsley include vitamins A, C and K along with beta-carotene. These compounds actively work to support the removal of toxins from your bladder and kidneys while simultaneously providing a protective barrier against future toxin damage.
Parsley is a common ingredient in herbal remedies designed to prevent ailments, such as bladder infections and kidney stones. It effectively removes toxin buildup by supporting the release of waste. However, in terms of whole body detoxification, researchers believe it’s the compound luteolin that is the true star. This compound features highly reactive molecules, known as oxygen radicals, which actively work to eliminate and prevent oxygen-based cellular damage, such as those caused by free radicals. Preliminary research also suggests this compound increases the antioxidant threshold within your bloodstream, which ultimately means greater antioxidant concentrations for fewer circulating toxins/free radicals.
#22 | Turmeric
Turmeric with Turmeric Paste
The primary active compound in turmeric, which is a common culinary spice in Indian cuisine, is a substance known as curcumin. The use of this herb for detoxification purposes harkens to its importance in Ayurveda Medicine. In this realm, turmeric is used to treat a variety of digestive diseases and liver ailments. The antioxidant concentration within this spice is believed to help prevent serious damage caused by toxins – specifically in the liver and digestive organs.
According to data outlined by the University of Maryland Medical Center, the active compounds in turmeric have been shown to actively combat the toxins that cause a variety of cancers. It’s believed the high antioxidant count within this herb the forms a protective barrier around cells, which inhibits the genetic mutations needed to create cancerous cells. The most effective way to consume this spice is by taking up to 600 milligrams of standardized curcumin powder up to three times per day.
#23 | Watercress
Beetroot and Watercress Salad
This delicious ingredient can be found in a wide variety of culinary dishes; however, it’s its ability to flush toxins from your body that truly makes this compound stand out. When consumed, watercress is believed to support the release of specific liver enzymes manufactured for the purpose of eliminating toxins from this organ. By supporting the release and cleansing of liver-based toxins, this vital organ can operate at fully functionality, which reduces your overall toxin load.
#24 | Cabbage
Some of the most powerful and potent detox foods are those that not only provide a high concentration of antioxidants and other nutrients, but also one that supports the natural movement of waste matter. Cabbage may not be your favorite vegetable, but as a detox food source, it’s one of the most potent. Not only does cabbage support the natural function of your liver, which helps reduce circulating toxins within your blood, but this common food directly supports the movement of fecal matter from your digestive system. Constipation and impacted colons can be a dangerous situation for many reasons; however, in the realm of toxins, a body unable to fully evacuate waste matter is one actually harboring these toxins. Cabbage effectively stimulates your intestines and works to fully evacuate waste materials, which is essential for a healthy body.