Updated: Jan 20, 2022
Once you’ve listened to the symptoms your body is using to communicate to you that it needs some detoxification help, it’s time to change your diet to include foods that support this process.
The goal of a clinically directed detoxification plan is to provide nutritional support for specific pathways involved in the processing and elimination of toxins. This results in the reduction of symptoms and an increased sense of overall well-being. A boost in energy, clarity of mind, reduced pain and inflammation, better sleep and even weight loss are among the top improvements.
Is Your Body’s Natural Ability to Detox Being Supported?
Although, we should be focused on eating well all year long, it is especially important to focus 2-3 times a year on a good detox program where you eliminate the foods that cause havoc on the body to allow for healing and a healthy reboot.
There are two phases of detoxification that need to be supported and both phases of detox are dependent on specific nutrients to function optimally as you see in the chart below.
Follow These Guidelines for a Successful Do-It-Yourself Detox Plan:
Generally speaking, the best thing you can do to support detox is to consume a balanced whole-food diet including lots of colorful veggies and fruits (5:1 ratio), clean lean protein, and healthy fats while ditching the sugar, refined carbohydrates and processed foods.
Choose how long you will detox for: 2 weeks or 4 weeks? Be prepared mentally and in the kitchen before you begin. When doing your detox, place a strong emphasis on clean eating — reducing food contact with plastics and eating organic, pasture-raised and wild-caught whenever possible.
Try to Avoid these significant food triggers that are known to cause inflammation:
PUFA oils (canola, grapeseed, corn, soybean, generic vegetable, cottonseed, sesame, peanut, margarine)
Additionally, a beneficial part of a detox plan is to build overall awareness of any personal food triggers outside of the ones listed above.
Supportive Nutrients and Where to Find Them:
1) Boost Your Protein! Protein is an essential nutritional cornerstone of detoxification. We cannot effectively detoxify without having the amino acids (building blocks of protein) to bind the transformed toxins in the liver to be carried out of the body. Include protein sources at every meal to support blood sugar balance and detoxification. Regular protein intake will also minimize hunger and cravings.
Therapeutic protein sources include:
Pasture-raised and grass-fed beef, buffalo, elk, lamb, venison and other wild game
Pasture-raised poultry: chicken, turkey, duck
Wild-caught / low mercury fish: anchovy, herring, mackerel, rainbow trout, salmon, sardines, caviar, scallops, cod, oyster, crab
Grass-fed bone broths
Spirulina (make sure it is organic)
Beans, lentils and hummus
Nuts, seeds and nut butters: flax seed, hemp seeds, chia, almonds, walnuts, pumpkin, tahini, sunflower, etc.
Dairy alternatives: coconut, hemp, flax, almond yogurt/milk/kefir
Clean protein powders – hemp, pea, rice, flax
2) Include Healthy Fats! They are essential for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K which are important for a healthy detox process. Omega 3s are especially important for inhibiting inflammation. Healthy fats also support the gallbladder and liver in bile production and release which support overall digestion and regularity.
Therapeutic fat sources include:
Avocado, Guacamole and avocado oil
Extra virgin olive oil and olives
Nuts, Seeds, and Nut Butters (avoid peanuts and cashews)
3) Eat an Array of Colorful Fruits and Veggies! Eating the rainbow ensures that you are consuming tons of essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants necessary for the detoxication process. This means green spinach, orange sweet potatoes, yellow bell pepper, blue blueberries, red strawberries, white onions, purple cabbage, etc. NOT a bag of skittles!
Vegetables are an important complement to protein as they provide necessary fiber for a healthy gut microbiome and regularity, but also phytonutrients for detoxification. The goal is to consume at least 8 to 10 servings every day to aid in liver detoxification and the elimination of toxins from the gut.
Therapeutic non-starchy vegetables are divided into five categories:
Brassicales (the cruciferous vegetables): provide healthy compounds to metabolize hormones in a balanced way.
Arugula, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, horseradish, radishes.
Detoxifying Leafy Greens: include a number of anti-inflammatory, bitter and therapeutic greens.
Bok choy, Swiss chard, cilantro, endive, escarole, greens: beet, collard, dandelion, kale, mustard, and turnip, parsley, radicchio.
Thiols: vegetables in the Allium family that provide nutrients like sulfur that help the liver detoxify better.
Chives, daikon radishes, garlic, leeks, onion, scallions, shallots.
