11 Top Foods to Support Detox

Drink more water (6-8 glasses per day) to hydrate your body and help it flush out toxins! Bored with plain water? Add a hint of lemon juice for flavor!

11 TOP FOODS

You’ve read about the benefits of detoxing, and you want to experience them for yourself! While detoxing is an essential step to attaining overall better health, maybe you’re focused on weight loss, increasing your energy, relieving bloating or constipation, curbing cravings, improving your sleep, reducing stress, strengthening your immune system, or improving your skin. Either way, you are ready to change your ways and get a fresh start with a detox regimen. But where can you start? What are some nutrients that you can incorporate into your diet?

Support your detoxing organs and free your body of toxins, free radicals and all nasty things by consuming the right nutrients. Here are 11 foods that top our list to support your fresh start.

1. MILK THISTLE

Milk thistle is the liver’s best friend; it supports liver health by neutralizing free radicals, repairing damage to liver cells, and protecting new liver cells from being damaged by the same toxins.

How did milk thistle get to be your liver’s BFF? Well, silymarin, a mixture of flavonoids derived from milk thistle seeds, acts as an antioxidant seeking free radicals and preventing them from damaging cells. Silymarin increases glutathione levels in the liver, which helps the body remove chemicals and drugs (including over-the-counter pharmaceuticals like acetaminophen). Additionally, the flavonoid complex in milk thistle encourages protein production to create new liver cells and replace those that have been damaged; because of this it is used to support the treatment of those with hepatitis as well as cirrhosis (liver damage). Studies done in mice have shown that silymarin protects against toxin-induced liver damage, such as from alcohol1. Studies have, also, shown that milk thistle may protect against Alzheimer’s disease and combat colon and prostate cancer cells2, 3. If milk thistle is this powerful when it comes to serious ailments, image how it can support a healthy liver or assist with general detox! Use of milk thistle spans centuries from the ancient Greeks to the English in the 17th century to American doctors in the 20th century; with centuries of use and hundreds of studies to back its use, milk thistle is definitely your liver’s friend!

2. DANDELION

Looking for food to support your liver, kidneys, spleen and gall bladder4? In traditional medicine, dandelion is used as a liver and kidney tonic, but dandelion’s healing properties have been recognized since ancient times. In ancient India, dandelion was used to treat different types of liver diseases such as jaundice, cirrhosis and enlargement of the liver. In Chinese medicine, it is among the top herbs prescribed to treat diabetes, liver disease, kidney problems and digestive problems.

Why is dandelion so popular? Well, like milk thistle, it is rich in antioxidants plus it contains vitamins A, B, C, D, E and beta-carotene, plus minerals like zinc, iron, potassium and selenium to support liver health. Additionally, dandelion contains polysaccharides, similar to those found in certain species of mushrooms, which are thought to have antitumor properties5.

The compounds in dandelion contribute to both liver function as well as kidney function; dandelion can act as a laxative to improve digestion and can increase urine production to flush toxins from your system. Dandelion is more than just a flower or weed you see growing – it’s dandy for detox!

3. SCHIZANDRA CHINENSIS

Let’s just call Schizandra Chinensis “S.C.” for short! This anti-stress herb is popularly used in Chinese medicine to promote a healthy liver. Laboratory tests have shown that S.C.’s antioxidant compounds are beneficial in protecting the body’s liver and complex system of nerves as well as improving one’s mental and physical health, including combating diabetes6-12.

In a recent study, athletes that were given S.C. saw a reduction in the level of the stress hormone cortisol. Schizandra Chenensis increases the body’s shield against environmental stress, toxin exposure, anxiety, emotional and mental illnesses13.

Drinking alcohol routinely or heavily can increase the amount of fat that deposits in the liver. S.C. is proven to reduce the accumulation of fat in the liver, prevent liver injury, and reduce liver inflammation. As for diabetics, S.C. is beneficial in reducing glucose levels after eating14.

Talk about getting a lot out of one herb! Make S.C. your buddy!

4. REISHI MUSHROOM

The Chinese called this powerful fungus the “Mushroom of Immortality” and “Miracle Herb”! Does it live up to its nicknames? Well, major benefits attributed to the reishi mushroom include immune system regulation, anti-oxidant and anti-histamine properties, and liver cell defense from bacterial infections and toxins15-16, 17.

What is responsible for these benefits and more? The reishi mushroom has high levels of potent polysaccharides and triterpenes. The body uses polysaccharides for energy and they are known to bolster liver function, improve intestinal health, stimulate the immune system, strengthen the cardiovascular system, as well as guard against skin cell degeneration to combat the appearance of aging. On top of that, triterpenes are praised for their anti-cancer benefits, immune system support, hormone regulation, and blood pressure control, which in turn helps with stress reduction. It’s no wonder the reishi mushroom receives such high praise when it can benefit your body in so many ways!

