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Foods to boost natural toxin removal

It’s springtime! Let’s pull out the green detox juice to rinse away all the winter’s guilty pleasures. Green juice and smoothies are healthy, nutrient-dense additions to your diet, and I’m a big fan of them.

Here’s a little secret: Your body is naturally a detoxifying machine that is at work daily, 24/7. The crazy part is that you don’t have to live on “cucumber water” or “cabbage soup” to get the benefits. When it comes to detoxifying, the liver is the powerhouse, and the amazing thing is that we don’t have to teach your liver how to do its job of detoxing your body. The catch is that if you want the liver to function properly, you do need to support it with the right nutrients so that it can do the best job possible.

Your toxic load is the amount of toxins accumulated in your body minus the amount your body can remove in the process we know as detoxification. Toxins can be found in food, house cleaning products, personal care products, water, medications and in the air, to mention a few. It’s your “biochemical individuality” that determines the amount of toxic load your body can withstand before it’s unable to keep up with detoxification. This is the tipping point where symptoms begin to appear, and you start to see warning signs that your liver needs support.

Symptoms you can experience include: allergies, gas/bloating, constipation, fatigue, food intolerance, headaches/migraines, high cholesterol, mood swings, brain fog, nausea, acne and other skin conditions. Imagine your liver becoming plugged like your kitchen sink or the filter of your vacuum cleaner. When this occurs, the toxic load begins to impact your digestive track and impairs the ability to remove waste from your body. In addition, your body’s ability to digest and absorb the food you eat decreases. In this poor digestive state, you may be eating healthy, yet not getting all the benefit of that nutritious food.

So, whether you are trying to manage a disease, lose weight, or just cleanse your body to have more energy and feel better, nourishing your liver and boosting your detoxification ability may be your solution.

Here are four food groups to focus on to improve your body’s ability to remove toxins:

  • Eat antioxidant-rich foods – nutrients containing antioxidants include vitamin A, vitamin C, selenium, vitamin E, lycopene, lutein and zeaxanthin. Foods loaded with antioxidants include berries, fruit, nuts, cocoa, vegetables, spices, coffee, green tea and broccoli sprouts.
  • Eat sulfur-rich foods – foods containing sulfur help remove heavy metals from your body and improve the function of the major antioxidant glutathione in your body. Beneficial sulfur-rich foods include eggs, broccoli, broccoli sprouts, garlic and onions.
  • Drink more water – water helps eliminate waste products from your body through urine, breathing, sweating and bowel movements. For optimal elimination, initially shoot for half your body weight in ounces of water, then increase from there based on your diet and activity level.
  • Eat prebiotic foods – prebiotic foods feed your healthy gut bacteria. These bacteria increase the liver’s ability to detox your body. Prebiotic foods include tomatoes, artichokes, bananas, asparagus, onion, garlic and oats.

Detoxification is happening daily in your body. A springtime green drink cleanse can help, but instead, focus on strengthening your body long term. Eat the foods you need to strengthen your body’s ability to remove toxins daily. You don’t have to teach your body to remove toxins, but you do need to support it to do so. This means daily you are getting the nutrients you need to detox easily.

Fran Sutherlin, RD, MS is a local registered dietitian, specializing in using digestive wellness to prevent or manage chronic disease. She has a master’s degree in nutrition, is a personal health coach, speaker, and owner of Sustainable Nutrition. She can be reached at 444-2122 or fran@fransutherlin.com.