It’s easy to get stuck in an unhealthy food cycle. From downing one too many margaritas at happy hour, to noshing on your kids’ leftover mac and cheese instead of sitting down for a healthy meal, food temptations lurk around every corner.
There’s nothing wrong with indulging every now and then, but problems arise when you treat yourself a little too much — like a bloated stomach, swollen limbs, and a sluggish mentality (to name a few). When it gets to that point, you may want to consider eating foods that clean out your system and giving your body and healthy detox.
I know what you’re thinking. You’d rather swear off selfies than embark on a month-long juice cleanse. Well the good news is, you don’t have to. Some of your favorite foods already have detox-inducing qualities that allow you to clean out your system without the daunting commitment of a formal cleanse. No tricks. No gimmicks. Just good old-fashioned healthy eating.
So next time you’re feeling icky and in need of a little detox, try eating one of these proven foods to clear out your system.
1. Green Tea
In addition to water with lemon, green tea is a great detox beverage. Green tea is high in catechin, a flavonoid that boosts the production of detox enzymes and speeds up liver function. Studies also show green tea alleviates bowel inflammation and prevents a variety of cancers. Try replacing your afternoon coffee with green tea to help refresh your body.
2. Lemons and Oranges
The vitamin C in citrus fruits help produce glutathione. Known as the mother of all antioxidants, glutathione is a key component in detoxifying the liver. Lemon, in particular, is hailed as a powerful cleansing food, as the liver can make more enzymes out of fresh lemon juice than any other food, helping flush toxins from our digestive tract. Since sucking on a lemon isn’t ideal, try starting the morning with a glass of water — hot or cold — with fresh lemon juice.
3. Grapes and Blueberries
These refreshing fruits are rich in flavanoids, which can help regenerate depleted glutathione (again, the most powerful liver and brain detoxifier in the body) — affecting everything from your immune system to your nervous system to your intestinal tract. A lack of glutathione also affects your body’s ability to detoxify alcohol, which is necessary after one too many glasses of wine. If blueberries and grapes aren’t your thing, try a grape seed extract supplement.
Hailed as a powerful anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting aid, ginger has been cleansing the body for centuries. According to neurologist Kulreet Chaudhary, ginger stimulates good digestion by helping the body release the right enzymes to break down food, as well as break down toxins in your organs — specifically the lungs and sinuses.
“Ginger helps to cleanse the lymphatic system, which is our body’s sewage system,” Chaudhary explained to Dr. Oz online. “By opening up these lymphatic channels and keeping things clean, ginger prevents the accumulation of the toxins that make you susceptible to infections, especially in the respiratory system.” To get your fill of this digestive aid, try adding a chunk of raw ginger to your morning smoothie or brew ginger tea.
5. Dark Leafy Greens
There could be a reason you crave eggs the morning after a booze binge. Turns out eggs are high in cysteine, an amino acid that helps break down acetaldehyde — a product of alcohol metabolism that’s more toxic than alcohol itself.
“By converting acetaldehyde into water and carbon dioxide, cysteine serves as our body’s own eliminator of this toxic compound,” Jaclyn London, a senior dietician at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City told Women’s Health. To reap the benefits of the incredible, edible egg, whip up a baked egg recipe for breakfast or add some hard boiled beauties to your salad.
Yet another way to cleanse the liver, antioxidant-rich garlic stimulates your body’s detoxification enzymes, filtering toxic residues from your digestive system. It’s also rich in antiviral, antifungal and anti-inflammatory compounds, making it an all-around health boosting winner. Chop up a handful of fresh garlic for your meals, and then promptly get rid of that inevitable (and gag-worthy) garlic breath.
8. Brussel Sprouts
All sorts of cruciferous veggies — like cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower, too — are super high in fiber, which keeps toxins and waste moving through your body. They’re also a good source of sulforaphane,an antioxidant that stimulates natural detoxifying enzymes and ultimately cleans you out. If you have a knee-jerk aversion to these green veggies, don’t worry; there are plenty of yummy ways to prepare Brussel sprouts.
Beets are a nutritional goldmine for cleansing your system, with antioxidants and naturally occurring, detoxifying nitrates that increase oxygen flow and keep blood moving. They have plenty of fiber, which helps your liver produce antioxidant enzymes, and beets are high in glutathione-boosting flavonoids, too. You could simply add a few jarred beets to your salad, or whip up an equally tasty (more nutritious) spicy beet salad.
This standard garnish is actually a natural diuretic, flushing water (and thus bacteria) through your kidneys. Rather than just sprinkling a little on chicken marsala, try adding parsley to your morning green smoothies for an added detox boost.
Who knew this crisp, peppery plant was so nutrient dense? Packed with powerful phytochemicals, watercress has detox and diuretic qualities. Not only does it keep free radicals from your cells, but watercress energizes cleansing enzymes in your liver, too. Add somefresh watercress to soups and salads, for a detoxifying kick.
An underrated detox powerhouse, artichokes are loaded with cynarin, which stimulates liver bile to cleanse your liver and gallbladder. Artichokes are also high in antioxidants and nutrients like vitamin C, potassium, and magnesium — helping you digest and detox. To get the most out of this fibrous food, steam artichokes and serve with a little butter-lemon dip.
You might want to add a seaweed salad to your next sushi order, considering its proven detox qualities. Studies show seaweed regulates and purifies your blood, and — thanks to its iodine — naturally boosts metabolism.
Images: Jessica Spengler, Andrew Comings, liz west, Jim Lightfoot, Mervi Eskelinen, brianna.lehman, Isabel Eyre, Roland Tanglao, Alice Henneman, Dan McKay, cookbookman17, Wendell Smith, Mike Mozart, Ken Hawkins/Flickr