9 Foods to Help You Detox From the Holidays

Posted by Grace McCalmon on

The holiday season has come to a close. Cue the sad trombone. We’ve stuffed ourselves with stuffing, drank the nog dry, and sampled enough baked brie to open an artisanal cheese shop. Fitting with tradition, Monday, January 4th will be one of the biggest “Diet starts Monday,” Mondays of 2016. But if you’re dreading an austere winter filled with nothing but gym classes, juicing, and bland, boiled chicken, good news:

You don’t have to go hungry to bounce back from the holidays!

There are delicious, real foods that have been proven to help your body eliminate toxins and promote a healthy inflammatory response. The best part is, you can actually eat them – no juicing or blending necessary. Unless you want to, of course.

 But isn’t “detoxing” a scam?

 Before we get to the foods, let’s clear this issue up. Detoxing has gotten a lot of bad press. Many people say detoxes and cleanses do nothing but leave you hungry, cranky, and short a couple of Andrew Jacksons. And many of those people are right – it all depends on what’s on the menu.

The fact is: Detoxification is a real, three-phase process, which requires very specific nutrients to run effectively.

 Phase I of your body’s detoxification process requires folate (L-methylfolate specifically) calcium, and vitamins B3, B6, B12, A, C, and E. Phase II requires the amino acids glutamine, glycine, taurine, and cysteine, which come from protein. Phase III requires water, fiber, protein, and fat. Antioxidants such as CoQ10, selenium, and the minerals copper and zinc, are also required.

You don’t need to eat these nutrients in any specific order; you just need to make sure you’re getting them in your diet regularly.

Our livers do a brilliant job detoxing our bodies, but between nutritional stressors such as alcohol, caffeine, and refined sugar, environmental toxins, and lifestyle stressors, we work them pretty hard. The holidays are no exception, so why not give them a little extra support by eating the nutrients that help them do their job?

Here are the top 9 most delicious detoxing foods…that actually work.

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 GRASS-FED BUTTER When you think cleansing, a slab of butter might not be the first thing you imagine, but butter is a rich source of antioxidant vitamins A, D, E and K2. The fat in butter also helps you absorb these fat-soluble vitamins in your vegetables. In fact, a study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that the cardiovascular benefits of fruits and vegetables were only exhibited when the diet also included high-fat dairy products! Fat is also needed for your gall bladder to release bile – an important component in detoxification, as bile helps carry toxins from your liver to your colon. Why grass fed? Any butter at the grocery store will offer some of the nutrients you need, but multiple studies have shown that products from grass-fed animals are higher in both minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids, which help promote a healthy inflammatory response. Pasture-raised animal products are also the richest known source of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a powerful nutrient that has been proven to help support the body’s immune system. Cooking tip: put it on ANYTHING. bison_small_black BISON Another food you might not expect to see on this list, bison is high in protein. Protein is needed to bind to the toxic byproducts created in phase II and carry them out of our body in phase III. If you don’t have protein to make amino acids, your body will steal them from your muscle tissue. Bison is a rich source of antioxidants including vitamin E, beta-carotene, and selenium. The nature of bison muscle structure makes it leaner than beef, and it’s a great source of omega 3s. Grass-fed bison contains three to six times the amount of omega 3s found in grain-fed animal products. Additionally, while labels can be misleading as to whether animal products are 100% grass-fed, you can be sure bison meat has no growth hormones (it’s illegal), and bison usually isn’t treated with antibiotics. Cooking tip: Mix ground bison with chopped onions to make bison burgers. Onions contain sulfur compounds that are necessary for phase II. brussels_small CRUCIFEROUS VEGETABLES Vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and mustard greens contain glucosinolates, sulfur-containing compounds that have been proven to support the immune system, and speed the second phase of our body's detoxification process. Ideally, we want phase I and II to run at the same pace, but, usually, our phase I is in overdrive, since substances such as caffeine, alcohol, pesticides, paint fumes, and exhaust fumes all speed phase I.

Cruciferous vegetables help get phase I and phase II into balance.