5. CURCUMIN

Curcumin may not ring a bell, but did you know it is used frequently in Indian and Asian cuisine? That is because curcumin is the principal chemical in the spice turmeric, and is responsible for its yellow colour! However, turmeric is not valuable just for it’s colour and flavor: it, also, offers various health benefits for your body and brain.

Oxidative stress and oxidation is one of the biomarkers used to determine your health grade and curcumin, the main component of turmeric, is a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant that acts at a molecular level to help your body combat oxidation19, 20.

On top of its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, curcumin supports a clear and strong memory by boosting levels of hormones in the brain to trigger the growth of new neurons and prevent various degenerative processes in the brain.

6. ARTICHOKES

You may know the artichoke as food, but it is only edible for a short time, and then it becomes unrecognizable compared to what you might see at the supermarket! That is because the artichoke is species of thistle grown as a food and the edible part of the plant is the flower bud before it blooms.

The artichoke is nutritionally high in fiber, folic acid, vitamin C, and vitamin K plus it is ranked 7th in antioxidant power versus over 1000 other foods21 with high levels of antioxidants cynarin and silymarin.

ARE YOU STILL NOT IMPRESSED?!
Well, did you know that artichokes are big deal when it comes to your liver and detoxing? Bile plays a major role in helping the body detox since it transports toxins and waste from the liver. Artichokes act as natural diuretic and choleretic, meaning that they promote the production of urine and increase the speed with which bile is secreted from the liver. This bile produced by the liver is stored in the gallbladder in between meals and released as you eat; artichokes promote the discharge of bile from the gallbladder22. An insufficient amount of bile increases digestive problems as well as the risk of liver cell damage and liver disease. So, the artichoke is obviously a big deal when you want to get the bile in your system flowing and help liver cell regeneration and gallbladder function!

7. ALFALFA

You have likely heard alfalfa called “the father of all foods,” so you may guess that it is extremely nutritious! Alfalfa is a storehouse of around 300 nutrients since its tap root reaches down as deep as 6 meters, searching out vitamins and minerals from deposits in the soil.

Alfalfa contains a wide range of nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin E and vitamin C plus very high amounts of chlorophyll. Several clinical studies have found that alfalfa promotes healthy bowel movements and a healthy digestive system23-24, helps fight anxiety25 and detoxifies blood26. Want a healthy digestive system and purified blood? Try out alfalfa!

8. SENNA LEAVES

Constipation! It’s an uncomfortable experience and not something we like to discuss! The reality is that it is a common, recurring, health problem most people experience and the main causes are low fibre intake and dehydration. A research study conducted in Malaysia showed that 45.5% of subjects had ongoing issues with constipation over a period of 5-15 years, and 27.7% of them were not aware that they were suffering from constipation27.

If we don’t like to talk about this, then why are we bringing it up? Well, senna leaves are a colon-friendly herb that can assist with constipation since they act as natural laxatives to get your lazy colon back to work. Get rid of the discomfort and turn to senna leaves to increase the frequency of your bowel movements and reduce constipation.

9. POLYPHENOLS

Several factors can lead to chronic inflammation including: long-term exposure to stress, environmental toxins, poor nutrition, or microbial or viral infections. Prolonged inflammation damages cells and leads to various metabolic diseases, premature aging, coronary heart disease and atherosclerosis (a build-up of plaque in the arteries)28, 29.

Polyphenols, a natural substance found in plants, act as a great antioxidant and anti-inflammatory for the body fighting cell damage due to inflammation and the list of health issues that come with it. Research worldwide has shown that polyphenols offer a range of health benefits such as:

  1. Protecting your heart from cardiovascular disease30, 31
  2. Reducing the risk of neurodegenerative disease32, 33 (like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s)
  3. Boosting skin moisture for more elastic, youthful, skin34
  4. Improving insulin resistance35

How can you reap the benefits that polyphenols offer? Many fruits, vegetables and legumes are high-polyphenol foods. So, work toward a diet that is high in fruits and vegetables to ensure that your body is fully protected from free radicals, oxidation, and inflammation!

10. PEPPERMINT

Feeling too full, or maybe like your pants are too tight? Is your stomach always in pain or do you feel like it is swollen or ballooning after meals? These are signs that you are bloated! Long-term, or frequent, bloating is a sign that you need to detox!

Bloating is mainly caused by indigestion due to overeating plus a low level of digestion liquid and enzymes. It is commonly seen in the people who are suffering from irritable bowel syndrome and constipation. Stomach distention, when your stomach expands outward beyond its normal girth, is a clear sign that you are suffering from bloating. Not only is distension uncomfortable, but it is not a pretty image in the mirror either!

