Let me explain a little more so you can understand exactly how real foods can cleanse your body and set you up for success.
My idea of a “cleanse” might be a little different than what most people think. I am not a fan of the traditional liquid cleanses you always hear about, but rather I am a true believer in cleansing with real food. Not only is it safer and more delicious, but real, clean foods will offer a whole mix of nutrients that will work together in the body to keep you nourished. A real food cleanse is a great way to jumpstart weight loss and good behaviors. You’ll establish healthy habits by eating the right foods consistently throughout the day and you’ll be able to build on that foundation.
True cleansing foods are full of fiber, antioxidants, and other nutrients that will help to free your body of impurities and maintain liver health (your liver is your main detoxifying organ, so it pays to keep it healthy). Cleansing foods also tend to be lower in calories and free of sugar, added sodium, alcohol, chemicals and all other unwanted ingredients. Weight loss is another result of a cleanse, which is always good to give you a little mental boost to keep you plugging away with that new Nutritious Life.
Here are some of my favorite cleansing foods that will make your body feel fresh, healthy, and pure:
Artichokes are my go-to cleansing food. First of all, they contain plant compounds known as caffeoylquinic acids, which increase flow of bile, a fluid that helps digest fats. Artichokes can also be used to treat indigestion. One study showed that patients with indigestion who received artichoke leaf extract had improvement in symptoms and overall quality of life. In addition, they’re full of fiber and take a long time to eat, so they help reinforce the practice of slow, mindful eating.
Avocados are a source of glutathione, a compound that blocks the absorption of certain fats in the intestines that can cause oxidative damage. Glutathione is also essential for liver cleansing. Plus, avocados contain magnesium, which has also been shown to inhibit fat absorption and can treat hyperlipidemia (high levels of fat in the blood).
Beets contain betaine, a substance that promotes regeneration of liver cells and the flow of bile. Beets also have beneficial effects on fat metabolism. Betaine is a lipotrope—something that prevents or reduces accumulation of fat in the liver. It works by inhibiting an enzyme involved in lipogenesis (fat production). Research shows a highly signiﬁcant negative association between markers of obesity (BMI, percent body fat and waist circumference) and betaine concentrations in the blood, meaning the higher the betaine, the lower the BMI. Betaine can also relieve oxidative stress and is essential for detoxification.
Broccoli supports detoxification enzymes in the liver (cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and kale do as well). This unique group of vegetables (called crucifers) have glucosinolates, which are kinds of amino acids that contain sulfur. Sulforaphane is one type of glucosinolate in broccoli that plays a role in cancer prevention – it helps specific detoxification enzymes that rid the body of chemical carcinogens and free radicals. This is especially helpful for minimizing free radical damage in the lungs – you can breathe easy about that!
Celery is a vegetable that is mostly comprised of water and therefore will help keep your body hydrated and your hunger levels at rest. Additionally, celery is an antioxidant that will help eliminate those “bad boys” (free radicals) roaming around inside your body causing damage. Celery also contains a flavanoid called luteolin. Researchers believe that this particular flavonoid may possess anti-cancer properties.
Dandelion root increases flow of bile, making digestion a speedier and more efficient process. It’s also known to have diuretic properties that help you rid excess fluid in your body, which helps to flush you out and decrease bloat. Dandelion root is also chock full of vitamins A and C (powerful antioxidants), and is thought to help detoxify the liver. It has been used in different cultures to treat all sorts of problems including kidney disease, swelling, skin problems, heartburn, upset stomach, fever, boils, eye problems, diabetes, and diarrhea.
Dill, fennel, and anise all help with digestion by speeding up the digestive system and increasing the secretion of gastric acids, which are chemicals that break down food.
Greens (such as kale, collards, spinach, and romaine) can increase binding of bile acids, a process that makes it easier for the body to get rid of them, because of the phytonutrients found in them. Bile acids are made from cholesterol in the liver and can increase the risk of colorectal cancer. The binding, and thus increased elimination, of bile acids is also thought to be the way that dietary fiber lowers cholesterol.
Green tea is rich in antioxidants – even richer than white, black, and oolong teas even though they all come from the same plant. That’s because green tea leaves are prepared differently; they aren’t fermented before they’re dried which keeps them rich in antioxidants called catechins. Catechins may trigger weight loss by stimulating the body to burn more calories and by decreasing body fat. Also, hot tea is sipped slowly, which reinforces mindful eating habits.
