5 Detoxifying Foods

By: CHRISTINA COLAVECCHIA

Detoxifying diets are gaining popularity as celebrities and exercise gurus alike are advocating the importance of introducing a detox plan into healthy living routines.  With the promise of weight loss, healthy looking skin, and a stronger immune system, it’s hard to ignore the benefits an intense detox diet can produce.  However, complete detox diets and programs can seem drastic, forcing you to cut out foods you love and leaving you feeling drained and starved.  Instead of detoxing through fasting or ‘juice-only’ diets, introduce these five foods into your meal plan and reap the benefits of detoxing without the extreme diet routine.


1. Garlic: Detoxing essentially involves minimizing the intake of chemicals ingested from food and removing toxins from the body via a specialized diet.  Garlic is a blood cleanser and a natural antibiotic.  It reduces blood fats, thinning the blood and lowering blood pressure.  Garlic increases phagocytes in the body, which boosts the ability of white blood cells to fight off dangerous bacterial infections.  Luke Corey, a professional dietician and owner of CHN (Complete Health and Nutrition), explains that a detox diet should work in two ways: by restricting hazardous, toxic foods (like processed foods, dairy and red meat) and by increasing health promoting foods (like water, fruits and vegetables).  Garlic has the ability to control and counter blood clotting, making it not only useful in preventing blood disease, but warding off cancer, too.  Introduce garlic into your diet by adding it to your favourite meals or by taking (odorless) garlic capsules that can be found at any health store.  Remember garlic needs to be sliced, cooked or chewed before its enzymes and health benefits can be stimulated.


2. Lemon: “Avoiding foods that are high in toxins allows your body to use its natural processes to ‘cleanse’ and remove the toxins from your body,” says Corey.  “By including detoxifying foods your body’s cleansing system is provided with a natural boost, making it more efficient and effective.”  The juice from lemons contains valuable vitamins and minerals that help the body detox and resist various diseases.  The vitamin C found in lemons helps rejuvenate the skin by generating collagen in the skin’s tissue, while the citric acid helps reduce the risk of heart disease, stomach and oral cancer.  Lemon juice also has the ability to speed up the body’s metabolism.  Work lemon into your diet by brewing some natural lemon tea or by combining lemon juice with warm water and honey.


3. Spinach: Spinach is one of the world’s most powerful detox vegetables.  A single ounce of spinach contains 300-600 mg of chlorophyll, which is a very beneficial detoxing compound because it binds with toxins and allows the body to remove them from the system.  The high chlorophyll content helps to boost blood flow and oxygen, helping the body cleanse itself and remove even more toxins. The detoxifying process involves the liver, intestines, kidneys, lungs, skin, blood and lymphatic systems. “These systems identify toxic substances and proceed to remove them from the body.  Toxins and chemicals from the foods we eat, the liquids we drink, smoking and other unhealthy practices build up in our systems,” says Corey.  A simple spinach salad is the best way to integrate the vegetable in your diet because the spinach is kept raw (retaining its powerful chlorophyll levels) and can be combined with other detox vegetables (like cilantro or lemon).


4. Watermelon: A single wedge of watermelon (or one-sixteenth of a full melon) has only 91.5 calories and is 92 percent water (the other eight percent is mostly sugar).  A watermelon wedge also contains about 1.4 g of fiber and is high in lypocene (an antioxidant compound that gives the watermelon its color), vitamin A and vitamin C.  Watermelon helps the liver process ammonia – a toxic nitrogen-containing waste product left over from amino acid metabolism.  Watermelon helps to detox the body by providing the catalyst for the body’s systems to initiate its cleansing processes.  “Similar to putting a key in an ignition, these foods activate the detoxification process,” says Corey.  Watermelon provides the fiber and fluid (along with key antioxidants) to facilitate the detoxification process; fiber and water bind with the toxins to help transport and remove them from the body.  Watermelon can be eaten alone or turned into juice or a smoothie using the rind, flesh and seeds, all important and nutritious parts of the fruit.


5. Green Tea: Green tea is an invaluable supplement to help flush out toxins and cleanse the body.  The Chinese and Japanese swear by green tea’s medicinal benefits because it is packed with vitamins and minerals. Consuming green tea is an effective way to stimulate the cleansing process while helping to keep the body hydrated at the same time.  Some cells in our body absorb the toxins and chemicals in our systems (especially fat cells). “Over time, the health of the cell can start to deteriorate and could result in serious illness, disease or disorder,” says Corey. Green tea helps improve digestion so that food is broken down efficiently into energy and the toxins are separated and flushed out of the body and the nutrients are absorbed for good health.  Combine green tea with honey or lemon for optimal nutritional benefits.


Full detox diets should be carefully controlled and planned out with the help of a dietician or other health professional.

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