Liver & Kidney Support: includes vegetables that help the liver produce healthy bile and the kidneys to excrete toxins more efficiently through the urine.
Artichokes, asparagus, beets, celery.
Other Non-Starchy Vegetables: provide fiber and foundational nutrition.
Bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, carrots, cucumbers, eggplant, fennel, fermented veggies, green beans, jicama, mushrooms, okra, peppers, sea vegetables, snap peas/snow peas, spinach, squash, zucchini, tomato, watercress.
Therapeutic fruits include:
Phytonutrient-dense fruits can be helpful for detoxification because of the antioxidant protection they offer. It’s typically better to eat fruit with a little bit of protein or healthy fat to offset any potential blood sugar spikes.
Apple, blackberries, blueberries, cherries, grapes (purple), grapefruit, mandarins, oranges, pineapple, pomegranate seeds, raspberries, rhubarb, strawberries, and tangerines all support enzymatic detoxification process.
4) Boost B Vitamins Rich Foods! Not only are they essential for detox, but they also support energy production and mood.
Liver and other organ meats
Fish and shellfish
Cruciferous veggies: broccoli, cauliflower, Bok choy, Swiss chard, arugula, spinach, kale, Brussel sprouts, cabbage.
5) Probiotic and Prebiotic Rich Foods support a healthy microbiome which in turn supports detoxification, better absorption of nutrients and regularity.
Pickles fermented in salt
Unsweetened coconut yogurt/kefir
Lacto-fermented veggies and fruits (beets, carrots, green papaya, etc.)
Prebiotics are a type of fiber that act as food for bacteria to support proliferation of our good gut bacteria. Prebiotics can be found in many high-fiber foods and are essential for supporting a healthy gut. Prebiotics foods include:
6) Boost Other Specific Nutrients with Antioxidant Properties and Detox Support:
Vitamin A - liver, fish/shellfish, ghee, sweet potato, collards, kale, spinach.
Vitamin C - bell peppers, oranges, grapefruit, kiwi, broccoli, strawberries, Brussel sprouts.
Vitamin E - salmon, sunflower seeds, almonds, avocado, olive oil, Swiss chard, trout.
Selenium - Brazil nuts (only 2-4/day), sardines, spinach, lentils.
Copper - liver, oysters, salmon, mushrooms, sunflower seeds, turkey, spinach, asparagus, avocado.
Zinc - oysters, beef, crab, pumpkin seeds, chickpeas, poultry.
Manganese - mussels, brown rice, chickpeas, spinach, squash, blueberries.
Magnesium - spinach, avocado, pumpkin seeds, dandelion greens, halibut, broccoli.
CoQ10 - organ meats, poultry, beef, olive oil, sesame seeds, pistachio nuts.
7) Include Therapeutic Herbs and Spices:
8) Remember to Hydrate! Try to drink half your weight in ounces of water daily (150 pounds = 75 ounces/day). This will support circulation and flush toxins out as well as support regularity. Fluids also include soups, smoothies, broths and bone broths as well as herbal teas:
I personally enjoy Traditional Medicinals Everyday Detox – Schisandra Berry flavor (check out the blog Healing Herbal Tea Therapy for more ideas).
9) Add Supplemental Support. This is not necessary but supporting the body's ability to carry out toxins can be helpful against certain detox symptoms (headache, fatigue, brain fog). What we recommend:
B Vitamin Complex (methylated forms like in Pure Encapsulations or Designs For Health)
Amino Detox (Designs for Health)
Detox Antiox (Designs for Health)
Detoxification Factors (Integrative Therapeutics)
Liver-G.I. Detox (Pure Encapsulations)
LVR Formula (Pure Encapsulations)
Detoxification Support Packets (Designs for Health)
14 or 21-Day VegeCleanse Detox Program (Designs for Health)
Now that you have a full list of therapeutic foods to fill your kitchen, try some of our favorite Detox support recipes:
Total Time: 40 minutes Yield: 6-8 servings
Ingredients 1 T olive oil 1 medium yellow onion, diced 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped 2 celery stalks, chopped 4 garlic cloves, minced 1-2 cups asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces 1 cup mushroom, diced (those with SIBO/Candida omit) 1 medium tomato, diced 4 cups vegetable stock (or you can use the Magic Mineral Broth recipe) 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano 1 tsp dried basil 1/2 tsp dried thyme 1 tsp sea salt 1/2 tsp black pepper 4 cups of baby spinach, stemmed and chopped 2 T fresh parsley, chopped
Instructions Heat up a large pot over med-high heat and add olive oil. Throw in onion, carrot, and celery and cook for 3-5 minutes or until onions are translucent. Add in garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add in asparagus and cook for another minute. Add tomato, mushroom, vegetable broth, and spices and give it a stir. Bring to a boil and then let simmer, uncovered over med-low heat for 25 minutes. Add in baby spinach and cook for 3-5 more minutes or until wilted. Top with fresh parsley and serve warm.
