Awareness about the importance of cleansing and detoxifying our bodies (and minds) has grown in recent decades due to the increasing amount of harmful, and often plainly toxic, substances that are present today in our air, water, soils and food, as well as the slew of synthetic products we use and are subjected to daily. To add fuel to the fire, our body endures further stress because its own detox pathways, namely the skin, intestines, lungs, kidneys and liver, are often overloaded, blocked or compromised in some way. A human body, living almost anywhere on Earth in the post-Industrial world must therefore contend today with an onslaught of harmful substances and disabled system function.
Of course we can sit back and do nothing, solely relying on the body’s magnificent resilience to get us through as many years as possible, before various symptoms and diseases set in. This default approach used to be something many could get by with, however it no longer is, as we are increasingly seeing that such a passive approach is not enough, given our increased health challenges, and especially that nowadays young adults, children and even babies are increasingly exhibiting symptoms and diseases associated with toxicity. These include various Allergies, Cancers, MCS — Multiple Chemical Sensitivity and Autism.
As part of taking a proactive stance and responsibility for the quality of our health, cleansing and detoxification are no longer any kind of optional luxury but a necessary lifestyle inclusion. That is, of course, if we are serious about our health, healing and prevention. It is good to point out here too, that practices centered around cleansing and detoxifying our bodies, for example through a practice like fasting that dates back thousands of years, are nothing new. Today, we are simply gaining a greater understanding of and deeper appreciation for their vital role in our lives.
The Best Cleansing and Detoxification Practices
There are numerous ways to cleanse and detoxify your body that you can incorporate as part of your regular lifestyle. These include fasting, juicing, water therapy, herbal therapy, lymphatic drainage, saunas, various types of body and breath work, and diet. The best approach always tends to be the easiest, cheapest and most natural. This means that you do not need to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on supplements or speciality healing regimens. In fact, aside from breath and water, the first and often most effective detox that you should look towards is your diet.
In this regard, there are no two ways around it. Animal foods contribute to internal toxicity, where as plant foods, specifically whole, unprocessed, unrefined plant foods, support cleansing and detoxification. So the more you make your diet a whole-food, plant-based diet, the more you are always supporting your body by decreasing your toxin load, while optimizing and enhancing your body’s detox pathways. Amongst all the different plant foods, all whole fruits and vegetables have the strongest cleansing and detoxifying effects and benefits. However, there are a few extra special ones that I will highlight in the following article for you, which can optimize your body’s detox pathways that much more.
1. Dandelion Greens
This prized plant, that many erroneously treat as a weed, is one of the most beneficial foods and medicines for us. The dandelion health benefits include being an excellent detoxifier as a tonic herb, especially for the blood and liver, with diuretic and mild laxative properties. Dandelions help to cleanse the gallbladder and bile ducts, and promote proper bile flow. They are super rich in vitamins A, C and K, and have powerful antioxidant properties that further support our detoxification pathways. Dandelions also contain some B vitamins and all the essential minerals for our needs, like calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, etc. And of course being a leafy green, dandelions are highly alkalizing and rich in chlorophyll, which further creates the right conditions in the body to detoxify and purify the blood.
Practical Culinary Uses of Dandelion Greens:
Young dandelion leaves have a gentle bitter flavor, often comparable with other leafy greens. The more mature they get or the later in the season that they are picked, the more pronounced and strong their bitter flavor becomes.
- Young dandelion leaves can be used in small or large amounts as part of salads.
- Young or mature dandelion leaves can be used in small or large amounts as part of green smoothies.
- Dandelions can be juiced.
- Mature dandelions can be steamed or cooked, but it is better to consume them in their raw form to avoid losing much of the wonderful nutrition and health benefits that they offer.
2. Cilantro (Coriander Leaf)
Being a leafy green, cilantro also offers outstanding alkalizing properties and chlorophyll to cleanse and detoxify our blood and body. This green herb however, has gained most of its detox fame due to its potential to prevent absorption and aid in the removal of heavy metals. Aside from this, cilantro is an excellent source of vitamins A and K, and also contains some vitamin C, B vitamins and minerals.
Practical Culinary Uses of Cilantro:
Cilantro has a unique and distinctively recognizable strong scent and flavor. Many people find it very appealing and enjoy adding cilantro to various meals.
- It is one of the core ingredients of the traditional Mexican dish guacamole, an avocado-based dip/spread/filling/salad.
- It is one of the core ingredients of the traditional Indian dish Aloo Gobi, based on potato and cauliflower.
- In small quantities, it can be used as a garnish on nearly any savory meal, including soups, stews, chilis, and goes really well as part of wraps or sandwiches.
- It can make amazing sauces, dips and dressings.
- It can also be added to salads and green juices.