Cruciferous veggies are also higher than citrus fruits in vitamin C, which is required in large amounts during phase I and II. Cooking tip: To maximize their nutrient content, chop your cruciferous vegetables and let them rest for a bit – this makes the glucosinolates more active. Cook them lightly (this will help preserve the vitamin C) and serve with a generous helping of grass-fed butter and sea salt. eggs_small PASTURED EGGS Egg yolks are a good source of fat and protein, and they are also high in sulfur compounds. Like the other animal proteins on this list, pastured eggs have been shown to have twice as much vitamin E and long-chain omega 3 fats, and over thirty percent more vitamin A, as eggs of commercial hens. How to shop for eggs: The terminology can get kind of confusing, but, in this case, it’s important to look for the words “pasture-raised.” The USDA’s (and industry standard) definition for “free range” is only that birds must have “access to the outdoors.”  In some cases, this is only a small hole where the birds can pop their heads out, with no full-body access to the outdoors and no minimum space requirement. “Vegetarian-fed” simply means that the chickens are fed grain, corn, and soy, which, in many cases can be full of GMOS. “Pasture-raised” means the hens are allowed to be outdoors year-round, grazing on their natural diet of insects and grasses. Buying “pasture-raised” eggs, although a bit more expensive, is better for your health, the environment, and the animals too! Cooking tip: Try a three-egg omelet cooked in butter. Bonus points for adding cilantro, which some research shows helps help rid the body of heavy metals.  sardines_small WILD-CAUGHT FISH Like grass-fed bison, wild-caught salmon has been shown to contain ten times more omega 3s than omega 6s, whereas farmed salmon only contains 3-4 times more. Fish is also an excellent source of selenium, an antioxidant that’s needed for detoxification and can help protect against the harmful effects of mercury. When eating fish, we recommend you stick to smaller, fish, like sardines. Smaller fish contain less mercury and tend to be more plentiful, making them less likely to be overfished or caught in ways that may cause lasting damage to our oceans. For more info on how to eat fish that’s good for you and the planet, check out Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch guide. Cooking tip: Mix a can of wild-caught salmon with half an avocado and chopped red onion for an easy, detox salmon salad. beans_small BEANS AND RICE For our vegan and vegetarian readers, you can still help your body detox without going animal-style. You just need to be intentional about eating complete plant-based protein sources that deliver all nine amino acids, such as beans and rice, or quinoa. Beans have the added benefit of soluble fiber, which will help your body move out toxins and waste. Cooking tip: Sautée chickpeas, chopped Brussels sprouts, and onions in butter, with sea salt, black pepper, and a dash of cayenne. Eat over brown or white rice. sprouts_small BROCCOLI SPROUTS Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable and great for running phase II, but sprouted broccoli seeds are an even better source of the compound glucoraphanin, which creates sulforaphane when chewed or swallowed. Sulforaphane has been shown to be the most potent natural inducer of phase II detoxification enzymes. In fact, researchers from Johns Hopkins found that broccoli sprouts actually helped cleanse Chinese citizens who live in one of the most polluted cities in the world. Cooking tip: Add sprouts to your bison burger, into a veggie wrap, or on top of your salmon salad. beets_small BEETS Perhaps not everyone’s childhood favorite, beets are actually very tasty (especially when roasted), and total nutritional powerhouses. One cup has 37% your RDV of folate, which is necessary for phase I. Beetroot also contains glycine, which is key to phase II. Glycine protects the liver from the damaging effects of alcohol, and helps our bodies flush out toxins by stimulating bile flow. On top of all that, beets might also help you stick to those New Year’s gym resolutions.

Researchers found beet juice allows muscles to use oxygen so much more efficiently, it has been recommended as an alternative to performance-enhancing drugs!

Cooking tip: Wash, slice and roast beets with a generous serving of coconut oil and sea salt. The sea salt adds essential minerals, while the coconut oil has antimicrobial, antibacterial properties. kimchi_small FERMENTED FOODS Since you’re helping your body get rid of all that toxic build up, you need to make sure you actually get it out with regular bowel movements. Feeding your colon good, healthy bacteria, or, probiotics, helps it to function properly and move out the waste. Probiotics occur naturally in fermented foods such as raw sauerkraut (not pasteurized) and kefir. Yogurt also contains some probiotics, but make sure the label reads ‘contains live active cultures.’ It’s best to stick with unflavored yogurts and kefirs. Fruity or flavored brands can contain a lot of sugar, which can deplete minerals, tax the liver, and feed bad gut bacteria. Cooking tip: DON’T cook these foods – that will kill the live bacteria. Instead, try raw kimchi or sauerkraut, or plain kefir topped with raw honey and mixed berries. So put down the lemon juice and maple syrup and rejoice: you no longer have to spend the next four weeks in sensory deprivation! You can have your cleanse and eat it too, with these nine delicious foods that delight the taste buds and help detox the body. Who knew resolutions could taste this good?
  Know anyone who's planning on a January filled with kale juice and chicken breast? Share this with them! What's your favorite way to eat these delicious detoxing foods? We'd love to hear in the comments!      

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