Now that the holiday season has come to a close, you may be noticing that the seemingly endless amounts of treats and indulgences over the past couple of months have started to take their toll. Whether your pants are feeling a bit snug or your energy levels have totally tanked, it may be time for a detox.
While juice and bone broth fasts can be beneficial, they’re not always necessary for a post-holiday detox. In fact, your body is equipped with its own built-in detox system—made up of the liver, kidneys, colon and lungs—that is designed to do the hard work for you. By giving your body the right fuel and simply incorporating more detox foods into your daily diet, you can rid yourself of the holiday bloat and get back on track towards your health goals in no time.
Here are 5 of the best foods that you should be eating to help your body naturally detox.
1) Brussels Sprouts
Roasted, steamed or sautéed, this hearty winter vegetable is just as versatile as it is nutritious. As a member of the cruciferous family of plants, Brussels sprouts are closely related to nutrition superstars like broccoli, cabbage and kale and are rich in many important nutrients that your body needs, including fiber, vitamin C and vitamin K. Plus, Brussels sprouts have also been shown to protect the liver and aid in detoxification.
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In a 2011 study, mice fed a diet containing oven-dried Brussels sprouts exhibited increased levels of detoxification enzymes after just two weeks. Another small study in the journal “Carcinogenesis” had similar findings, reporting that eating 300 grams of Brussels sprouts daily bumped up the levels of detox enzymes by as much as 30 percent. (2)
Try serving Brussels sprouts as a nutritious side dish or add them to a stir-fry, pasta or salad to amp up the nutrient profile of your main course.
Recipe to try: Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Apples and Pecans
Grapefruits have long been revered for their naturally detoxifying properties. Not only is this delicious citrus fruit jam-packed with tons of key vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that can give your overall health a boost, but it’s also been shown to aid in natural detoxification by improving liver health as well. In fact, an animal study in the “Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry” actually found that grapefruit juice increased the activity of several liver enzymes involved in detoxification.
For a satisfying snack, try cutting your grapefruit in half and drizzling on a bit of raw honey to cut some of the bitterness. Just keep in mind that grapefruit may interfere with some medications, so be sure to check with your doctor before chowing down.
From relieving inflammation to enhancing cognition, there are plenty of good reasons to add this vibrant vegetable to your diet. And when it comes to detoxification, numerous studies in recent years have begun to unearth benefits of beetroot juice.
In one animal study, beetroot juice helped protect the liver against oxidative stress and even reduced lipid peroxidation, a marker of cell damage, by 38 percent. Additionally, another animal study published in “Phytotherapy Research” found that beetroot juice significantly increased the levels of several enzymes involved in detoxification.
Beets make a great addition to smoothies, salads or side dishes and can also be easily juiced to take advantage of their many medicinal properties.
Recipe to try: Roasted Beets with Balsamic Thyme Glaze
It’s no secret that nuts are super healthy; they’re loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein and heart-healthy fats. But did you know that nuts can also help support natural detoxification as well?
Including a serving or two of nuts in your daily diet can increase your fiber intake and help support regularity. Not only that, but several studies have even found that eating more nuts may be associated with a decreased risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease as well as improved liver enzyme levels.
So what are the healthiest nuts that you should be adding to your diet? Look for unsalted, dry-roasted nut varieties such as walnuts, almonds and pecans and skip the pre-shelled or pre-seasoned nuts to get the most nutritional bang for your buck. Additionally, make sure you keep your portion sizes in check—nuts may be high in nutrients, but the calories can stack up fast.
Tiny but powerful, blueberries are bursting with nutrients that can help jumpstart any detox. In fact, blueberries are an awesome source of anthocyanins, a type of plant pigment that act as antioxidants and can have a powerful effect on your health. Blueberries also have a high water content, which can help keep you hydrated and also ease digestion and elimination to get (and keep!) things moving. Additionally, according to a 2010 animal study, giving mice blueberries helped protect liver cells against oxidative stress and enhanced immune cell function.
Sprinkle blueberries onto your yogurt or oatmeal, toss it into your morning smoothie or enjoy a handful on its own to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Recipe to try: Healthy Blueberry Cobbler