Just like the two foods above, being a leafy green makes parsley highly alkalizing and full of the detoxifying benefits of chlorophyll. Parsley also has a powerful cleansing effect on our blood, has diuretic properties and may help with some heavy metal removal. Its obvious pungent scent and flavor reminds us that this is a medicinal green, which can provide healing and protection for our health on many levels. Parsley helps to stimulate most of our key pathways of detoxification, including our bowels, our lungs, liver, kidneys and spleen. It is rich in antioxidants, and has outstanding amounts of vitamins A, C, K and folate, as well as the mineral iron, aside from small amounts of other vitamins and minerals.
Practical Culinary Uses of Parsley:
Parsley has a strong distinctive flavor, which is hard to describe, but easily recognizable. Some people find it very appealing and appetizing, while others very unpleasant. So finding a way to use parsley in a way that works for you is important in order to enjoy all of its health and detox benefits.
- In small quantities, parsley can be used as a garnish on nearly any savory meal, including soups, stews, chilis, STAR meals, and as part of various wraps and sandwiches.
- In large quantities, parsley can be used as part of salads and for juicing.
- Parsley is one of the core ingredients of the traditional Middle Eastern dish Tabbouleh.
Despite lemons having initial acidic properties, they actually provide outstanding alkalizing benefits upon digestion. Next to greens, lemons are best at helping the body maintain the right acid-alkaline balance. They also help to aid digestion by increasing saliva flow, stimulating liver function and have laxative and diuretic properties. Lemons help to remove uric acid and other toxins from the body. Body fat is capable of holding a lot of fat-soluble toxins like preservatives, food additives, heavy metals, pollutants, plastics and other environmental chemicals. Lemons have been shown to help reduce body fat, which in turn helps to reduce the amount of toxins in the body. Finally, lemons are also high in vitamin C, providing excellent antioxidant activity that helps to heal and prevent damage due to oxidative stress.
Practical Culinary Uses of Lemons:
Lemons have a tart or sour flavor that is very refreshing, and can enhance or positively highlight many sweet, spicy and savory meals. Lemons should always be eaten fresh and never heated, to prevent losing and destroying their many health benefits. (Avoid processed/pasteurized lemon juice). Aim to consume the lemon whole, as much as possible, even when juicing. This means using something like a lemon reamer to extract the juice with most of the pulp.
- Lemons squeezed into water make a refreshing and detoxifying drink all on their own.
- Lemons make outstanding additions to sauces like creamy nut sauces, dressings, dips, spreads and fillings.
- Lemons can be squeezed onto salads or other meals, to bring out a wonderful balance and enhancement of flavors. They go especially well with vegetables.
- Lemons can be added to smoothies, and they are normally one of the key ingredients of homemade vegetable juices.
Ginger’s potent aroma and flavor is also indicative of its tremendous medicinal potential, where helping to detoxify the body is just one of its many therapeutic properties. Aside from folklore uses that have documented numerous benefits of ginger over thousands of years, modern research on ginger has shown it to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-nausea and anticancer properties. Ginger helps to improve flow of bodily fluids and stimulate good circulation, which is essential for toxins to be properly carried out of tissues and ultimately out of our body via the skin, bowels and kidneys. It also has antimicrobial and anti-parasitic properties, and is alkalizing.
Practical Culinary Uses of Ginger:
Ginger has a very strong aroma and flavor, which can be overly sharp and spicy if consumed in too large of quantities. With ginger, a little goes a long way, and using large amounts of ginger can create unpalatable meals or drinks. Always aim to use ginger in its fresh and raw form for maximum benefits. High quality dry, powdered ginger can also be a second choice.
- Fresh ginger can be blended in smoothies, as well as juiced.
- Ginger is a common ingredient in many soups, stews, chilis and curries.
- Ginger can be added to flavor creamy plant-based sauces, dressings, dips, spreads and fillings, like lemon-ginger poppy seed sauce.
Garlic is one of the most common foods that people use worldwide and attribute with numerous health benefits. As Ayurveda teaches, garlic’s highly medicinal nature however, should be treated with care and not used haphazardly. For general use, garlic can be one of the best detoxing foods, as it stimulates the liver into producing detoxification enzymes that filter toxic residues from the digestive system and may help to remove heavy metals from the body. Garlic also possesses antimicrobial, anti-parasitic, anti-fungal, anti-viral, anti-tumor and alkalizing properties. Nutritionally, garlic is a powerhouse when it comes to minerals, especially manganese, selenium, calcium and phosphorus, and it is a rich source of vitamin C and B6.
Practical Culinary Uses of Garlic:
Like ginger, the flavor of garlic is very strong and a little goes a long way. Otherwise a meal can become overly sharp and/or bitter if too much garlic is used, not to mention you can experience various unpleasant side-effects of eating too much garlic. Usually 1 clove per person, per day is a safe general guideline. Garlic can be eaten raw or cooked, depending on your health needs and culinary uses.
