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A well-planned juice fast or cleanse can reset your system and give you a chance to break bad habits. But what happens after you finish the cleanse? A better way: avoid toxins on a daily basis, support your body with cleansing nutrients, and revamp your toxic lifestyle routines. Detox round-the-clock, with these three key areas:
The Detox Diet: What to Eat
Eliminate processed foods and anything with preservatives, artificial ingredients, or trans fats. Avoid inflammation triggers such as sugar, dairy, and gluten, and minimize grains—especially refined grains. Instead, stick to whole, plant-based foods rich in antioxidants, fiber, and other nutrients.
Clean up your smoothie
Focus on leafy greens and include beets, berries, or carrots for sweetness. Ground flaxseed or chia seeds add extra fiber and protein, and a little plain yogurt or unsweetened coconut kefir provide gut-supportive probiotics.
Focus on fiber
Fiber encourages regular bowel movements and speeds the elimination of toxins from the body. Good fiber foods include broccoli, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, rutabagas, and raspberries.
Amp up your veggies
Crucifers, garlic, and onions are high in compounds that help remove toxins and protect against cancer. Brightly colored red, orange, yellow, and green veggies are rich in protective phytochemicals. Compounds in artichokes protect the liver. And asparagus promotes urine flow and reduces water retention.
Eat more raw
Cooking diminishes enzymes and nutrients that support digestion and enhance detox. Make one meal a day a big salad with bitter greens such as watercress, endive, chicory, or dandelion greens to stimulate liver and digestive function.
Include fermented foods
Kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt, and miso are rich in probiotics that improve digestion and ensure regular bowel movements. And they’re better than probiotic supplements. Fermented foods contain a wider variety of strains, and some research suggests that probiotics survive better when they’re eaten in food.
Emphasize clean proteins
Protein escorts toxins through the body for elimination, and the amino acids in protein are required to produce glutathione, which plays a critical role in detox. Focus on organic free-range chicken and turkey and wild-caught salmon, cod, or halibut. Beans and lentils are also great sources of protein, with the added benefit of fiber.
The Detox Diet: What to Drink
Steer clear of sugary drinks (including fruit juice), cut the caffeine and alcohol, and emphasize clear water and cleansing beverages. Some tips:
Rethink your morning drink
Green tea is a concentrated source of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a powerful antioxidant that reduces inflammation and protects cells from damage.
Try green juice
Fruit juice is loaded with sugar—as much as 24 grams in a cup—and the juicing process removes beneficial fiber. Green juices made from spinach, kale, collards, and other vegetables are a better choice.
Drink plenty of clean, filtered water to speed the removal of wastes from the body and support kidney detox. If you find yourself forgetting to drink, download an app such as Hydro Coach or WaterMinder to keep you on track.
The Detox Diet: Change Your Lifestyle
The detox diet is about more than just…um…diet. Because how you live has a profound effect on the body’s ability to detoxify its systems.
Let Go of Stress
Meditate, practice deep breathing, or take a siesta—even a 15-minute nap can lessen stress.
Go to bed earlier
Deep, restful slumber is crucial for supporting the body’s detox organs. And hitting the hay soon after the sun goes down normalizes circadian rhythms and encourages more restful sleep.
Move your body
Exercise boosts circulation, relieves stress, stimulates movement of lymph fluid, and burns fat, the primary storehouse for toxins. Plus, sweating escorts toxins from the body through the skin, the body’s largest detox organ. Aim for at least half an hour a day of physical movement. Or try yoga. It relieves stress and promotes calm, and twisting and bending the torso enhances circulation to the liver and digestive system.
Toss the toxins
Conventional household cleaners, soaps, sprays, fabric softeners, air fresheners, lotions, and fragrances may be filled with toxins—not what you need during a cleanse. Toss any toxic cleaning or personal care products, and restock with natural, plant-based alternatives that are free from chemical fragrances or scented with pure essential oils.
Detox Diet: Supplemental Support
Synthetic vitamins and supplements burden the liver and detox organs. But a few carefully chosen herbs can support optimal function, remove toxins, and help repair damage. Choose the simplest, least-processed forms—ideally, traditional, organic herbs that improve liver, kidney, and gut health. Some of the best:
Milk thistle. This relative of the daisy and ragweed family contains silymarin, an antioxidant that protects the liver from toxins, encourages the removal of metabolic waste, and repairs and heals damage.
Dandelion root, traditionally used for liver and kidney detox, contains compounds that promote urine flow, increase bile production, speed the removal of toxins, and protect the liver from damage.
Uva ursi (bearberry) acts as a gentle diuretic, promoting urine flow and supporting the kidneys and bladder. It also contains anti-inflammatory compounds that protect the lining of the urinary tract and help reduce urinary tract infections.
Burdock root, used in Asian cuisine and traditional Chinese medicine, has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial activities. It works as a gentle diuretic that can remove toxins from the urinary tract and protect the liver from damage. As a bonus, it can also help clear up skin issues.
Chanca piedra, a shrub-like herb from the Amazonian rainforest, has anti-inflammatory and diuretic actions. It can increase urine flow, encourage the elimination of toxins, and protect the liver from damage.
Ashwagandha, an adaptogenic herb used in Ayurvedic medicine, reduces inflammation, balances blood sugar, and supports the body’s natural systems to relieve stress and promote restful sleep.