Toxins build up in the body because healthy biochemical reactions produce waste products that need to be eliminated and because you inhale or swallow harmful substances in the environment. Enzymes detoxify by binding the toxins to glutathione so the body can excrete them. Diet plays an important part in this process, and foods that help in this removal of toxins include green tea, cruciferous vegetables and garlic.
Research at the Arizona Cancer Center, published in “Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention” in 2007, suggests that drinking green tea increases production of enzymes belonging to the glutathione family, crucial to bodily defense against cancer-causing chemicals and toxins that damage cellular DNA. The lead investigator, H.-H. Sherry Chow, Ph.D., reports this is the first clinical study to offer scientific evidence that green tea can aid in body detoxification. Men who drink 10 or more cups of green tea daily are less likely to develop liver disease, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, because green tea may be protecting the liver from damage from toxic substances such as those found in alcohol.
Fresh vegetables are natural foods that are unprocessed and contain phytochemicals with anti-cancer properties. Cruciferous vegetables in particular, including broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale, watercress, horseradish, bok choy and mustard greens, have a characteristic odor indicating they contain sulfur, nitrogen and glucosinolates. Glucosinolates break down into the cancer-fighting phytochemicals such as isothiocyanates. Isothiocyanates may inhibit steroid hormones promoting prostate and breast cancers, stimulating enzymes converting estrogen into a more benign form, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Although harmful free radicals that damage cell membranes are found naturally in the body, toxins in cigarette smoke, air pollution, radiation and ultraviolet light can increase their number. Garlic is rich in antioxidants that neutralize free radicals and acts as a natural detoxifying agent, reducing or preventing cell damage that can contribute to aging, heart disease and cancer. Garlic also contains allicin, which may have antiviral or antifungal properties and may kill the bacteria causing ulcers; however, sufficient scientific evidence supporting this is lacking, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Garlic has blood-thinning properties and can cause side effects such as bloating, upset stomach, headache, dizziness and muscular aches. Consult your doctor before increasing the amount of garlic in your diet.
Onions, Celery and Apples
Foods rich in flavonoids or catechins prevent blood clots, block the growth of tumors and have anti-inflammatory properties, the University of Maryland Medical Center reports. Flavonoids are found in onions, broccoli, apples, kale, celery, cranberries, cherries, berries, parsley, tomatoes, eggplant, thyme, soybeans, purple grape juice, tea and red wine. A healthy diet based on these and other fruits and vegetables, along with lean protein and whole grains, is preferable to any detox diet, according to MayoClinic.com. Always get approval from your doctor before beginning a detox diet.
Francine Juhasz has a doctorate in clinical psychology and is a Qi Gong and yoga teacher, health and nutrition freelance journalist and featured self-help and life-skills speaker. For more than 30 years she has conducted programs, workshops, seminars and private counseling sessions in emotional, mental, marital and sexual health and fitness in universities, elder-care communities and community centers in both the U.S. and Europe.