By Dr. Deanna Minich • Originally published on DeannaMinich.com
As you likely know, supporting your body’s natural detoxification is truly necessary in today’s society. Based on scientific and medical literature, everyone is toxic. Period.
Think about it. Toxins exist in every aspect of our lives, from the air we breathe, to the food we eat, even to the thoughts we think. There are an estimated 80,000 chemicals currently used in the United States. And many of us experience exposure on a daily basis.
These toxins, ranging from heavy metals to persistent organic pollutants (POPs), have drastic negative effects on our health. Animal and human studies link exposure to toxins to inflammation, oxidative damage, neurodegeneration, immune system dysfunction, and skeletal degeneration, to name just a few.
Unfortunately, avoiding all these dangerous toxins is next to impossible, as they have permeated all aspects of our lives.
Eat More Plants!
However, there is a simple way to support your body’s natural detoxification function. Eat more colorful plant foods!
You’ve likely heard the refrain to eat more fruits and vegetables from your parents, doctors, and health experts many times, and for good reason. While colorful fruits and vegetables look great arranged on a plate, there are also powerful compounds at work under the surface that have incredible health and detoxing benefits. These compounds are called phytonutrients, and besides giving foods their colors, they can also support health and detox in every part of your body.
Phytonutrients for Natural Detoxification
There are hundreds of different phytonutrients, each supporting your body’s health in a different way. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the information about different phytonutrients and their benefits. On a broad scale, simply eating a wide range of fruits and vegetables of different colors ensures that you’ll be reaping the benefits of a host of phytonutrients.
However, you can also tailor your phytonutrient intake to address specific issues or functions. To get you started on your journey into the colorful world of phytonutrients, here are five classes of phytonutrients that are renowned specifically for their natural detoxing abilities.
These compounds are in a spectrum of different foods, including cilantro, parsley, onions, apples, oranges, and blueberries. In terms of detoxing power, these antioxidants bind to heavy metals in the body, and aid in their removal from the body through urine. They also fight harmful inflammation in the body caused by toxic overload. To maximize your flavonoid intake, try to eat your fruits and vegetables raw or lightly steamed as much as possible. Overcooking or processing flavonoid-rich foods drastically reduces the bioavailability of the compounds. Just make sure that the vegetables don’t lose any of their rich colors while steaming.
2. Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG):
This phytonutrient has a list of detox benefits almost as long as its name! EGCG triggers increased production of certain genes and enzymes responsible for POP detoxification, helping the body’s natural systems to clear the body of these dangerous toxins more efficiently. The compound is also a powerful antioxidant and boasts anti-inflammatory activities.The richest source of EGCG is green tea. The amount of ECGC varies greatly depending on the brand of tea, but a high-quality tea like Teavana Green Tea has around 83 milligrams of ECGC per teaspoon. To get the most out of your tea, steep your green tea at least 5 minutes to allow for maximum EGCG concentration.
Quercetin comes from many sources, including citrus fruits, apples, onions, parsley, nuts, tea, and dark berries like blueberries, blackberries, and bilberries. Similar to the other phytonutrients on this list, it is a powerful anti-inflammatory compound and antioxidant that binds to heavy metals to facilitate their removal from the body. Like EGCG, it also boosts the enzymes responsible for POP detoxification.This compound, in particular, generally concentrates in the skin of fruits and vegetables. When relevant, try to include as much of plant’s outer layer in your cooking as you can. Only remove the outer paper-y skin from onions, don’t peel your organic apples (but do wash very well!), and add some citrus zest (shredded bits of the peel) to dishes.
Curcumin, the active compound in turmeric, is one of the most powerful spices for your health. It’s referred to as a health superstar, thanks to over 50 healing actions. Looking specifically at detoxing functions, curcumin is an antioxidant that binds to heavy metals in the body, fights inflammation from toxins, and increases the production of enzymes responsible for POP detoxification. It’s also said to have cancer preventative activities in human studies. You can incorporate turmeric into your meals in a myriad of ways. Make a vegetable curry using curry powder and coconut milk or sprinkle turmeric in your salad dressing or on stir-fries.
5. Organosulfur compounds:
Foods containing organosulfur compounds (or, more simply, sulfur) have a pungent aroma and slightly bitter taste. Onion, garlic, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, turnips, and bok choy are all rich sources of organosulfur compounds. These antioxidant-rich phytonutrients reduce inflammation. And they bind to and aid in the excretion of heavy metals, boosting the production of POP-detoxifying enzymes. Like curcumin, they also defend the body against cancer-causing agents. Uniquely, they also protect the liver and reproductive system from toxic invaders. Garlic is one of the richest sources of organosulfur compounds. Dicing or smashing garlic is the best way to release these compounds. However, it’s important to let the garlic sit for ten minutes after slicing and before cooking, as heat may inactive the healthy organosulfur compounds.
Incorporating these phytonutrients into your diet is a great way to support your body’s natural detoxification systems and to help you live clean in an unclean world.
From Ocean Robbins, Food Revolution Network CEO:
Note: If you’re looking for a curcumin supplement to assist with natural detoxification, here’s my favorite. PuraTHRIVE has developed an outstanding product using a cutting-edge micelle liposomal formulation that increases bioavailability by up to 185 times. Their formula also contains ginger oil, vegan DHA fatty acids from algae, and beneficial phospholipids. The product is 100% vegan, organic, soy-free, and non-GMO. If you use our link, they’ll contribute a portion of the proceeds to the work of the Food Revolution Network. Click here to find out more.
Important Note About Lead in Turmeric:
Investigators believe that in some countries, turmeric may be intentionally contaminated with lead to enhance its weight, color, or both. Lead-contaminated turmeric in India and Bangladesh is a problem. And it may be a concern in the United States, as well.
The FDA has not set maximum permissible levels of lead in spices. As a result, the agency does not regulate lead levels in turmeric. If you want to protect yourself and your family from possible lead contamination, the best option is to buy fresh turmeric root. Or buy organic turmeric and curcumin products. You can also contact manufacturers to ask if they test for lead and other metals.
We asked PuraTHRIVE about their products and lead, and they told us they run ICPMS (the highest standard for heavy metal testing) on every batch of Curcumin Gold. They test internally and also hire a third party for independent verification. The test results show there is no lead in their products. They report that they are also fully compliant with California’s Prop 65. See more about Curcumin Gold here.
Featured Image: iStock.com/SerAlexVi