Daily Detox in Five Easy Steps

Feeling sluggish and ready for a cleanse? You don’t need to starve yourself to clear out your system. There are small things you can do each day to support healthy digestion and a deeper level of detox.

Kripalu presenters Annie B. Kay, MS, RDN, LDN, E-RYT 500,­­­­ and John Bagnulo, MPH, PhD, are experts on the topics of nutrition and optimum body health. They offered a few simple, everyday tips that can help anyone practice healthy eating with a detox-minded approach. The key is to choose foods consciously, so you don’t burden your systems.

1. Quit processed foods. First up: Remove processed foods from your diet for a while. “Take a sabbatical from sugars, salt, processed foods, and alcohol,” says Annie. “This is plenty of detox for most. Starting with a simple, plant-based diet is always the best place to begin to clean up your diet, especially if you’ve been indulging in extra treats over the holidays, as many of us do.”

2. Water, water, water. “Fluid is the medium that flushes toxins from the body, so you want to be well hydrated,” notes Annie. “But simply drinking more water will not do the heavy detox lifting. Most toxins are fat soluble and have to be made water soluble so they can be eliminated with water-based exit strategies.” Lemon is great for this—John recommends adding a whole lemon, peel and all, to a smoothie or vegetable drink for extra detox value. “Let your daily detox follow the season,” he says: In cold weather, sip warm water with lemon and/or herbal teas. In the warmer months, room temperature or cooler water is good.

3. Greens are awesome. Vegetables, especially greens, are the nutrient-dense cornerstones of everyday detox. “I recommend boosting your seasonal plant intake to at least half the plate,” says Annie. One detox powerhouse is broccoli, which like other brassica vegetables contains the phytochemical sulforaphane. Sulforaphane participates in the biotransformation of toxic compounds, making them easier to flush out of the body, she says. Eating greens with each meal is ideal, John says. “Bitter greens like escarole and endive may be the most beneficial yet underutilized vegetables for detox. Bitters, as they are called, really increase bile flow, which mobilizes toxins, and liver function.”

4. Fermented foods. Fermented foods are John’s top choice for supporting digestion and detoxification. “Microbes in the GI are actually our greatest detoxification organ—the liver is a minor player in comparison,” he says. “If you have the right armies of microbes, they can detoxify many harmful compounds that will never need to reach the liver. Eating kimchi or sauerkraut, adding yogurt or kefir to your day—these may be the best return you can get in terms of supporting nutritional health and detox.”

5. Turn up the heat! Spices have long been proven to assist in digestion and detoxification. In particular, turmeric and ginger are nutritional powerhouses. Try “fire cider” (apple cider vinegar with horseradish, garlic, onion, and spices), lemon juice with olive oil and cayenne, and turmeric-ginger-lemon shots. “Adding a little heat can ease acid reflux and boost overall energy,” says Annie. “This is particularly supportive for a winter detox.” To help the body absorb turmeric, heat it in a high-fat medium, such as coconut oil or full-fat milk, and simmer it for a minute or two. This is easier for the body to assimilate than adding powdered or fresh turmeric to drinks or salads.

Winter is a great time to look at your rituals around nutrition and self-care. Annie asks, “What is your morning like? Can you take a little extra time for a brief meditation as part of your detox day? Can you take a bit more time for meals, and eat in a calm and positive environment? These habits support a healthy body.” Take time to eat with intention and self-love. Your body will thank you!

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