Detox is a trendy word in health and beauty circles. It is short for detoxification, which refers to removing toxins from your body or cleansing your body of pollutants and chemicals. Detoxing is an integral part of maintaining and achieving vibrant health, and can also be a quick route to losing weight.
We’re bombarded by chemicals and toxins on a daily basis. These come from the foods you eat, the air you breathe, the beauty products you apply to your body, and many other things you come into contact with. Ideally, we’d avoid coming into contact with all the bad guys, but that’s not possible. Our best bet is to reduce exposure and consume foods that help our body get the toxins out.
My personal detoxification strategy is to consume foods that bind to and help pass toxins out of the body, as well as those that support the body’s natural detoxification efforts. You can accomplish both of these at the same time with smoothies.
A quick note on detox diets, which are becoming increasingly more popular. A typical detox diet involves severely restricting calories and eating only those foods or liquids that help detoxify the body. This can last for a period of days, or even over a week. A traditional detox is not easy to do, and furthermore, there is little scientific evidence that it does you any good. Not only is it difficult to limit your calories so severely, doing so can actually cause you harm. Detoxing in this way can make you tired and fatigued. It can even lead you to have nutrient deficiencies or to become dangerously dehydrated. Extreme detox diets are risky and difficult. For these reasons, I do not advocate detox diets or detox smoothie diets.
A better approach to limiting and eliminating toxins from your body is to use regular and small detox strategies. This may include getting exercise every day, taking a sauna, drinking plenty of pure water, practicing dry skin brushing, and eating organic foods. You can also help detoxify your body a little bit every day by thoughtfully creating smoothies that include naturally detoxifying ingredients. There are many such ingredients that are tasty, nutritious, and promote toxin release that work well in smoothies. Include these in your daily smoothies to help keep your body clean and healthy.
Detoxifying Smoothie Ingredients
Lemons and Limes: Lemons and limes are powerful little citrus fruits. Packed with vitamin C, a potent antioxidant, the fruits also help to restore the acid and alkaline balance in your body. This makes it easier for your body to naturally flush out toxins.
Cilantro: This controversial herb is a great way to eliminate heavy metals from your body. Not everyone loves the flavor of cilantro, but compounds in the leaves of the plant can bind to heavy metals like lead and mercury, and flush them out of your body. If you love this herb, it is easy to add a handful to your next green smoothie. If you can’t stand the taste, try parsley, which has a lesser, but similar effect on the body.
Fennel: Fennel is a tasty root vegetable with a light licorice flavor. Fennel is a diuretic, which means it flushes fluids out of the body, and has anti-inflammatory properties. It also activates an antioxidant in the liver called glutathione. This compound attaches to and removes damaging free radicals. You can juice fennel for an easy smoothie additive.
Watermelon: This delicious and refreshing summer fruit is also a great cleanser. In particular, watermelon helps to cleanse the liver and the kidneys. It is a powerful hydrator thanks to the high amount of water. This fruit can keep you hydrated while also flushing out toxins.
Ginger: Ginger is a fantastic smoothie additive for detoxing. It promotes good digestion and helps to flush waste out of your system by pushing foods through your digestive tract more quickly. Ginger also makes you feel better when you have an upset stomach and has anti-inflammatory properties.
Dandelion Greens: These are not the most common greens that you will see in the supermarket, but they are the best when it comes to cleansing. Compounds in dandelion greens promote good liver and kidney function and help these organs to better flush toxins from the body. Additionally, dandelion greens act like a diuretic and have a slight laxative effect, further cleansing the body. Early spring greens taste best, but later, more bitter greens can be hidden in flavorful smoothies.
Green Tea: Tea is a great liquid for smoothies, especially if you are detoxing. It has no calories, and if you use green tea, it will add lots of antioxidants, including EGCG, which helps to protect the liver from toxin damage. Green tea is also a diuretic, so it will help you produce urine and pass more toxins from your body.
Kale: Kale provides the body with fiber and chlorophyll, both of which support the body’s natural detoxification efforts. Fiber binds with toxins and other undesirables in your digestive tract and helps usher them out. Chlorophyll helps to remove heavy metals and other toxins from the body. In order to successfully detox you need to get the waste out.
Watercress: For a cleansing green that will not alter the flavor of your smoothie to any great extent, try fresh watercress. This delicate green is a powerful cleanser because it helps to improve circulation and oxygenate body tissues. By increasing circulation, your body can more effectively flush out toxins. As an added bonus, watercress improves the appearance of skin.
Arugula: This is another light green that you can easily pack into a smoothie without adding much flavor. Arugula does have a little bit of a spicy kick, but the taste is still mild if you add it to a flavorful, fruity smoothie. Compounds in this green include those that help speed detoxification, like indole-3-carbinol and sulforaphane.
Wheatgrass: Long popular at juice bars, wheatgrass is young wheat and it is believed to have potent detoxifying abilities. The only disadvantage to using wheatgrass is that you need to juice it to get to the good stuff. The cell walls in wheatgrass are sturdy, so juicing is needed to break them down and to release the nutrients. If you have a juicer, a shot of wheatgrass juice in a smoothie will give you a good detox kick.
