We asked 10 doctors what they eat when they want to detox. Here is what they answered:
I try to live a “detox” life daily by staying well hydrated, using an infrared sauna, and getting 7 hours of restorative sleep. When I need a boost I will increase my brassica family vegetables, lightly steamed or raw. Broccoli, cauliflower, mustard greens, collard greens and brussels sprouts all lead to the production of sulforaphane and boost glutathione, the master antioxidant, and natural detoxifier.
I like to put at least 3 brazil nuts in my smoothie every morning. Brazil nuts are a natural source of selenium, which helps my body manage heavy metals, like mercury.
Parsley and Celery
Parsley and celery are two foods with some of the highest naturally occurring levels of apigenin. Apigenin has been shown to have an anti-carcinogenic effect on leukemia and breast cancer cells. It has also been shown in scientific studies to increase the growth of new brain cells and therefore might have implications in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Apigenin has also been shown to have an immune-modulating activity that can be applied to hyper-reactive immune system disorders like autoimmunity and allergies.
Parsley has also been shown to help your body detoxify from heavy metals like mercury, lead, and arsenic. These metals are prevalent in our soil and foods, and we are all regularly exposed to them. Adding something like parsley to your diet can help counter the absorption of these metals into your body’s tissues.
Celery also contains chemicals called phthalides which have been shown to improve cholesterol and blood pressure, leading to decreased risk of cardiovascular disease.
So whether we add these two super foods to our smoothie in the morning, eat celery sticks dipped in almond butter or hummus as a snack, or add chopped parsley to any meal at all, we will be doing ourself a huge favor!
Apple Cider Vinegar
My favorite detoxifying drink is apple cider vinegar, with lemon. I actually don’t like to eat real food until later in the day so that I give the GI tract a good amount of time to heal, rest and reset. I calculate 12-15 hours from my last meal or drink. Once I do eat, I include a meal that does not contain gut irritants like sugar, grains, or dairy. My fave is spicy Brussels sprouts, avocado, and a vegetable soup.
Leafy Greens & Sulfur-Rich Vegetables
How to make your life a detox? On a daily basis do something that supports healthy detoxification pathways. One of my favorite ways to do this is to support methylation. Methylation is a big biochemical process that happens more than 1 billion times a second in your body and does many important things to keep you healthy, one of those is detoxification.
Some simple ways I make my life a detox and support those methylation pathways is to focus on eating more green leafy vegetables and sulfur-rich vegetables like onions and garlic.
I also love adding cilantro and dandelion to my green juices to give them extra cleansing properties.
Not typically top of the list when you think about detoxifying foods but we could say this is the mushroom of “immortality”. Why? It contains the highest level of antioxidants of almost any other food. Reishi mushroom has so many health benefits from its adaptogenic properties it’s almost too good to be true! It’s one of those awesome foods that can do it all. One of them is detoxification and improving liver function. The best part is they are safe, effective, and well-tolerated by most people. My favorite way to consume them is in powder form which I mix right into my morning coffee.
Pomegranates are at the top of my list for their enjoyable, crunchy, slightly sweet, slightly bitter, juicy seeds known as “arils.” They are high in fiber, protein, vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, and potassium – important nutrients for detoxification. But, possibly the most important, unique substances in the pomegranate that hold powerful medicinal properties are: 1) punicalagin – an antioxidant tannin found in the juice and peel of the pomegranate which is three times as potent as the antioxidants in red wine or green tea, and 2) punicic acid – the main fatty acid in the arils, which is a type of conjugated linoleic acid, a fatty acid that helps with fat loss and improves sugar metabolism. Just as important as its antioxidant capacity is the pomegranate’s incredible anti-inflammatory effects, which in one study on diabetics drinking 250mL of pomegranate juice daily for 12 weeks lowered the inflammatory markers CRP and interleukin-6 by 32% and 30%, respectively.
I personally don’t like the term detoxifying food, as I try not to have toxins in my body in the first place. Instead, I prefer the term anti-inflammatory foods, which are those that increase the diversity and abundance of my gut microbiota, prevent leakiness of my gut and reduce the amount of inflammatory substances reaching my gut-based immune system and from there my whole body, in particular, the brain.
These foods include different types of complex carbohydrates from various plants and vegetables, naturally fermented foods, and foods high in polyphenols, all of which are beneficial for the health of our gut microbiota. Polyphenols are large, non-absorbable molecules which are taken up by the microbes which digest them into metabolites which are then absorbed by our gut, exerting their an anti-inflammatory effect. They are contained in large amounts in olive oil, red wine, and berries. Turmeric contains similar anti-inflammatory, non-absorbable compounds which act through our microbes. I avoid any animal fat, and sugar and limit the ingestion of meat to fish and organically raised chickens.
In practice, this all translates into a delicious meal of grilled salmon, served with vegetables roasted in olive oil, and a mixed kale salad containing avocados, fresh turmeric, sauerkraut, and blueberries.
Avocado With Himalayan Salt
My favorite detoxifying food is avocado, especially with Himalayan sea salt. Avocado is rich in vitamins and minerals, healthy fats, and fiber to help you feel full. The pink sea salt helps add even more vitamins and minerals, plus a zest of flavor. Avocados are easy to eat and digest (minimal chewing!) while providing satiety and loads of nutrients, and the creamy texture can also trick your brain into feeling like you’ve eaten more. Health wise, it can reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. They’re also very important for liver health, and the liver is one of our most notable detoxification organs.
I keep them in my fridge and eat about one cup per day when I’m detoxing. This counts as one of your servings of vegetables (always eat one pound per day) and provides more sulforaphane for phase one and phase two support in the liver. Among my patients, I sometimes see them detoxing too much. Remember, the body is accustomed to periods of detox alternating with periods of relax.