Peppermint is the tasty solution to your bloating battle! Peppermint relieves muscle spasms and helps your gastrointestinal (GI) tract relax so that you can release gas, plus it offers analgesic and anesthetic effects to quell any pain36, 37, 38. Clinical studies have, also, shown that peppermint has other health benefits such as functioning as an antimicrobial and antiviral, demonstrating strong antioxidant and antitumor capabilities, and possibly acting as an anti-allergenic. Help your GI tract, get rid of that bloated feeling, and up your health game with some peppermint!

11. GINGER

Like peppermint, ginger is a good source to help with bloating! Indian and Asian cultures have often turned to ginger to treat ulcers, bloating and gastrointestinal ailments. Traditionally, ginger is usually used to treat indigestion, as it stimulates the production of saliva and digestive juices to calm the stomach and intestine. It is believed that active components of ginger, like gingerol, make it a popular remedy to ease nausea and vomiting. On top of helping with a slew of issues with your digestive tract, ginger may reduce symptoms of arthritis according to some clinical studies39, 40. Season your foods with ginger or try some tea to fight bloating, combat ulcers, and calm down other stomach issues that you may be experiencing, and you may support your joints as well!

Reference

  1. Milić , N., Milosević, N., Suvajdzić, L., Zarkov, M., & Abenavoli, L. (2013). New therapeutic potentials of milk thistle (Silybum marianum). Natural Product Communication , 1801-1810.
  2. Das , S. K., Mukherjee, S., & Vasudevan, D. M. (2008 ). Medicinal properties of milk thistle with special reference to Silmaryn; An overview . Natural Product Radiance , 182-192.
  3. Ramasamy, K., & Agarwal, R. (2008 ). Multitargeted therapy of cancer by silymarin. Cancer Lett., 352-362.
  4. Barnes J, Anderson LA, Phillipson JD. Herbal Medicines. London: Pharmaceutical Press, 2002.
  5. Koo HN, Hong SH, Song BK, Kim CH, Yoo YH, Kim HM. Taraxacum officinale induces cytotoxicity through TNF-alpha and IL-1alpha secretion in Hep G2 cells. Life Sci. 2004 Jan 16;74(9):1149-57.
  6. Park HJ, Lee SJ, Song Y, et al. Schisandra chinensis prevents alcohol-induced fatty liver disease in rats. J Med Food. Jan 2014;17(1):103-110.
  7. Ci X, Ren R, Xu K, et al. Schisantherin A exhibits anti-inflammatory properties by down-regulating NF-kappaB and MAPK signaling pathways in lipopolysaccharide-treated RAW 264.7 cells.Inflammation. Apr 2010;33(2):126-136.
  8. Park C, Choi YW, Hyun SK, et al. Induction of G1 arrest and apoptosis by schisandrin C isolated from Schizandra chinensis Baill in human leukemia U937 cells. Int J Mol Med. Oct 2009;24(4):495-502.
  9. Liu SJ, Qu HM, Ren YP. SCP, a polysaccharide from Schisandra chinensis, induces apoptosis in human renal cell carcinoma Caki-1 cells through mitochondrial- dependent pathway via inhibition of ERK activation. Tumour Biol. Feb 7 2014.
  10. You JS, Pan TL, Hou YC. Schisandra chinensis protects against adriamycin- induced cardiotoxicity in rats. Chang Gung Med J. Jan-Feb 2006;29(1):63-70.
  11. Xu X, Zhou X, Zhou XW, et al. Schizandrin prevents dexamethasone-induced cognitive deficits.Neurosci Bull. Oct 2012;28(5):532-540.
  12. Ko KM, Ip SP, Poon MK, et al. Effect of a lignan-enriched fructus schisandrae extract on hepatic glutathione status in rats: protection against carbon tetrachloride toxicity. Planta Med. Apr 1995;61(2):134-137.
  13. Panossian A, Oganessian A, Ambartsumian M, et al. Effects of heavy physical exercise and adaptogens on nitric oxide content in human saliva. Phytomedicine 1999;6(1):17–26.
  14. Jo, Sung-Hoon et al. “In Vitro and in Vivo Anti-Hyperglycemic Effects of Omija (Schizandra Chinensis) Fruit.” International Journal of Molecular Sciences 12.2 (2011): 1359–1370. PMC. Web. 18 Apr. 2016.
  15. Joseph S, Sabulal B, George V, Antony KR, Janardhanan KK. Antitumor and anti-inflammatory activities of polysaccharides isolated from Ganoderma lucidum. Acta Pharm. 2011 Sep 1;61(3):335-42
  16. Wachtel-Galor S, Szeto YT, Tomlinson B, et al. Ganoderma lucidum (’Lingzhi’); acute and short-term biomarker response to supplementation. Int J Food Sci Nutr. Feb 2004;55(1):75-83.
