Spring has finally arrived! I don’t usually find myself waiting until the end of May to say this, but I think the snows are finally behind us, and the garden is planted. Now that the weather has warmed somewhat, our bodies are also starting to warm and be ready for the exercise and outdoor activities of summer. In addition to getting our bodies into ideal shape for the summer through exercise, we can also help to boost vitality through cleansing. For more information on what spring cleaning and detoxification is, you can look at my article “What is Detoxification?” from last spring. There are many detoxification protocols out there, and finding the right one will depend on your constitution, health status, and commitment to the program. However, an easy first step is to start incorporating detoxifying foods into each meal using the basic theory of detoxification: improve elimination of waste through optimizing the function of the digestive tract, urinary tract, skin and liver. Here is a list of my top ten favorites:
Garlic can help to reduce blood triglycerides and improve circulation and sweating to remove wastes via the skin. It also helps stimulate digestion.
Apples are a great source of insoluble and soluble fibers. The insoluble fiber helps to move waste through the digestive tract. When cooked, the pectins found in apples help to absorb excess cholesterol, delay absorption of sugars into the bloodstream, and bulk the stool.
8. Dandelion Greens
Dandelion greens, which are commercially available in many areas, act as a diuretic to help remove wastes through the urine. The beauty of dandelion greens is that they also replace any minerals lost through the process of diuresis.
7. Sweet Potato
Sweet potatoes are thought of as one of the least allergenic foods available. Unless you have an intolerance to all carbohydrate, sweet potatoes are a good source of lower glycemic carbohyrates that help to soothe the digestive tract and decrease inflammation.
Cilantro and its seed coriander are calming to the digestion and help to dispel gas. Cilantro also helps to convert blood cholesterols into bile which can aid in reducing blood cholesterol levels. Cilantro extracts have also been shown to remove mercury from a water solution, so there is speculation about whether cilantro could aid in mercury detoxification when consumed.
Hijiki, Wakame, and Kombu (all types of seaweed) have all been shown to increase breakdown of fats in the body. Seaweeds are also a good source of iodine, which is necessary for proper thyroid function. These two actions together help to boost metabolism and removal of excess fats from the system. Traditional Chinese Medicine also regards seaweed as a detoxifier which mobilizes heavy metals and turns them into inorganic salts that can easily be excreted through the urine.
Lemon and lemon juice are wonderfully bitter and sour. Taken especially before meals, they help to start the digestive process early, which makes the digestive absorb nutrients and eliminate wastes more effectively.
Kale and other members of the cabbage family contain indoles, which help the body metabolize and remove excess steroid hormones such as estrogen. Members of this family have also been found to repair damage to the liver. Kale is also high in fiber and chlorophyll to increase energy and optimize digestion.
Flaxseed is high in omega 3 fatty acids, which help to balance cholesterol and reduce inflammation. Even more important for detoxification though is the high concentration of soluble fibers that help to trap excess fats and cholesterol, bulk the stool, and ensure effective elimination of waste via the digestive tract.
There is extensive research supporting the protective and regenerative effect of beets on the cells of the liver. This effect has even been seen with molasses derived from sugar beets. The pigments in beets have also been shown to have a protective effect against the formation of cancer cells. Beets are also great for assisting with effective waste elimination through the bowels.