By Maylin Rodriguez-Paez, RN | Life Extension Blog
It’s easy to be skeptical of the word, detox. Why? Well, for starters, the sheer amount of products on the market claiming to miraculously detox your body doesn’t exactly do the term justice.
However, the truth of the matter is this: your body actually detoxes every single day.
Your body’s primary detoxifying organ, the liver, works around the clock to keep your system clean. It uses compounds from the foods you eat to turn toxins into less harmful substances that can be safely excreted.
These days, as a result of poor diets and environmental pollutants, many of us could benefit from a little help with this detoxification process. Fortunately, one way to easily accomplish this is by eating nutritious foods.
So, if you’re serious about detoxing, make sure to include these foods into your diet regularly.
Artichokes are more than just a gourmet food. They actually contain compounds which are known to help stimulate bile flow.1
Bile is a substance produced by your liver. It removes toxins and delivers them to your colon for removal. Bile also stimulates peristalsis, which is the movement of your gut. This is important because a sluggish intestine can accumulate harmful toxins.
What perfect irony! The smell that turns so many people off from onions is actually what gives them their detoxifying power.
Onions contain sulfur compounds called allyl sulfides. These help your liver undergo Phase I reactions,2 the first step in your liver’s detoxification of fat soluble toxins.
Betalains are red and yellow pigments found in beets. They help your liver go through Phase II reactions,3 which is a process in which toxins are modified for excretion in the liver.
And if you’re wondering, Phase II reactions follow Phase I reactions. Makes sense, right?
Chlorella are a type of fresh water green algae. In certain cultures, they are an extremely valuable food source.
Rat studies show chlorella supports the removal of dioxin,4 a food toxin linked to reproductive problems and cancer.5 In fact, a study involving women showed chlorella decreased levels of dioxin in breast milk.6
Chlorella’s detoxifying effects might have to do with its chlorophyll content,7 the pigment responsible for its green color.
We can’t underestimate the value of fiber in the detoxification process, and flaxseeds are a great source of it. Just two tablespoons provide 6 grams,8 which is about 20% of your daily needs.
Flaxseeds contain both soluble and insoluble fiber, which support regularity and toxin removal. In particular, soluble fiber attaches to bile and helps its elimination. Remember, bile is one of the main ways your body gets rid of toxins.
Flaxseeds also protect against toxic estrogens. Their lignans decrease blood levels of 17-beta estradiol and estrone9 — two estrogens implicated in hormone-related cancers.
The Bottom Line
The first step in ANY detox program should be to enhance your own “built-in” detox system — your liver.
For this reason, including foods in your diet that support your liver’s detoxifying abilities just makes a lot of sense.
Want to read more info on supporting your body’s natural detox system? Here’s a Life Extension protocol about supporting your liver with nutrients.
Have you tried detoxing with foods yourself? If so, has it helped? Please share your experiences with us in the comments!
- Phytomedicine. 2002 Dec;9(8):687-93.
- Food Chem Toxicol. 2004 May;42(5):743-9.
- Nutr Cancer. 2005;53(1):91-103.
- Chemosphere. 2005 Apr;59(2):297-304.
- Available at: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs225/en/. Accessed October 28, 2012.
- J Med Food. 2007 Mar;10(1):134-42.
- Biofactors. 2004;21(1-4):375-7.
- Available at: http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/nut-and-seed-products/3163/2.Accessed October 28, 2012.
- Nutr Cancer. 2001;39(1):58-65