Avocado: If you are detoxing to lose weight, you may feel like you need to avoid fats. Healthy fats, however, are important for cleansing the body. The monounsaturated fats in avocados help to release bile from the gall bladder and this promotes the passing of toxins. Furthermore, the fats help your body to absorb and use fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K. Along with the fat, avocados are also rich in fiber, which helps aid in digestion and the elimination of toxins. In a smoothie, avocado adds a rich flavor and creamy texture, and helps to keep you feeling full.
Cranberries: Cranberries help clear toxins and plaque buildup from the body by cleansing the organs involved in elimination and the lymphatic system. There’s even a popular cranberry juice detox diet, which I don’t advise, as a testament to their cleansing prowess.
Apples: Apples are a good way to add sweetness and flavor to a smoothie without adding too much sugar. In addition to their natural sweeteners, apples are rich in pectin. This is a compound that absorbs toxins and helps your digestive system sweep them out of the body. Another compound in apples, glucaric acid, helps the body get rid of heavy metals and chemicals that are similar to estrogen.
Yogurt: Yogurt is a popular ingredient in smoothies. It adds creaminess and flavor, while also helping to give a smoothie the right texture. Yogurt is rich in probiotics, the bacteria that your digestive system needs to function properly. These little microbes aid your digestion and also help to give your immune system a boost. Just make sure that you use plain yogurt. Flavored yogurts have a lot of added sugar. If you also need more protein in your diet, use Greek style yogurt.
Pineapple: Pineapple is a delicious fruit that adds a wonderful, sweet flavor to smoothies. It also contains an enzyme, called bromelain, that helps improve digestion and cleanses the colon. Just be careful when adding pineapple to a smoothie with dairy products. The high acid content of the fruit can curdle milk.
Spirulina & Chlorella: These potent green superfoods have been shown to help detox heavy metals from the body. They bind to and usher heavy metals out of the body through the process of chelation. Spirulina and chlorella are also extremely nutritive.
Beets: The beet root is a delicious vegetable with a vibrant, purple-red color. Although often used in stews, soups, or roasts, beets actually work well with smoothies because they are naturally sweet. Beet juice, in particular, is easy to add to a smoothie recipe. The compounds that give beets their fantastic coloring are called betalains. Betalains have anti-inflammatory properties and help repair cells, especially in the liver where detoxification largely occurs. Beets also help to flush out the lymph nodes.
You have a lot of options when it comes to adding detox-friendly ingredients to your smoothies. Most of these either add a nice flavor to a smoothie, or can be hidden by other, more flavorful ingredients. There are other foods that you may not want to put in a smoothie, but which can aid in detoxing your body. Try using these foods in your meals that supplement your smoothie diet. They include garlic, onions, sesame seeds, basil, artichokes, fennel, cabbage, broccoli, and collard greens. Getting more vitamin V (variety), or consuming an array of healthy foods is what this all boils down to.
Traditional detox diets are faddish, extreme, and usually don’t do much good. You can’t keep up with a diet like that over the long term. Instead, try consuming foods every day that have detoxifying properties. Add to that other cleansing lifestyle activities like getting exercise, drinking plenty of clean water, and avoiding toxins, and you will never need a drastic detox.
There are 10, and counting, detox smoothie recipes published on my site that feature many of the ingredients listed above. To peruse them, click here.
You can also browse my smoothie recipes by ingredient page for ideas on using any of the ingredients above. Here’s my current favorite detox smoothie:
Tropical Cilantro Smoothie Recipe
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup cilantro
- 1 cup fresh or frozen pineapple chunks
- 1 cup fresh or frozen mango chunks
- Juice of 1/2 lime
- A dash of Celtic sea salt or other high quality salt
- 1/4 avocado
- 1/2 cup fresh or frozen papaya chunks
- A little ginger
Place all of the ingredients into your blender and blend for 30-45 seconds or until the desired consistency is reached.
Other Detoxification Strategies
There’s plenty of ways to detox that lovely body of yours :)
- Adequate sleep: Your liver and other internal organs detox during the night. Studies have emerged that your brain also detoxes while you sleep.
- Proper Hydration: As mentioned above consuming enough water and other fluids throughout the day is important. I like to drink a glass of water upon rising to ensure I’m hydrated to start the day, and help usher out any toxins my internal organs “cleaned up” that night.
- Exercise: Any form will do, whether it be yoga, weight training, running, or a favorite sport. Moving your body and sweating is crucial for your overall health and an effective means of detoxing.
- Detox Baths: Epsom salt, apple cider vinegar, clay, and baking soda are a few things you can detox with. For a great article on which detox baths are best for what ailments, click here.
- Herbs: There are number of herbs that can assist your detox efforts. I like to take tinctures of burdock, dandelion, and milk thistle for example.
- Healthy Fats: Coconut oil, butter, and other natural occurring fats found in grass- animals, eggs, and sea food have been shown to cleanse the entire body. In particular they help get rid of all heavy metals.
- Greens: Green leafy vegetables help usher toxins out of the body by supporting your organs responsible for detoxing. Dandelion aids the liver for example. Green smoothies and juice are also helpful.
- Clay: The practice of consuming clay or earth (geophagy) is a another sound strategy for removing toxins from your body.
- Colon Hydrotherapy: This is a little more extreme. If your body really needs to expel loads of toxins fast, try a colonic.
Everyone has different opinions on detoxification. Please share your thoughts in the comments below. What’s worked for you, and what hasn’t been so successful that others might benefit from avoiding?
Sources for this blog post include: