What does "detox" mean to you? Most people think of fasting, dieting, or cleansing. And while these approaches can help eliminate toxins from the body, they tend to be a temporary fix. Also, they often bring unwanted side effects like dehydration, cravings or fatigue.
Detoxification is actually a natural process of the liver, which is the largest internal organ. It transforms toxic substances into compounds that our kidneys can remove from the body.
Unfortunately, our liver has a lot of work to do, as environmental toxins are all around us — in our air, soil, water, food, homes, and offices — and they quickly exhaust our body's ability to detoxify. And a weakened detoxifying system allows chronic conditions (including heart disease, obesity, cancer and autoimmune diseases) to develop.
To prevent toxic accumulation, we must eat healthful foods that support our natural detoxification system. My new book, The Gene Therapy Plan: Taking Control of Your Genetic Destiny with Diet and Lifestyle, underscores the vital role that food plays in ramping up health.
To improve detoxification in the body, there are two things to do: (1) reduce your exposure to toxins and (2) support the detoxification and immune systems. How? Through diet and lifestyle choices. Here are some tips to do that:
1. Consume fruits and cruciferous vegetables, which boost detoxifying enzymes.
Broccoli and broccoli sprouts contain sulforaphane, which is thought to increase detox enzymes as well as help prevent premature aging and cancer. Other detoxifying foods you should incorporate in your diet are:
- Black raspberries
- Swiss chard
- Bok choy
2. Spice things up.
Add herbs and spices like rosemary, cilantro, and garlic to your diet. This is a simple way to add flavor to your meals and raise your body's detoxification defenses. Allicin (garlic), apigenin (cilantro), and carnosol (rosemary) are compounds that induce detoxification enzymes.
3. Be good to your gut.
To bolster detoxification, we must support gut health to promote the growth of healthy bacteria like Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus. Eat foods that are rich in probiotics like yogurt, chickpea, miso, kombucha, and kimchi
4. Don't ever use chlorine-based cleansers.
Choose non-toxic, green products to clean your home
5. Know what you're breathing.
Every home should have a carbon monoxide detector and fire alarm. But you should also invest in a radon kit. Long-term exposure to this chemical, which seeps into your home from the soil, can cause lung cancer to develop.
6. Exercise at least three times week.
Physical activity increases your heart rate and gets your blood moving — this helps to carry nutrients to organs and remove waste from them. Exercise has also been shown to trigger healthful changes at the level of our DNA, too. Researchers at the Karolinska Institute studied healthy volunteers who were instructed to bicycle by only using one leg; genomic analyses showed that the exercised legs developed new methylation patterns associated with genes that regulate energy, inflammation, and insulin response.
7. Eat berries!
Berries play a vital role in ridding the body of toxins. For example, cranberries possess many phytonutrients that are helpful for preventing urinary tract infections, reducing cancer risk and improving cardiovascular health. Like strawberries, cranberries, blackberries, and boysenberries, blueberries are powerful antioxidants that aid in maintaining liver health. Oranges and tangerines contain high amounts of vitamin C, one of many antioxidants that helps clear up toxins and free radicals in the body.
8. Fight fire with fire.
Capsaicin is a chemical substance that produces heat and it is found in peppers. Bell peppers and jalapenos are great sources of capsaicin. By stimulating blood circulation and metabolism, peppers help the body to flush out toxins. And for the fearless, the hotter the degree of fire in a pepper means the more capsaicin it contains.
And if peppers aren't for you, then you can generate the same heating effects (increased blood circulation and metabolism) induced by capsaicin with foods such as garlic and mustard.
9. Crush toxins with garlic.
Garlic activates liver enzymes that are responsible for removing toxins. It also contains compounds that play a role in decreasing the risk of nitrosation, the process in which nitrates found in foods such as meat are converted to nitrites using high cooking heat. (These nitrites can become carcinogenic nitrosamine compounds.) Allicin and selenium, which are also found in garlic, can also prevent liver damage.
Want to learn more? Check out the video.
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