Want to baby your liver? Keep your GI tract fit? Flush out toxins? These 10 foods -- many of them chosen by RealAge experts Drs. Oz and Roizen -- can spring clean your body and keep refreshing your vital parts all year 'round. No need to fast. Just take these three steps:
- "Eat clean," avoiding processed foods and chemical additives.
- Stay well hydrated by drinking lots of filtered water.
- Include some of these 10 foods in several meals throughout the week.
The Detox Top 10
- Leafy green vegetables. Eat them raw in a salad, throw them into a broth, steam them and mix with rice or add to an omelet, or puree them into juices. The chlorophyll in greens helps swab out environmental toxins (heavy metals, pesticides). It's also an all-around liver protector, which your liver needs since it's your major domo detoxifier.
- Lemons. Fresh lemonade made with filtered water will keep you hydrated, and its vitamin C helps convert toxins into a water-soluble form that's easily flushed away. (Add some pureed greens -- see above -- to further bolster your C level.) Here's another cleanse that really works.
- Watercress. Put a handful into salads, soups, and sandwiches. The peppery little green leaves have a diuretic effect that helps the flushing process. Plus cress is a mineral mine, rich in iron, calcium, phosphorus, and potassium.
- Garlic. Add it to everything -- salads, sauces, spreads. In addition to the heart-friendly bulb's cardio benefits, it activates liver enzymes. Research also indicates that garlic diminishes a process that creates cancer-causing compounds in your body.
- Green tea. This antioxidant-rich brew is one of the healthiest ways to get more water into your system. Bonus: It contains catechins, which speed up liver activity. Learn more about how to love your liver.
- Broccoli sprouts. They pack 20 times more cancer-fighting, enzyme-stimulating activity into each bite than the grown-up vegetable. Research suggests that eating the sprouts (they have a radish-like taste) kills off H. Pylori bacteria that causes stomach irritation and ulcers.
- Sesame seeds. They're credited with protecting liver cells from the damaging effects of alcohol and other chemicals. For a concentrated form, try tahini, the yummy sesame seed paste that's a staple of Middle Eastern cooking.
- Cabbage. There are two main types of detoxifying enzymes in the liver, and this potent veggie helps activate both of them. It's the largest member of the Brassica veggie family, all of which delivers colon-cancer fighting isothicyanates and vitamin C. Coleslaw, anyone?
- Psyllium. This plant's bursting with soluble fiber, which mops up toxins (cholesterol, too) and helps clear them out. Stir powdered psyllium into juice to help cleanse your colon, or have psyllium-fortified Bran Buds for breakfast. (Start with a small amount and gradually increase your dose as your GI tract becomes used to it.)
- Fruits, fruits, fruits. They're full of almost all the good things listed above -- vitamin C, fiber, nutritious fluids, and assorted antioxidants. Besides, nothing tastes better than a ripe mango, perfect pear, or fresh berries.
Ultimate Detox Recipe: Easy Wilted Garlic-Sesame Salad
Toss dark green leafy vegetables in hot, garlicky oil for a cleansing -- and delicious -- dish.
4 servings, about 65 calories each
1 tsp. olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 lb. spinach, stemmed,
or 1 lb. Swiss chard, stems sliced, leaves torn
or 1 lb. mixture of spinach and watercress
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 tsp. sesame seeds for garnish
Warm oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and stir until lightly browned, about 45 seconds. Add greens (do in two batches if necessary) and toss until just wilted, 2 to 4 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Find more healthy recipes with the RealAge Recipe Finder.