Have you overindulged this weekend or do you feel the need to detox as we head towards summer and the season of the swimsuit?
These 17 top detox foods have been shown to provide the best all-round nutrients that work hard to get rid of the toxins in your body. Have you ever contemplated clean eating as an alternative to dieting, helping your body get in better control?
Here are the foods the experts say are best for you to swap to and why:
“An apple a day keeps the doctor away” was the first nutritional advice myself and many children heard from their moms. For this reason we call them “the first powerfood.” Scientists in the Ukraine have used apples to purify the area around Chernobyl after the nuclear leak. Apples contain pectin, Vitamin C, quercetin and antioxidant nutrients that lower fat and cholesterol levels. Pectin is a fiber also found in citrus fruits, beets and berries that binds heavy metals (such as lead and mercury) in the colon and encourages their excretion. It also helps the body excrete food additives.
Would you believe that the avocado is considered by many nutritional experts to be a perfect food? Many consider it a superfood. Avocado contains glutathione, an antioxidant that fights free radicals. This combines with fat soluble toxins, particularly alcohol, to make them water-soluble. Levels of glutathione decrease as we age which could explain why hangovers worsen as we get older. Researchers at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, USA, found that elderly people, whose levels of glutathione were higher, were healthier. They were also less likely to suffer from arthritis, which many experts believe is a disease aggravated by excess toxicity.
The ancients considered the artichoke full of health benefits, using it as an aphrodisiac, a diuretic, a breath freshener, and even a deodorant. Artichoke increases bile production. One of bile’s functions is to carry toxins to the bowel where they can be excreted. According to research, artichoke can increase bile flow by 127 per cent in 30 minutes after being eaten. Studies from the University of Tubingen in Germany show that damage to the liver caused by free radicals is dramatically reduced when artichoke extracts are present.
The Romans were known to use the beetroot to maintain their sexual health and as a blood-purifying tonic. It is able to absorb toxic metals. At Leadville, a polluted mine site in Colorado, USA, beets and other crops such as carrot and banana are being used to filter 70 per cent of pollutants from water. Beetroot also contains methionine, which helps to reduce cholesterol levels and purify natural waste products from the body.
Cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and their cruciferous cousins are among the healthiest things you can eat. Sulforaphane is released when eating cruciferous vegetables such as Brussels sprouts and cabbage, but particularly broccoli. Sulforaphane has anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties.
Garlic has a variety of potent sulphur-containing compounds which are the reason for its characteristic pungent odour. Allicin, the vital compound among them, is known to have great anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-oxidant properties. Toxins such as mercury, certain food additives and chemical versions of the hormone oestrogen bind with sulphur, enabling the body to excrete them.
Packed with more vitamin C than an equivalent amount of orange, the bright green flesh of the kiwifruit speckled with tiny black seeds adds a dramatic tropical flair to any fruit salad. Vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant, which also helps the body manufacture the vital detoxifier glutathione. A study published in the American Journal of Nutrition found that when people were given 500g of vitamin C a day, levels of glutathione increased by 50 per cent in just two weeks.
Prunes are primarily famous for being a laxative because they are rich in fiber. These are the ultimate antioxidant food and provide twice as many antioxidants as blueberries, their nearest competitor. They contain tartaric acid, a natural laxative and dihydropheyl isatin, which triggers the intestine to contract. Prunes reduce the time faeces stay in the system thereby reducing the risk of toxic re-absorption.
Scientists have recently concluded that sea vegetables offer perhaps the broadest range of minerals of any food found on earth. Studies at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, have shown that seaweeds will bind in the body with radioactive waste.
Watercress is the latest wonder food in the battle against ageing. It increases detox enzymes in the body, and may act directly on particular toxins. When smokers were given 170g of watercress a day at the Norwich food research Centre in the UK, they excreted higher than average levels of known carcinogens in their urine.
Alfalfa is a very nutritious herb with many benefits. A natural detoxifying agent, alfalfa has been used for centuries to support good health. High in a fibre called plantix, alfalfa has the ability to bind to toxins including some drugs and food additives. This isn’t the only benefit, as it is also rich in the minerals, amino acids and fatty acids, which our body needs for good health and to detoxify.
Rich in vitamin C, asparagus is also packed with fibre and the antioxidant rutin, as well as being another rich source of glutathione. Research as the Vegetable Research Unit at Cornell University, USA, shows that it stimulates the kidneys and bowel, increasing the rate at which toxins leave the body.
Exceptionally high in minerals, bananas can reduce the uptake of heavy metals. Bananas also provide potassium, which helps to regulate fluid in the body and reduce fluid retention. The less fluid you retain the more toxins you excrete.
A bowl of bran cereal contains 15g of fiber – half the recommended daily amount. This is beneficial for cleansing as fiber cleans the bowel and stimulates its movements thereby decreasing the time food spends there and so reducing the risk of toxin re-absorption. Wholegrain cereals have also been proven to contain high levels of antioxidants.
Brazil nuts are packed with selenium, a mineral that may protect against prostate cancer and other diseases. Selenium is a vital detox nutrient that neutralizes free radicals created in the body, particularly those caused by smoking.
With this crunchy orange powerfood, you get vitamin A and a host of other powerful health benefits including beautiful skin and cancer prevention. It is a vital source of the antioxidants alpha-and beta-carotene. Carrots mop up heavy metals in the body and reduce cholesterol levels in the blood, which in turn, lowers the risk of arterial furring and promotes heart health.
Eggs contain high levels of lecithin, which helps improve fat digestion in the body and also improves liver function. Eggs also have cysteine, which helps to prevent damage from alcohol.
Do you have a favourite detox food?