Your liver, colon and kidneys neutralise, then break down and flush out harmful substances from the body. Esther Tee, a naturopath and nutritionist at Frunatic – a wellness restaurant that focuses on raw and natural foods – says eating certain fruits and vegetables can give this natural cleansing process a boost.
How it works Contains limonoids, which are phytonutrients that help the liver make an enzyme needed for detoxification. But be warned that grapefruit also contains naringin, a compound that may increase drug effectiveness. If you’re taking prescription medication, speak to your doctor before you start eating more grapefruit, advises Esther.
Have it… As a whole fruit or as a drink – mix a cup of fresh cold-pressed grapefruit juice with two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar – before meals, says Esther.
How it works Has sulphur-containing compounds that activate liver enzymes. These enzymes are responsible for removing toxins from the body. Garlic also contains the antioxidants allicin and selenium, which protect the liver and help in the removal of heavy metals like mercury and lead.
Have it… Raw, and crushed or chopped, which increases the allicin content, explains Esther.
How it works Contains the highest concentration of catechins, powerful antioxidants that can boost liver function. Catechins help to neutralise free radicals that cause cell damage. Green tea also helps to get rid of excess fluid in the body.
Have it… Freshly brewed, two to three cups a day.
How it works It’s high in pectin, a soluble fibre that binds to metals and toxins, and sweeps them through the intestine, reducing the work your liver has to do. It also contains glucaric acid, which helps to remove the oestrogen-like chemicals found in plastic bottles containing bisphenol A (BPA), says Esther.
Have it… As a whole fruit with the skin, and organic, whenever possible.
How it works It helps the liver get rid of harmful chemicals. The fibre-rich vegetable soaks up toxins in your intestines and flushes them out through bowel movement, says Esther.
Have it… Raw or lightly steamed, to preserve its nutrients.
How it works It’s high in vitamin C, which your body needs to make glutathione, a substance that helps the liver process toxins, says Esther. Lemons also stimulate the digestive system.
Have it… With warm water and a pinch of cayenne paper first thing in the morning, recommends Esther. Cayenne pepper helps to improve blood circulation, which helps in the cleansing process.
How it works It boosts metabolism, breaking down proteins and fat, and clears the stomach and intestines of gas. Its warming qualities also help to improve blood circulation, which then helps remove toxins from the blood, says Esther.
Have it… As a drink, together with freshly squeezed lemon juice, advises Esther. Finely grate half an inch of ginger and add it to a glass of water with the juice of half a lemon, and drink up first thing in the morning.
How it works It helps protect the liver against toxin overload and boosts its cleansing power. It is also rich in compounds that produce glutathione.
Have it… Raw, with a drizzle of lemon juice to help your body digest the monounsaturated (good!) fats in the avocado.
How it works “Onions carry sulphur-containing amino acids that make toxins water-soluble so they flush out easily,” says Esther. Onions also contain glutathione-producing compounds.
Have it… Raw and peeled as little as possible – the antioxidants are more concentrated in the outer layers.
This article was originally published in Simply Her August 2013.