Lemon helps the liver detoxify, and lemon juice can also aid in digestion. Both the smell and flavor can increase saliva production – one study showed this can happen just by looking at lemons – which is essential to the digestion process. Lemon juice also directly affects the GI tract. Just 100 microliters of lemon juice (that’s REALLY tiny) has been shown to be a very potent stimulant of pancreatic juices, also essential for proper digestion.
Milk thistle is a flowering herb that assists in liver cell regeneration. It works by increasing amounts of ribosomal RNA (genetic material) in the liver which increases protein synthesis to make liver cells. Because of this, milk thistle is often used to treat patients with liver disease.
Onion and garlic are both rich in sulfur containing compounds, which are involved in sulfation, the main route for toxins to be cleared from the body. Garlic and onions are both part of the Allium genus and can help protect us against certain cancers including stomach and colorectal cancer. In lab studies, the antioxidants (including allicin, allixin, allyl sulfides, quercetin, and a large group of organosulfur compounds) in garlic and onions have been shown to slow or stop the growth of tumors in prostate, bladder, colon, and stomach tissue.
Oregano is the most antioxidant-dense spice on the market. In fact, on a per-gram basis, it has four times more antioxidant activity than blueberries do. One of the antioxidants in oregano includes beta-caryophyllene, a substance that reduces inflammation.
Organic and pasture-raised chicken is a lean protein source grown without synthetic pesticides or fertilizers, antibiotics or hormones. Recent studies have concluded that organic and pasture-raised chicken may act as an anti-inflammatory agent by increasing the omega-3 content of the triglycerides circulating in your blood. Chicken is a great source of B vitamins as well, aiding in a broad list of bodily functions including the production of serotonin (the “feel good” hormone) and cell metabolism.
Wheat grass purifies the liver. It’s rich in choline, a mineral that has been shown to prevent fat buildup in the liver. Once choline enters the cells, it’s converted into a different compound that can enhance the breakdown of fatty acids and formation of phospholipids. This ultimately helps transport fatty acids in the blood and remove fats from the liver. Wheatgrass juice also contains bioflavonoids like apigenin, quercetin and luteolin, which all act as antioxidants in the body, and indole compounds, which play a role in cancer prevention.
The 4-Day Slim Down Cleanse
For the next 4 days, I want you to follow this menu as closely as possible. I know eating the same thing every day may seem a little boring, but it’s only for 4 days and it will make a dramatic difference. As you’ll see, there’s nothing too extreme or restrictive here. You will be eating real food — enough of it — consistently throughout the day. Most importantly, you’re taking a big first step towards your slim down.
● Scrambled eggs (1 whole egg plus 3 egg whites) with 1 teaspoon oregano
● 1 cup water with 1 ounce lemon juice and ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
● 1 Granny Smith apple with ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
● 1 cup green tea
● Spinach salad with ½ cup beans (black, kidney, or chickpeas) or 4 ounces white fish or chicken breast, grilled or baked
● ¼ avocado, sliced
● 1 ounce lemon juice and/or vinegar
● 1 cup water with 1 ounce lemon juice and ¼ teaspoon cayenne
● Steamed artichoke or 1 cup artichoke hearts
● 1 cup green tea
● Romaine salad with ½ cup red peppers, ½ cup cucumbers, ¼ cup celery
● 1 fennel bulb, roasted (can substitute 1 cup asparagus)
● 4 ounces salmon, grilled or baked (or alternative lean protein)
● 1 cup blueberries
● 1 cup dandelion root tea
The Slim Down Grocery List
I don’t want you to guess what you need to buy. Instead, I’m going to share with you the exact quantity you need to stock your fridge and cupboards, and eat your way to a better body!
● 16 eggs (or 4 eggs and 12 egg whites)
● 4 Granny Smith apples
● 4 cups blueberries
● 8 lemons
● 1 16 ounce can beans*
● 16 ounces white fish or chicken*
● 16 ounces salmon
● 4 artichokes or 2 16 ounce cans artichoke hearts
● 1 avocado
● Romaine lettuce
● 2 red bell peppers
● 2 cucumbers
● 6 stalks celery
● 4 bulbs fennel or 2 pounds asparagus
● Oregano, dried
● Cayenne, dried
● Cinnamon, ground
● Green tea
● Dandelion root tea
*You do not need beans and chicken and white fish. Decide your protein ahead of time, and buy 16 total ounces.