The new year has just begun and after indulging over the festive season you might be looking to kick start your health.
I could simply start and finish this article by saying “Eat lots of fresh fruit and veg”, but that might not be enough to convince some of you, and as a health advocate it’s important that I provide you with some reasons why.
Here is a showcase of foods that offer specific qualities that help to keep your body clean and encourage cleansing.
This beautiful creamy food contains a powerful antioxidant called Glutathione, which is involved in detoxification – binding to heavy metals, solvents and pesticides, rendering them less harmful. Glutathione also supports the antioxidant activities of vitamins C and E, both of which are found in avocados. And we can’t forget about the healthy monounsaturated fats that help lower cholesterol and the fibre that helps eliminate toxins and keep our bowels healthy.
This sweet, earthy root vegetable is a great blood purifier and liver cleanser; not to mention being a good source of beta-carotene, a precursor to Vitamin A which helps boost immune function and has antioxidant properties. Beetroot helps stimulate liver function. Add fresh grated or julienned beetroot to salads or have it in a fresh squeezed juice.
Berries are great powerhouses of antioxidants, nutrients and phytochemicals that assist in cleansing and protect against free radical damage. Blueberries tend to rank in at number one on the list for detoxification, being a good source of the all-important master of detoxification – Glutathione
Another good source of Glutathione, plus beta-carotene a blood purifier, antioxidant and precursor to vitamin A, which is needed not only for immune function, eye, skin and cellular health. Carrots also help stimulate liver function. Add them to that beetroot juice for a good liver cleansing hit.
A natural diuretic that helps balance out fluid levels in the body and won’t make you dehydrated like other stimulatory diuretics like caffeine. The diuretic action of celery also helps to flush out toxins from the kidneys – one of our elimination pathways for toxins. Celery is also a good blood cleanser and is anti-inflammatory, helping to neutralise the inflammatory effects of toxins. Another addition to that great liver cleansing juice.
- Cruciferous veg
I’m grouping these together as they share pretty much the same qualities. This group includes Broccoli, Brussels sprouts (yes, start learning to love them), Cabbage and Cauliflower. They are great sources of glutathione, have known anti-cancer properties, assist the liver in breaking down excess hormones and boost enzyme production in the liver. Cabbage also helps cleanse the digestive tract and the juice has been shown to be beneficial in the treatment of stomach ulcers. That liver juice just keeps getting better…….
A compound in our fruits, veg, whole grains, beans and legumes, not to mention a couple of important seeds – Chia and Flax. Fibre is essential for healthy bowels. A high fibre diet helps lower the risk of colon cancer and also helps keep us fuller for longer and stabilises our blood sugar levels; great for managing cravings….. In terms of cleansing, fibre binds to excess cholesterol and toxins and takes them out of the body as well as promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria in our gut. Apples, Chia seeds and Flaxseeds are three of the top ones for cleansing.
- Fermented Foods
Fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi (pickled veg), kombucha (fermented tea) and kefir (fermented grain drink) provide beneficial bacteria for our gut, helping to balance out the bad with the good and assisting digestive and immune functions.
- Garlic and Onions
Both containing glutathione as well as sulphur, another compound that assist liver function and detoxification. Garlic also contains a compound called Allicin and the mineral Selenium, both of which aid liver cleansing and immune function.
It’s been on the table for a long time now for weight loss, but it is also a good one for cleansing. Grapefruits are high in Vitamin C – a strong antioxidant and immune booster and are good for the liver and intestinal tract due to the fact that they contain glutathione and pectin – a soluble fibre that helps reduce cholesterol and cleanse the blood.
Enough can’t be said about eating your greens, especially the leafy kind. As well as glutathione (it keeps popping up), greens contain chlorophyll a great internal cleanser and alkalising agent. Chlorophyll binds to heavy metals, reducing the negative impact on our body. They’re also great sources of fibre, folate, vitamin C, iron, magnesium and potassium. Bitter greens like rocket help stimulate liver function. Get your greens into you.
This rhizome which belongs to the ginger family is used as a spice in cooking – mostly Indian and Middle Eastern dishes, but also has many healing and medicinal benefits. It has been shown to prevent cancer, help lower cholesterol, reduce inflammation, support immune function and stimulate bile production so the liver can metabolise fats properly; all due to the antioxidant compound called curcumin. It’s fairly tasteless, so why not start adding it to your dishes for extra healing punch.
Walnuts contain glutathione and an amino acid called arginine which helps the liver breakdown ammonia, a by-product of protein metabolism which when in excess causes our blood to become acidic and increases the risk of gout. Walnuts, along with chia and flaxseeds also contain omega-3 essential fatty acid which, among many qualities is anti-inflammatory and stabilises our cell walls, protecting against the damage of toxins.
Have I done enough to convince you about the importance and relevance of fresh fruit and veg and adding wholegrain, beans and legumes to your diet?
“Let food be thy medicine”
Article by Golden Door Nutritionist Olivia Horvat-Benson