15 Cleansing Foods to Detox Your Body Naturally
Chase the blues—and sluggish energy—with a superfood detox. Think of these tips as a tonic for a more vibrant, healthier you.
Learn to love bitter greens
“Certain times of the year are more suitable for cleansing, specifically to support your liver,” says Josh Axe, DNM, CNS, DC, founder of Ancient Nutrition and DrAxe.com. “Early spring is the best time, in March and April, when in traditional Chinese medicine, the liver is considered its strongest.” To properly help cleanse the liver, says Axe, you should look for a balance of flavors in your diet—salty, sweet, sour, and bitter. “Most people get enough sweet and salt in their diets but not near enough bitter and sour,” says Axe. Sharper tasting detox foods like arugula, kale, watercress, mustard, and dandelion greens, are bitter leafy greens that pack a nutritional bang along with their detoxifying effects.
Drink your lemons
Start your day by filling a pitcher with a few squeezed lemons, ice, and water—just like at the spa! Drinking lemon water gives you extra vitamin C—plus potassium, magnesium, and copper—and helps you absorb more nutrients like iron and calcium from the other foods you eat. According to Dr. Axe, better nutrient absorption often means less bloating. Lemon water stimulates the liver and the flushing out of toxins because it acts as a mild diuretic, which can also help you shed excess water weight. Don’t miss these 15 detox foods that nutritionists recommend.
There are herbs and supplements that help detox the liver, such as milk thistle, the ancient herb bupleurum (a revered natural remedy in Chinese medicine), and dandelion root. Says Dr. Axe: “Bupleurum has been shown to improve general liver function and detoxification, as well as prevent certain cancers in women, and treat depression related to PMS and menopause.” Make a tea with the herbs, adding a slice of sour lemon and fresh lemon balm or mint for a balance of flavors extra feel-good phytochemicals.
Bone broth redux
Our grandmothers and great-grandmothers knew the wisdom of using up chicken and meat bones to make a strong broth for occasional ills and as a basis for hearty soups. Bone broths are good for your immune system and your soul, says Dr. Axe. It’s his first line of treatment for leaky gut syndrome, improving joint health, and boosting the immune system. “It’s one of my favorites when I’m doing a detox because it’s really high in amino acids like glycine, which actually supports liver detox,” he says. “I add lots of vegetables and even green apples.” Find out more about the only cleanse diet that nutritionists approve of.
Fun ways to drink more water
Lemon water is fine, but if you’re serious about spring cleaning with detox foods, you’ll need more water of any and every type. How much should you drink? Dr. Axe advises his clients divide their body weight by half and drink that much in ounces. So, if you weigh 130 pounds your water intake should be 65 ounces a day. If that seems overwhelming, make your water more interesting with flavorful additions like berries and crushed mint, cubed melon, and sliced jalapeno, or cooling slices of cucumber with lemongrass.
Among its many benefits, matcha green tea is known as a powerful anti-carcinogen, and it also helps you lose fat. Epigallocatechin (EGCG) is a component found in the leaves used to make matcha that can transform fat into fuel in the bloodstream through a process called thermogenesis. The process helps you shed pounds, especially when you add the caffeine in matcha; it has three times more than regular green tea. High-quality matcha—it’s worth spending a bit more—is a brilliant green color with a slightly grassy, mildly bitter aftertaste. It makes a refreshing iced tea as well as a hot tea. Dr. Axe points out that matcha’s detox ability is due to its naturally high amount of chlorophyll, which helps cleanse your body and remove toxins from the liver.
Known as a blood cleanser, beets produce nitric acid, which helps increase blood flow throughout your body. According to Dr. Axe, eating beets or drinking the juice provides a boost of vitamin E, carotenes, phenolic acids, and betalains, a type of antioxidant that helps repair and regenerate cells in the liver. Make a cleansing beet, grapefruit, baby greens, and feta salad or combine beets, apples, celery, lemon juice, and a few sprigs of cilantro for a power refresher. Try these cleansing juices to power through your day.
Crazy big salads
A really big salad with the freshest power greens (think baby kale, spinach, watercress, beet greens, and arugula) is an unbeatable combination of detox foods for your body. Top it with spring radishes, shaved fennel, and crunchy hemp and chia seeds. Instead of goopy bottled dressing, keep things clean by gently tossing the salad with a tablespoon or two of extra-virgin olive oil and lemon juice. “I think from salad standpoint, keeping things really fresh with lots of greens, combined with nuts and seeds tossed with a more sour, tahini-lemon dressing with garlic or just sprinkled with apple cider vinegar is a great detoxifier,” says Dr. Axe. You’ll also ensure you’re getting two to five servings of powerhouse vegetables a day, most of your fiber, and a healthy dose of monounsaturated fat from the oil; you’ll also fill fuller longer.
Dial back protein
“Of the four seasons, spring is the time when your body does well with a lower amount of protein,” says Dr. Axe. He advises cutting back on fatty cuts of meat and focusing instead on meals that are three-parts vegetables to one-part meat, poultry, or seafood. Go for traditional Chinese dishes like veggie-heavy stir-fries and Mediterranean grain and vegetable dishes—they’re good, lighter detox foods to aid in your spring cleanse, he says. Look out for the 8 most dangerous detoxes that could send you to the hospital.
Seaweed, the new kale
One of the most nutrient-dense vegetables you can eat, seaweed is high in antioxidants and boasts an array of phytochemicals like polyphenols and fucoxanthin. Seaweeds like dulse, wakame, nori, and kombu are an ancient food source for sea-dwelling communities; they also happen to be popular in traditional Chinese medicine for treating everything from urinary tract infections to tumors. Recently, studies on Asian women found low breast cancer incidence in women who ate lots of seaweed. “When you look at Asia and Japan, they have the longest life expectancy in the world and they have a diet rich in seaweed,” says Dr. Axe. (He suggests you avoid hijiki, common in Japanese cuisine, as it can contain arsenic and higher levels of mercury depending on its source). Seaweed’s potent nutrients can help detox your blood and kidneys and have diuretic properties to help you shed excess water while boosting your immunity.