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If overindulgence in treats and too much eating out has left you feeling bloated and tired, it might be time to consider a dietary detox boost. The liver is always working to make our bad decisions not so bad for our bodies, and as a thank-you, we can bulk up on the foods that bathe the liver in the nutrients it needs to do its best work.
Each of the meals below provides the calories, amino acids, clean fats, antioxidants and fiber needed to turn toxins into harmless waste products and transport them out of the body. Make sure to choose organic produce and meat for these meals to reduce exposure to toxins and acquire maximal nutrients. In addition to the foods you should eat, there are some foods to avoid. Processed foods, especially those with processed fats, flours and sugars will strain the liver and should be avoided. Finally, any foods that you may be sensitive to should be strictly avoided.
Drink at least 12 ounces of hot or cold lemon water (soak 1 sliced lemon in 32 ounces of water overnight). Add 1 teaspoon olive oil if you find your bowels are sluggish and you are not eliminating at least one time each day.
Break your night-long fast and get detoxification off to a good start by combining high sulfur veggies like onions, garlic and leeks with cruciferous veggies like cabbage, kale, and broccoli to support production of liver detoxification enzymes. Make sure to include a source of quality protein like pasture-raised eggs or nuts and seeds as a source of amino acids essential for detoxification. Finally, emphasize fiber-rich foods, which are a must for supporting detoxification.
This recipe for Red Flannel Hash from The Kitchn.com includes a great mix of liver supportive veggies (onion, garlic, beet, and cabbage) topped with pasture-raised eggs for protein!
The healthy fats, protein and fiber in chia seeds make our Strawberry Chia Seed Pudding a comforting detox breakfast base. Switch out the strawberries for raspberries or blackberries for an extra fiber punch, and top with sliced almonds for additional protein. Pair with our Very Veggie Smoothie for a savory veggie boost.
Between breakfast and lunch, drink at least 32 ounces of fluid. If straight up water doesn’t do it for your taste buds, try fruit-infused water, green tea, dandelion root tea, or an herbal tea of your choice. Avoid any drinks with added sweetener and higher levels of caffeine, such as coffee.
Veggies are again the main focus for any detox lunch. Try including beets to support regularity, artichoke for its liver and gallbladder stimulation, and asparagus as a liver protector. Quality proteins such as wild-caught fish and organic chicken are also essential for a balanced plate that your liver will love. And don’t forget to include healthy fats and a vegetable source of complex carbohydrates to ensure you have the energy to work all those toxins out of your system.
The healthy monounsaturated and omega-3 fats in this meal can replace the toxic fats from too many fried and processed foods, giving your cells a much needed oil change. Fill half an avocado with this recipe for lemon artichoke salmon salad. Pair with our seaweed salad for an extra boost of detox-supportive veggies.
This salad is simply loaded with detox-supportive veggies, amino acids and fats. When topped with our lemony dill seed salad dressing, this salad will fill you up and give your liver what it needs to clean out the toxins.
Drink additional fluids between lunch and dinner, at least another 64 ounces. Make sure to avoid all caffeine-containing beverages after lunch to help you get a peaceful night’s rest.
If your appetite seems to increase during this detox, it may just be that your body is craving more of the nutritious foods you have been eating. Try one of the following ideas to nourish your body while supporting the work your liver is doing.
End the day with even more veggies, emphasizing those that provide special support for detoxification as mentioned in the breakfast and lunch sections above. This is also a great time to get in some complex carbohydrates to support restful sleep and healthy mood.
Rice bowls are both comforting and delicious, and when you pack them full of veggies, they can make a fabulous detox-supportive dinner. This California style chicken rice bowl from Half Baked Harvest.com is a great starter recipe. Add broccoli sprouts and grilled onions to boost the detox-supportive veggies, substitute brown rice for the white rice for more fiber, and leave off the blue cheese to increase the detox support potential.
Zucchini “noodles” (zoodles) help to pack veggies into this dinner from The Glowing Fridge.com, while the ginger and lime in the dressing can get your detox engines burning. Add in some protein and complex carbohydrates with our black bean and quinoa skillet to keep this meal vegetarian friendly. Alternatively, add grilled fish, grass-fed beef, or organic chicken to complete your detox dinner plate.
A detox is a great time to lay off the sugary after-dinner treats. Instead, try drinking a cup of detox tea, or some more warm lemon water. Ideally aim to drink about 1 gallon of fluids each day of your detox.
The liver has been shown to produce more antioxidants at night, specifically between 10pm and 2am. This indicates that the liver ramps up detoxification while we are getting our nightly zzs. To make the most of these daily rhythms, make sure you get to bed by 9pm. If you need extra help getting your body prepared to sleep, try a warm detox bath with Epsom salts, baking soda, and a detox-promoting essential oil such as geranium.
With the right foods you can support your liver in making our toxic world a little easier on the body. The ideas above can also help you reboot healthy eating patterns, and help moderate food cravings. Hopefully these tasty and nutritious meals can inspire you to eat the foods that provide some TLC to your liver.
What foods do you emphasize when detoxing? Do you have any tips or tricks you use to support your liver? Please share your experience and your favorite detox meal ideas in the comments section below.
To learn more about detoxification, stay tuned for next week’s post that will dispel some of the myths of cleansing.
Lani Jacobs-Banner has her bachelor’s degree in Nutrition and Dietetics. She has been working for Natural Grocers for over a decade, helping individuals and families find the foods that nourish them and help them work toward their health goals. Lani is passionate about providing her family with the highest quality, and most delicious, gluten-free meals that her husband and two boys will enjoy. Through sharing her love of cooking and nutrition, she hopes to inspire you to use food to support your health!
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