Tips: This soup will keep in the refrigerator for a week making it a quick and easy daily meal throughout your detox program. You can also freeze it for several months.
You can really make it your own with whichever vegetables you have in the refrigerator. I have added artichoke hearts, baby kale, green beans, red, yellow, and green peppers, etc.
You can add shredded chicken/turkey for extra protein as well. Always choose organic, free-range when possible. Magic Mineral Broth Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 2 to 4 hours
Ingredients – makes 6 quarts 6 unpeeled carrots, cut into thirds 2 unpeeled yellow onions, cut into chunks 1 leek, white and green parts, cut into thirds 1 bunch celery, including the heart, cut into thirds 4 unpeeled red potatoes, quartered 2 unpeeled Japanese or regular sweet potatoes, quartered 1 unpeeled garnet yam, quartered 5 unpeeled cloves garlic, halved 1/2 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley 1 (8-inch) strip of kombu* 12 black peppercorns 4 whole allspice or juniper berries 2 bay leaves 8 quarts cold, filtered water 1 teaspoon sea salt
Instructions: Rinse all of the vegetables well, including the kombu. In a 12-quart or larger stockpot, combine the carrots, onions, leek, celery, potatoes, sweet potatoes, yam, garlic, parsley, kombu, peppercorns, allspice berries, and bay leaves. Fill the pot with the water to 2 inches below the rim, cover, and bring to a boil.
Remove the lid, decrease the heat to low, and simmer, uncovered, for at least 2 hours. As the broth simmers, some of the water will evaporate; add more if the vegetables begin to peek out. Simmer until the full richness of the vegetables can be tasted.
Strain the broth through a large, coarse-mesh sieve (remember to use a heat-resistant container underneath), then add salt to taste.
Let cool to room temperature before refrigerating or freezing.
Storage: Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 5 to 7 days or in the freezer for 4 months.
Per Serving: Calories: 45; Total Fat: 0 g (0 g saturated, 0 g monounsaturated); Carbohydrates: 11 g; Protein: 1 g; Fiber: 2 g; Sodium: 140 mg
Reprinted from The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen: Nourishing, Big-Flavor Recipes for Cancer Treatment and Recovery. Copyright © 2009 by Rebecca Katz with Mat Edelson, Ten Speed Press, a division of the Crown Publishing Group, Berkeley, CA.
Makes 1 serving (about 12 ounces)
1/2 cup mixed frozen berries 1-2 tablespoon black raspberry nutritional powder (e.g., Botanic Innovations and other brands) or powdered greens (Paleo Greens by Designs for Health or Spirulina powder) 1 cup dark, leafy greens (e.g., arugula, broccoli leaves, collard greens, baby kale, baby spinach, watercress, etc.) 2-3 ounces carrot juice 4 ounces green tea 3 ounces low sodium tomato juice Water, for taste and texture
Place all ingredients into a high-powered blender or NutriBullet until desired consistency is reached.
Inflammation Control Smoothie
Makes 1 serving (about 12 ounces)
1/2 cup blackberries or black raspberries 1/2 cup citrus or tropical fruit (e.g., tangerine, orange, mandarin, papaya, mango, guava, apricot, nectarine, etc.) 1 large collard green leaf 1/2-inch knob ginger root, fresh ¼ – ½ cup baby kale or spinach 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds (or 2 ounces pomegranate juice) 1-inch knob turmeric root, fresh (or 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric) Water, for taste and texture
Place all ingredients into a high-powered blender or NutriBullet and blend until desired consistency is reached.
~~ Anytime is a good time to begin cleaning up your diet and supporting your body’s detoxification process - New Year, Spring and Fall specifically. Need extra support? Purely Rooted Nutrition and Wellness can set up a personalized detox plan for you and guide you through the process. Happy Detoxing!