- Garlic can be used to make all kinds of creamy plant-based sauces, dressings, dips, spreads and fillings, like creamy tahini garlic sauce.
- Garlic can be chopped, minced or blended into almost any savory meal.
- Use caution if juicing garlic, as its extract can burn or upset the lining of the digestive system.
Although often overlooked as powerful healing foods, grapes are actually one of the most perfect foods for us humans, as are all fruits, given that they are highly cleansing for all tissues and glands. Entire healing treatment plans have been structured over the past century in fact, around grapes alone, including safe fasting regimens and the Mucusless Diet. Grapes enhance optimal function of the liver, kidneys and intestines, and are known to speed up metabolic function. Red, purple or dark grapes are typically the best choices, as they offer added benefits of various phytonutrients, like resveratrol. In general, the health and detox benefits of grapes include antioxidant, cardio-protective, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, anti-aging and anti-microbial properties.
Practical Culinary Uses of Grapes:
Grapes have a delightful array of refreshingly sweet and sour flavors. Grapes should be consumed in their fresh, raw and whole forms for maximum health and nutrition benefits. If at all possible, aim to use grapes with seeds, as the seeds provide some of the key benefits for healing and prevention.
- Eat grapes on their own as a snack or meal. (The latter is typically used during specific fasting or healing periods.)
- It is best to eat grapes, like all fruits, on an empty stomach, and not after meals. This means before or in between meals.
- Grapes can be incorporated into fruit salads or smoothies.
- Processed foods made of grapes do not provide the same, if any, health and nutrition benefits.
Like all fruits, grapefruits are very cleansing and detoxifying, and feature their own unique healing and protective properties. They have a cooling and purifying effect on the body, and are especially cleansing for the liver and gallbladder. Grapefruits can help to reduce weight, which as shared above can reduce the toxic load on the body, and help to reduce cholesterol. They also have alkalizing, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and antioxidant properties, and are rich in vitamins C, with pink/red varieties also rich in vitamin A.
Practical Culinary Uses of Grapefruit:
Grapefruits bring out a range of tart, tangy and sweet flavors, depending on the variety. They are very refreshing and juicy, and should always be eaten fresh, whole and raw.
- Grapefruits make great snacks, and like all fruits, should be eaten on their own, on an empty stomach. This means before or in between meals, not directly after.
- Grapefruits can be incorporated into fruit salads or smoothies.
- Processed foods made of grapefruits do not provide the same, if any, health and nutrition benefits.
Given their commonality, many people undermine the power of this amazing fruit. Yet there are many good reasons for the famous saying “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”. The healing, detox and health properties of apples include having alkalizing, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anti-aging, antioxidant and weight reducing benefits. Their fibrous pectin content also enhances digestion and elimination, promoting the excretion of toxic waste, helps to purify the blood and may help with radiation and EMF poisoning.
Practical Culinary Uses of Apples:
Apples range in flavor from slightly sweet to very sweet and from slightly tart to very tart, depending on the variety. They are very refreshing, delicious, juicy and perfect for eating on their own as a snack, whether whole or cut up into wedges. Apples are best eaten fresh, whole and raw, and for most health benefits should not be heated or cooked in any way.
- Apples make great snacks and even entire meals.
- While it is still best to eat apples, like all fruits, on their own and on an empty stomach, apples provide more flexibility for meal pairing without digestive disturbances and fermentation, bloating and gases.
- Apples can be paired with foods like oats, nuts or nut butters if no digestive issues are present.
- Apples can be incorporated into various salads or smoothies.
- Apples are commonly juiced, as part of green and other vegetable juices.
- Apples can be easily made into raw apple sauce.
- You can make all sorts of healthy treats and snacks with apples, like apple-strawberry-almond nice cream or raw apple rhubarb crumble cake.
- Processed foods made of apples do not provide the same, if any, health and nutrition benefits.
- Learn all about how to use apples optimally here in my video.
The rich and deeply red color of beets and their juice gives us a clue about what they help to support — this being our blood. Beets help to purify, cleanse and enrich the blood and liver, optimize function of our lymphatic system, enhance digestion and flush out toxins from the body. The healing, detox and health properties of beets include powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, vascular-protective and anti-cancer effects. Beets are a great source of many vitamins and minerals, including manganese, potassium, folate and vitamin C.
Practical Culinary Uses of Beets:
Beets have an earthy flavor that is usually very pleasant and gently sweet. Beets are versatile root vegetables that can be used as part of numerous foods and drinks.
- Beets can be eaten raw or cooked.
- Beets make outstanding soups, like this simple beet soup.
- Beets can be juiced.
- Beets can be incorporated as part of various raw salads and cooked meals.
For optimally effective and sustainable cleansing and detoxification benefits, always remember to create a diet and lifestyle that is naturally cleansing and detoxifying.