Sometimes, you just need a detox. Perhaps the holidays hit your diet hard, or a vacation set you off track on your wellness journey, or maybe you just had a little too much *ahem* fun over the weekend.
A detox can be a great way to reset your system, especially when you don’t make it super restrictive or super stress-inducing.
“[Some] programs recommend fasting, a potentially risky practice for some people, which may actually suppress detoxification pathways in the body. This is why many health practitioners advise against this practice,” writes Robin Foroutan, MS, RDN.
Instead, Foroutan recommends a more sustainable detoxification practice of “removing highly processed foods and foods to which some people are sensitive, such as dairy, gluten, eggs, peanuts and red meat.”
Rather than eliminating foods as part of your detox, you may be better served by adding foods that cleanse the system and boost your gut. So what are those magic foods? We reached out to the experts for their top detoxifying ingredients:
PrebioticsPrebiotic foods (like asparagus) help maintain our gut microbiome, ensuring the good bacteria we have in our gut remains balanced and healthy. They do this by giving the bacteria a food source, ensuring a thriving environment. Prebiotics contain fibers and natural sugars that encourage the growth of essential gut bacteria.
In food form, prebiotics include some common and not-so-common foods. Vegetable sources include: garlic, onions, and savoy cabbage. Legumes include: chickpeas, baked beans, and lentils. Fruit options include bananas, grapefruit, and watermelon, and whole grain foods include oats, bran, and barley.
Lisa Richards, Nutritionist, The Candida Diet
TurmericCurcumin is the active ingredient found in turmeric. Curcumin is said to be the key to unlocking turmeric’s benefits. Turmeric is a potent antioxidant that helps fight viruses and bacteria-related diseases by boosting your immune system.
Studies have shown that turmeric is also beneficial in controlling the inflammation linked to asthma and allergies, and it has phytochemical components that are potent antioxidants and have antifungal properties.
One of the major drawbacks of curcumin or turmeric supplementation is its poor bioavailability. There are certain ingredients that enhance the absorption of turmeric. Of these, black pepper is the most commonly used. Adding black pepper to your turmeric can enhance its absorption.
Turmeric can boost the levels of ‘feel-good’ hormones and improve DHA synthesis. It can also enhance glutathione production, which leads to improved cognitive function and greater support for a healthy neurotransmitter balance.
Anju Mobin, Certified Nutritionist, BestforNutrition
Ready to add some turmeric to your detox? KOR’s Vitality combines vibrant Hawaiian turmeric root with black pepper in one itty bitty cold-pressed juice shot, so you can make curcumin a part of your detox diet.
BlueberriesThis superfood is number one on the charts in terms of detoxification. Blueberries are rich in polyphenols (some even refer to them as “nature's aspirin”) and they’re an anti-inflammatory food that helps reduce damage to our precious gut lining. Not to mention blueberries support liver and kidney function by blocking bad bacteria and improving overall alkalinity.
Ellen Postolowski, Integrative Food Chef/Health Coach
Leafy greensLeafy greens are good for a detox diet, because they contain a lot of fiber, which aids in digestion and helps flush out toxins in the body through the bowels. Greens, like spinach and kale, are rich in the antioxidant beta carotene, which helps your body produce Vitamin A. Eating spinach can also suppress your hunger, because it contains thylakoids, an appetite-suppressing compound that reduces cravings, making it easier to stick to a healthy diet.
Kevin Daly, Workplace Wellness Expert, Zevo Health
Avocados are delicious and detox-friendly. They are a significant dietary source of potassium and glutathione. Potassium-rich foods support your liver in the detoxification process, while glutathione helps your cells release toxins.
Try adding half an avocado to a salad, burrito bowl, or smoothie to detox daily. Next time they ask if you want to add guac? Yes, please!
Lauryn Piemonte, Food Content Director & Blogger, Plantivore Kitchen
BananasAside from being accessible and versatile, this delicious fruit is rich in pectin, which is a dietary fiber responsible for drawing water from the intestines to the stool, which makes your trips to the bathroom more comfortable and smooth.
Bananas are also famously known for being rich in potassium, along with other essential vitamins, which makes them beneficial in terms of improving metabolism and skin appearance.
Moreover, the fiber content in bananas works wonders in maintaining a healthy gut, which is vital in the detoxification process.
Niyla Carson, Nutritionist, Fast Food Menu Prices
Catechin-rich foodsCatechins, found in foods such as apples, peaches, plums, and strawberries, are one example of a plant compound that increases the body's natural detoxification.
This compound can also be found in many whole foods which can be easily integrated into your diet. The benefit of taking these in through food sources is the added nutrients you receive from them along with replacing potentially calorie dense foods with more nutrient dense ones.
Trista Best, MPH, RD, LD, Balance One Supplements
Cruciferous veggiesThese include brussel sprouts, broccoli, and collard greens. Cruciferous veggies have been shown not only to help aid in detox but to provide high fiber and nutrient-rich content. They contain compounds that are called phytonutrients, which can provide antiinflammatory properties as well as aid in liver health and detoxing.
Dr. Ellie Heintze, Naturopathic Doctor, Starting Point Acupuncture
SpinachSpinach is low in calories, but packed with nutrients. It’s a superfood that contains vitamins A,C,E and K, as well as thiamine, calcium, iron, magnesium, and folate – trust me, the list goes on!
Spinach has flavonoids that help in keeping cholesterol from oxidising in our bodies by acting as an antioxidant. It's also a great source of chlorophyll, which is considered the top detoxifying plant pigment.
Alpa Makan, Health and Wellness Coach