Fruits, vegetables, seeds and all the nutrient-dense plant-based foods that spring from the earth give our body a gentle nudge to do its best work. Our organs are working around the clock to fight free radicals, and our cells are constantly rejuvenating themselves to keep our bodies in tip-top shape. Among the plant-based superheroes, there are a few with a little extra cleansing power. Here are 10 foods you should incorporate into your diet to support your body's natural cleansing cycle.
Beets are a high-antioxidant root vegetable with plenty of nutrients to support your body's detoxification process. Among these is betaine, a nutrient that helps the liver eliminate toxins. Beets are also a good source of fiber, specifically pectin, which binds to heavy metals in our gut, preventing our bodies from absorbing them. Beets can be eaten both cooked and raw, and you can use the leafy green tops too, so don't throw them away. Try adding beets into you next juice or smoothie for a surprisingly colorful and delicious cleansing boost.
Read more: 10 Ultimate Smoothies for Any Time of Day
Dandelions are a powerhouse food, full of phytonutrients essential for detoxification. Dandelion has been used for hundreds of years to gently stimulate the liver and support healthy kidney function. Our kidneys help to filter waste from our bodies, making this little weed valuable. Dandelion can be consumed as a dandelion root tea or capsule. Or it can be eaten by sautéing the dandelion greens with a little garlic and sea salt.
OK, this may seem like an obvious one, but nearly half of us aren't drinking enough of it. A survey in the 2013 issue of Preventing Chronic Disease found that 43 percent of Americans drink less than four cups of water a day. Water is essential for moving waste through our GI tract, allowing the rest of our organs — liver and kidneys — to do their job. So drink up! While everyone's needs are different, the rule of thumb is eight cups a day. But you may need more or less, depending on your activity level.
Read more: 14 Foods to Help You Get Lean
Probiotics, both in supplement and food form, contain powerful and beneficial bacteria that help balance your gut flora to ensure a healthy digestive ecosystem. Beyond supplements, fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi and kombucha contain probiotic superpowers. Experiment with these foods for a daily dose of good gut health.
Artichokes, an edible flower bud, contain cynarin, a compound that stimulates the liver and gallbladder — key organs in aiding your body's detoxification process. They're also a prebiotic, which means they are a food source for probiotics — the healthy bacteria in our guts — which help keep our digestion running smoothly. Artichokes are naturally low in calories (at 64 apiece) and are rich in fiber (seven substantial grams per choke).
6. Lemons and Grapefruits
Incorporating a half of a grapefruit or a morning mug of warm lemon water or a into your routine promotes a more balanced internal pH. While most people assume that lemons and grapefruits are acidic, they're actually incredibly alkalizing, and alkaline foods have an incredible effect on detoxifying the liver. Like beets, lemons and grapefruits are also a source of pectin. To round them out, these citrus fruits are also high in vitamin C, a key vitamin that promotes healthy liver function.
Read more: 15 Foods That Help You Peel Off the Pounds
Wheatgrass, like lemon juice, helps restore your body's alkalinity. Its alkaline qualities help reduce acidity in the blood, making it a powerful detoxifier and liver protector. It's also loaded with vitamins C and A, calcium and iron. So embrace your inner wellness and down a few shots of wheatgrass — or add it to a smoothie.
Garlic is a detoxification superfood with two major functions. The first is to support your body's liver enzymes, which are critical for the natural detoxification process. And the second is to provide an affective broad spectrum of antimicrobial and antifungal properties. Aside from adding natural flavor to any dish, it's also a prebiotic, which nourishes probiotics, allowing them to do their gut-cleaning work.
Read more: 10 Incredible Garlic Hacks
Chia seeds are powerful little gems packed with fiber and healthy omega-3 fatty acids. When they get wet, they go from a crunchy to pudding-like. When digested, this fiber-filled food cleanses your insides by collecting toxins on their way out. Chia seeds are versatile and can easily be added to smoothies, salads and even as a vegan egg replacement in baked goods.
10. Leafy Greens
These bright, fiber-dense plants are great for sweeping the gut clean. And they're loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that can protect our bodies from the toxins we're regularly exposed to. So don't hang that kale out to dry just yet — for now it's definitely still here to stay.
What Do YOU Think?
Which of these foods have you tried? Which are already a part of your diet? Did any surprise you? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.