Although all plant foods are beneficial and should be consumed for a healthy body, there are some that stand out above the rest. These plant foods have incredible ways of nourishing the body and detoxifying harmful chemicals and toxins. You will notice, that for the most part these foods help cleansing, heal and detoxify the liver and kidneys, which are your top channels of elimination. Include these foods whenever possible to keep your channels of elimination up and running smoothly!
Liver-friendly, kidney healing, and all around great for the whole body, leafy greens are undeniably one of the healthiest foods on the planet. They are extremely nutrient-dense, with a significant concentration of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Leafy greens are also highly alkaline and packed with heart-healthy and bowel-friendly fiber.
We all know we should eat more of them, but for many of us, all that buying, storing, washing, chopping, chewing and digesting just seems like too much. And if you’re trying to get all your greens in salads, you may quickly tire of cold leafy vegetables.
Fortunately there are TONS of ways to incorporate more greens in your diet…even if you’re not a fan of salads. Try cooking them in a scramble, pie, or pesto; incorporating them in a soup or creamy dip; roasting them to crispy perfection; or blending them in a juice or refreshing green smoothie! The salads will be there when you’re ready. (Sign up for our newsletter, and get tips and recipes on how to incorporate more greens into your diet!)
Shaped like mini trees, broccoli gives life to your body and its bright green hues indicate the high level of antioxidants and chlorophyll found in the cruciferous veggie. Broccoli is high in fiber that naturally cleanses the body from carcinogens and other toxins. Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and other members of the cruciferous veggie family also contain glucosinolates which help the liver produce enzymes to aid in the removal of toxins and aid in digestion. Broccoli is also a good source of fat-soluble Vitamin E, an especially important antioxidant for the liver.
Apples are rich in pectin, the soluble fiber that helps remove toxins and cholesterol from the blood, which helps your liver. They’re also rich in malic acid, a naturally cleansing nutrient that removes carcinogens and other toxins from the blood. Granny Smith apples are especially rich in malic acid, along with being one of the most antioxidant-rich apple varieties. All apples are great for your liver, however, but be sure to choose organic apples since they’re one of the worst sources of pesticides in conventional form.
Garlic is rich in allicin and selenium, two powerhouse nutrients for your liver. They act in cleansing and in nourishing the entire body, especially the blood. Selenium is a naturally detoxifying mineral and allicin helps ward off immune system invaders, which helps lighten the load on your liver. Garlic also activates enzymes in the liver which help with overall digestion and flushing out toxins. Use whole garlic cloves as the best option, instead of processed minced garlic or powder. Check out our White Sunflower Seed Garlic Cream Sauce which can be used pasta, rice, potatoes, and much more!
Lemons love your liver and your liver loves them right back! Lemons are a natural cleansing food and essentially one of the best to “get things going” in all areas of your body. Lemons provide a wealth of antioxidants, primarily Vitamin C, and they help your liver produce more enzymes which give you more energy and help with digestion. Lemons are also a natural replacement for salt in the diet since they’re high in electrolytes that support your body but that don’t dehydrate your cells like sodium does. In fact, they’re often recommended as a salt replacement for individuals on a liver disease diet for this reason. Lemons are also alkalizing to the body, despite being acidic on their own. Once they enter the body, they help neutralize toxins, excrete wastes, and jump start the entire digestive process. Try drinking a glass of water with the juice of one lemon every morning to help alkalize and balance your blood pH. Try to use organic lemons since you don’t want any chemicals from conventional lemon peels interfering with their benefits.
Beets and Carrots
Beets are bright and beautiful, like an insane shot of wellness for your whole body, including your liver. Their red, purplish hues may seem a bit overwhelming, but nature was smart in the way she created foods to mimic the benefits they have on the body. For example, beets look like the color of blood, and coincidentally, they naturally cleanse and purify the blood, which boosts liver function, and nutrient production in your body. Beets are also high in antioxidants and important nutrients including: folate, fiber (in the form of pectin), iron, betaine, betalains, betacyanin, and betanin. Pectin is a soluble form of fiber that’s well known for its cleansing properties and ability to keep you full. Beets’ fibers and nutrients help the body flush toxins that are often stored in our liver so they can be evacuated out of the body instead of reabsorbed into the bloodstream. Stop hating beets and start loving them for your healthy body’s sake. Try grating them into your salad, roasted with other root veggies, or even juice them along with apples and carrots for a tasty, healthy treat!
Surprisingly, it is not the banana that is the richest in potassium. It is the sweet potato. A single medium sweet potato contains nearly 700 milligrams of potassium, not to mention the high fiber and beta-carotene content. A sweet potato only has 131 calories, yet is rich with Vitamins B-6, C, D, magnesium, and iron. While naturally sweet, the sugars actually are slowly released into the bloodstream through the liver, without causing a spike in blood sugar.
Sweet potatoes (along with carrots and winter squash such as butternut and pumpkin) are all rich in beta-carotene, which is a natural anti-inflammatory nutrients your body loves! Beta carotene converts to Vitamin A in the body, directly in the liver. It’s important to get your Vitamin A through beta-carotene rich foods in place of supplements. Sweet potatoes are also rich in fiber and Vitamin C, other cleansing and immunity-boosting nutrients that help your liver function at its best. Try using sweet potatoes roasted in a hearty, plant-based dinner, or use them as a simple lunch by stuffing them with salsa and some hummus for an easy mid-day meal.
For many years, researchers believed that the ability of cranberries and cranberry juice to help prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs) was partly related to the strong acidity of the cranberries. Recent research has shown that it's not the acidity of the cranberries, but the unusual nature of their proanthocyanidins (PACs) that is related to prevention of UTIs, which acts as a barrier to bacteria that might otherwise latch on to the urinary tract lining.
This whole area of investigation has opened the door to an understanding of other possible cranberry benefits. For example, stomach ulcers are often related to overgrowth and over-linking of one particular type of stomach bacteria (Helicobacter pylori) to the stomach lining. In much the same way as cranberries may help prevent bacterial attachment to the lining of the urinary tract, they may also help prevent attachment of bacteria to the stomach lining. There is already some preliminary evidence that cranberry may help protect us from stomach ulcer in this way. We expect to see future studies confirming this fascinating type of health benefit.
This is one root whose medicinal value dates back to ancient Chinese civilizations, and one that is still believed to offer many health benefits. Often used in a tea or other drink, you can add it to the meals you make as well. It is thought to help the liver function, and has some astringent properties.
Some detox diets ask you to chew on ginger root. You may also find that adding it to hot water makes the water taste better. Basically any way you can think of it get it into your system is going to be beneficial, especially if you’re suffering from a fatty liver caused by too much alcohol, or too many toxic foods and drinks.
Try making a ginger tea:
1/4 C. Grated ginger root
1-2 T. Fennel
Pinch of Cayenne (opt.)
8 C. Water
Bring to a boil and simmer covered for 20-30 minutes. Strain and enjoy!
Naturopathic Lifestyle Educator and Wellness Coach, Sonja Upham, received medical missionary training and lifestyle education at Uchee Pines Lifestyle Center in Alabama and Hallelujah Acres in North Carolina. She moved from her position as Webmaster and class lecturer at Uchee Pines back to North Carolina where she serves as Assistant Health Ministries Director at her local church, and Co-founder of HeavenScent Wholistic Health, along with her husband Dave. Furthering her education she attended Global College of Natural Medicine, receiving her Master Herbalist and Holistic Health Practitioner certifications. She is currently working towards her doctorate in Naturopathy.