(Originally posted on bcotoronto.com on Nov 8th, 2012)
It’s now been a week since Halloween. The pumpkins have rotted. The costumes are packed away. But there maybe something still left over from that magical night…Candy! Many kids (and many of us adults) find ways of rationing out the candy to last as long as possible, while others go through their stash quickly. Whatever the case is, blood sugar levels have been peaking and diving enough to make any roller-coaster jealous. While playing havoc with our insulin levels (increasing the risk of diabetes) this is also causing inflammation throughout our bodies. So what are we going to do about this situation? Should we just wait and eat healthy for a month to undo the damage we have done in one week? That seems a bit silly so let’s talk about something else we can do; Detoxification.
There are lots of “Detox” or products out there, some of which are good and some are scams but that’s not what I want to focus on this week. I want to delve into foods that naturally boost your metabolism to help clean out your body. You don’t have to eat a special diet or drink a special powered shake. Eat what you normally would (and if you’ve been paying attention to this blog for a while you will have a good diet anyways) and make sure these foods, in their natural form not a processed one, are in abundance. We can also add to this foods that are high in antioxidants do reduce and regulate inflammation from our lifestyle and diet (and of course recover from Halloween).
Detoxification is all about cleansing and what is more cleansing than water? Drinking copious amounts of water (8-10 cups a day) will help to push blood through the filtration of the kidneys and facilitate the removal of toxins from the body. This cleaner system will have a much higher potential for functioning. Water is the substrate in which all reactions happen throughout the body. The more you have the easier these reactions can occur. This, of course, maxes out at a certain point but everything beyond that still helps to filter the blood and lubricate the intestines.
The foods we want to detoxify the body are clean, unprocessed foods with only beneficial components. So I’m sorry to say this takes out both chocolate and wine despite their antioxidants.
This little garnish is often ignored in our diets but it packs quite a punch when you look at it. It is brimming with enzymes that help clean-up and stimulate the body in many different ways. It’s also overflowing with vitamins. In fact, it has 133% of our daily vitamin C requirement and 101% of our vitamin A (per 60g serving) both of which are very strong anti-oxidants. High levels of vitamin B and multiple minerals also stimulate cellular and more specifically liver metabolism cleaning the cellular environment as well as the blood. Parsley also has a high fibre content which helps to trap toxins in the intestines and prevent absorption.
Lemon is a food traditionally associated with cleansing and rightly so. Its massive doses of vitamin C along with being a good source of B vitamins and minerals stimulate the metabolism and fight free radicals. It is also a decent source of fibre too. All of these nutrients are heat stable so the benefits of lemon do not need to be eaten. A lemon tea, made from real lemons not a processed tea bag, will help just as much (of course this would limit the fibre intake).
This tough little root is not only full of flavour, but it has tonnes of minerals too stimulate metabolism too. Not only this, the health benefits of ginger have been piling up over the last decade as more and more research uncovers the amazing talents of ginger. It is chock full of enzymes that are anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, metabolic stimulators, and many many more. Ginger is an essential part of any detoxification.
Turmeric is a spice, most commonly associated with curries, that has many secrets. Like ginger it is full of enzymes that have powered effects throughout the body. They are anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anti-arthritis, and multiple other effects. Turmeric also has a good helping of minerals which stimulate metabolism.
Coconut is a great food that is really underutilized in most Western kitchens. It has great medium chain fatty acids which are heart healthy as well as vitamins and minerals to stimulate the metabolism. A health craze started a few years ago with Coconut water. Well, it’s not wrong. Coconut water is packed with many of the nutrients and enzymes that coconut milk or meat contains help your body fight disease and keep it clean. Coconut is mildly inflammatory because it contains Omega-6 fats and no Omega-3s but this can be counteracted with the other foods on this list.
There are many other cleansing foods out there to choose from but these are some of the strongest (and my favourites). I suggest taking the next week and eliminating the obviously bad and processed foods and pack our diets full of the above foods with shakes, soups, curries, teas, and any other way you can think of including them. Try to have at least one meal a day where these ingredients (as many or as few as you want) feature prominently. This will help us recover from the Halloween binge and get us functioning in prime form, ready to face to coming cold and dark months.
The internet is full of great recipes if you feel you need help working these foods into your diet. It’s always fun to try new recipes and expand your culinary horizons.
Happy detox and thanks for reading,