  17. Wachtel-Galor S, Tomlinson B, Benzie IF. Ganoderma lucidum (“Lingzhi”), a Chinese medicinal mushroom: biomarker responses in a controlled human supplementation study. Br J Nutr. Feb 2004;91(2):263-269.
  18. Ng TP, Chiam PC, Lee T, et al. Curry consumption and cognitive function in the elderly. Am J Epidemiol. Nov 1 2006;164(9):898-906.
  19. Sanmukhani J, Satodia V, Trivedi J, et al. Efficacy and safety of curcumin in major depressive disorder: a randomized controlled trial. Phytother Res. 2014 Apr;28(4):579-85.
  20. Menon VP, Sudheer AR. Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2007;595:105-25.
  21. 2Lattanzio, V., Cicco, N., and Linsalata, V. (2005). Antioxidantactivities of artichoke phenolics. Acta Horticulturae, 681: 421–428.
  22. Ceren Gezer, Sevinç Yucecan , Suresh Inder Singh Rattan. (2015). Artichoke compound cynarin differentially affects the survival, growth, and stress response of normal, immortalized, and cancerous human cells. 39: 299-305
  23. Jasjeet D, Pankaj K, Tiwari BN, Rakesh P. Chemo-pharmacological aspects of alfalfa. ScienSage. 2011(2)1;50-53
  24. Castleman M, Emmaus PA. The healing herbs. Rodale Press, 1991;37-9.
  25. Bora KS, Sharma A. Phytochemical and pharmacological potential of Medicago sativa: a review. Pharm Biol. 2011 Feb;49(2):211-20: 10.3109/13880209.2010.504732.
  26. Egner, Patricia A., Jin-Bing Wang, Yuan-Rong Zhu, Bao-Chu Zhang, Yan Wu, Qi-Nan Zhang, Geng-Sun Qian, et al. 2001. “Chlorophyllin intervention reduces aflatoxin–DNA adducts in individuals at high risk for liver cancer.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 14601-14606.
  27. Mazlyn, M M, L H Nagarajah, A Fatimah , A K Norimah , and K L Goh. 2013. “Stool patterns of Malaysian adults with functional constipation: association with diet and physical activity.” Malaysia Journal of Nutrition 53-64.
  28. P. C. Calder, R. Albers, J.-M. Antoine, S. Blum, R. Bourdet-Sicard, G. A. Ferns, G. Folkerts, P. S. Friedmann, G. S. Frost, F. Guarner, M. Løvik, S. Macfarlane, P. D. Meyer, L. M’Rabet, M. Serafini, W. van Eden, J. van Loo, W. Vas Dias, S. Vidry, B. M. W. 2009. “Inflammatory Disease Processes and Interactions with Nutrition.” British Journal of Nutrition 1-45
  29. Levine, T B, and A B Levine. 2012. Metabolic Syndrome and Cardiovascular Disease. Oxford, UK : Blackwell Publishing.
  30. Maulik, D. K. (2006). Resveratrol in cardioprotection: A therapeutic promise of alternative medicine. Molecular Interventions, 36-47.
  31. Mobasheri, A. e. (2012). Scientific Evidence and Rationale for the Development of Curcumin and Resveratrol as Nutraceutricals for Joint Health. International Journal of Molecular Sciences , 4202–4232.
  32. Rizvi, K. B. (2009). Plant polyphenols as dietary antioxidants in human health and disease. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, 270-278.
  33. Schaffer S, H. B. (2012). Do polyphenols enter the brain and does it matter? Some theoretical and practical considerations. Genes & Nutrition, 99-109.
  34. Joi A. Nichols, S. K. (2010). Skin photoprotection by natural polyphenols: anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and DNA repair mechanisms. Archives of Dermatological Research, 71-83.
  35. Ali Movahed, Iraj Nabipour, Xavier Lieben Louis, et al., “Antihyperglycemic Effects of Short Term Resveratrol Supplementation in Type 2 Diabetic Patients,” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 23.
  36. Valussi M. Functional foods with digestion-enhancing properties. 2012. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 82-89
  37. Pittler MH, Ernst E. Peppermint oil for irritable bowel syndrome: a critical review and metaanalysis.Am J Gastroenterol. Jul 1998;93(7):1131-1135.
  38. Merat S, Khalili S, Mostajabi P, et al. The effect of enteric-coated, delayed-release peppermint oil on irritable bowel syndrome. Dig Dis Sci. May 2010;55(5):1385-1390.
  39. Pittler MH, Ernst E. Peppermint oil for irritable bowel syndrome: a critical review and metaanalysis.Am J Gastroenterol. Jul 1998;93(7):1131-1135.
  40. Merat S, Khalili S, Mostajabi P, et al. The effect of enteric-coated, delayed-release peppermint oil on irritable bowel syndrome. Dig Dis Sci. May 2010;55(5):1385-1390.