After weeks of sweets and imbibing in far too much champagne, we admit we’re actually ready to return to a more balanced diet. But instead of starting off the New Year with an over-the-top detox that’s too strict to sustain, why not try adding detox foods to your menu rather than worrying about what you should subtract from it? These foods and ingredients work alone to rejuvenate your system, no Master Cleanse required.
Lemon WaterFirst things first: “Start the day with a cup of hot water with lemon in it,” says nutrition coach Raya Ioffe. Not only does it detox the lymphatic system, but it “increases the efficiency of the digestive system, which alone will help to get the body to begin detoxing.”
CilantroCharcoal may be trending as a great way to remove inflammatory metals from the body, but Ioffe has a tastier option for you: cilantro. “It helps pick up toxic heavy metals from our body and carry them out,” she says. She recommends adding the spice to guacamole and salsa, or even sprinkling it on top of soups.
Apple Cider VinegarGet your system going before you eat by drinking one teaspoon or tablespoon of apple cider vinegar diluted in water 20 minutes before a meal. “It helps to jump start the stomach to produce the necessary acids that break down proteins in our food,” says Ioffe. “This means that there won’t be any leftover food for bacteria or yeasts to feast on and make more toxins in our body.”
TurmericThis bright yellow spice—a staple in Indian food—supports the liver, which is one of our main detox organs,” says Integrative Nutrition & Wellness Coach Maria Marlowe. “The liver acts as a filter, deciding which nutrients from the foods we eat should pass through to the bloodstream, and which toxins should be broken down or packaged up for removal. When the liver gets sluggish, due to bombardment with toxins from food, water, beauty products, cleaning products, and more, it works sub-optimally, and toxins can mistakenly pass through to the bloodstream, which is why it’s important to nourish the liver.” She recommends consuming one teaspoon a day in anything from veggie stir fries to smoothies, teas, and curries.
Chia SeedsThis dose of fiber helps to regulate bowel movements. “Fiber helps to add bulk to stool and eliminate toxins as it kind of sweeps into the intestines,” says Ioffe. Not only can you add chia seeds to any smoothie or sprinkled on yogurt, Ioffe recommends a chia seed pudding: “It’s like eating a detox dessert—incredibly yummy and super healthy.”
Dark Leafy Greens“When you’re green on the inside, you’re clean on the inside,” Marlowe advises. Greens, such as kale, swiss chard, arugulam and spinach, are not only high in fiber, but they “help to neutralize toxins and free radicals in the body, which also deliver a hefty dose of vitamins, particularly A, C and K.” She recommends consuming 2-4 cups a day, either raw or cooked.
Shallots“Sulfur-rich shallots cleanse the liver and support skin health,” says Marlowe. “They stimulate the digestive juices, which helps increase the absorption of nutrients.” Add them to salads or use in any dish that calls for onions.
Orange VeggiesCommon orange vegetables, like carrots, orange cauliflower, and orange bell peppers, contain vitamin C, beta carotene, and antioxidants. “Yes, [they] are good for our eyes, but they also boost the immune system and fight free radicals in the body,” says Janell Sycks, the owner of Pantry TakeOver. Add these veggies to your daily diet wherever possible.
GarlicForget the bad breath, and consider the health benefits instead. “[Garlic] is anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, helps the liver detoxify, and kills the bad stuff at the same time,” says Sycks. Add the spice to any fish or chicken dish, or even to add flavor to any veggie. The options are endless.
ProbioticsWhen an unhealthy diet gets the best of you, use a probiotic to get back on track with little effort. “Probiotics are organisms (bacteria or yeast) that can help maintain the protective barrier function of the intestines and help restore our own healthy bacteria so it can do its job in supporting our immune system through disruptive environmental changes,” says health expert, nurse and Manager of Pharmaceutical Affairs at Biocodex USA KarenKatsirubas. Depending on the body’s imbalance, she recommends taking a supplement daily or twice daily.