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.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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, drinking a smoothie a day 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.