Anyone else have spring cleaning on their mind? Just like it’s important to periodically deep clean and clear-out unnecessary clutter around the house, spring is a great opportunity to brighten up your meals with the fresh flavors of leafy greens, onions, radishes, berries, and fresh herbs and you might be happy to know many of them support your body’s natural cleaning (detoxification) process.
What is Detoxification?
Detoxification is your body’s process for breaking down and eliminating toxins. We are all exposed to toxins every day through food, water, and the air we breathe. Toxins include those naturally found in tiny quantities in foods, but also synthetic toxins found in medicines, pesticides, and preservatives. In fact, the body even makes its own toxins through normal everyday processes like digestion, metabolism, and physical activity (e.g., urea which is excreted in the urine).
The good news is your body does a great job breaking down toxins and eliminating them, especially with the right nutrition. Your body’s natural detoxification pathways, in the liver and kidneys, include many enzymes that require vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to function optimally. By getting enough essential vitamins and minerals, you’re supplying your detox enzymes what they need to work.
Leafy greens like lettuce, spinach, chard, sprouts, and even dandelion leaves (no spray) are abundant in the spring. Leafy greens contain vitamin C which supports the biotransformation of toxins into a form excretable by the body, while the beautiful green pigment, chlorophyll, helps trap and eliminate toxins. Leafy greens serve as an excellent “fertilizer” for healthy bacteria in our gut which supports the final step of detoxification-elimination. Here are few ideas for starting your day with fresh and cleansing leafy greens:
· Add spinach, lettuce, parsley, or kale to a smoothie (see detox smoothie)
· Sauté spinach, kale, or chard to an egg scramble or omelet
· Discover how delicious salad can be for breakfast (see breakfast salad recipe)
Radishes: a detox powerhouse
Radishes are rich source of isothiocyanate, a beneficial plant compound found in cruciferous vegetables (think Brussel sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, Bok choy). These lovely red root vegetables are often the first sign of spring gardening. Isothiocyanates support the expression of enzymes that assist in biotransformation – metabolism and elimination of toxins from the body. Isothiocyanate can also help regulate blood sugar and protect against insulin resistance. High in vitamin C and antioxidants, radishes provide powerful defense against aging and chronic disease.
The red radish (globe radish) is typically what we think of when hear radish, but watermelon radishes and Daikon radish are also common varieties. Here are a few of my favorite ways to eat radishes:
Rinse and eat radishes raw for an afternoon pick-me-up
Add sliced or grated radish to tacos, stir-fries, salads, and sandwiches
Roast radishes with olive oil, salt and pepper
Enjoy sliced radishes with hummus, guacamole, or any favorite dips
Allium family - onions, chives, scallions, garlic, leeks
The Allium family, rich in antioxidants, including quercetin, is well known for its anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and cardioprotective effects. A 2021 research article demonstrated over 13 health functions of onions ranging from anti-diabetic activity and neuroprotection to lowering levels of inflammation and toxicity in the liver. Onions are low-cost, store for extended periods of time, and incredibly versatile. Add them to soups, salads, stir-fries, sandwiches, and egg dishes to give your body a boost of spring cleaning.
Bottom line: Every meal is an opportunity to support your body’s natural detoxification process. Restrictive diets are not always helpful when it comes to detox. Instead focus on including foods that support biotransformation of toxins into a form the liver, kidneys, or gut can effectively excrete – think plant-based foods! Do your best to minimize excess sugar, processed ingredients, and damaged/fried oils.
Curious if your detoxification system is working at its optimal level?
Send me an inquiry today to learn more about functional nutrition tests that can reveal your detoxification status. In the meantime, start your day with these delicious and “spring cleaning” recipes:
Breakfast Salad with Eggs
Source: Kerry Gundlach
2-3 cups mixed Salad Greens or Arugula
2 radishes, sliced or grated
1 carrots, shredded
1-2 green onion, diced
Balsamic vinegar (or drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice)
2 eggs, fried, scrambled, or boiled and sliced
1. Place several handfuls of leafy greens in a bowl.
2. Top with grated carrots, radishes, green onions and drizzle with dressing.
3. Top with eggs prepared to your liking.
4. Serve with a side of fruit or leftover sweet potato. Enjoy!
Green Detox Smoothie
Source: LivingPlate Rx
1 cup romaine lettuce, chopped
½ cup pineapple
2 tsp ginger, peeled and chopped
1 cup cucumber, chopped
2 cups water
2 kiwis, peeled and chopped
2 Tablespoons parsley, fresh, chopped
Find the Ease in Meal Planning
Remember that meal planning is key to staying on track with healthy living goals. If your current system isn’t working, it might be time to switch gears. Try out my meal planning program to save time while enjoying delicious recipes.