How are you feeling? For me, that is a loaded question, and really depends on the day, or let's be real, the hour. As I head into 2021, my body is ready for a good "reset" – mentally, physically, spiritually, emotionally, and nutritionally.
The extra sugar, refined carbs, alcohol, and lack of color in the diet will have anyone feeling sluggish and bloated. The purpose of resetting is to promote whole-body health by uplifting your liver’s ability to clear toxins from the body. Resetting also involves feeding your microbiome well. By doing this, you will notice a difference in your energy levels, alertness, digestive health, skin health and so much more.
Choose a Lifestyle, Not a Diet
Here’s my dietitian insight: Don’t get caught in a gimmicky 3-day cleanse or other fad situation. A simple “reset” is a great way to kick start a year of taking care of your body, but treat it like a lifestyle and not a diet. Choose the things that speak to you and which you know you are able to implement longer than a week venture.
With the amount of chemicals, preservatives, and “garbage” in today’s environment and food supply, detoxifying in the form of supporting the health of your liver and microbiome deserves your attention everyday.
8 Simple Ideas for Beginning Your New Year Health Reset
1) Stop the Toxic Overload
First thing's first, stop the toxic overload. There are certain foods that interfere with the liver's ability to detoxify your body. These are also the same foods and beverages most commonly associated with creating fatigue, weakness, inflamed joints and muscles, poor digestion, headaches, weight loss resistance, high blood pressure and cholesterol, and generally poor health.
I recommend assessing your pantry and freezer to rid your kitchen of foods or beverages that might tempt you during your detox diet. I call them "trigger foods." Getting rid of their temptation is a behavior modification that works really well when you are "resetting."
Put a lot of attention into minimizing these specific ingredients in your diet:
- refined flour (such as crackers, white pasta, most boxed snack foods)
- artificial sweeteners (such as aspartame)
- artificial colors
- trans fats (aka: hydrogenated fat)
- processed soy
Whenever possible, I strongly urge you to choose organic foods to minimize your intake of hormones, antibiotics, herbicides, and pesticides that were never intended to be in YOUR body and certainly do not do anything other than compromise how good you can look and feel!
2) Choose Foods to Support Healthy Digestion and Natural Detoxification
The first phase of liver detoxification is the conversion of toxins into water-soluble compounds; the second phase is the addition of a chemical group, such as a sulfur-containing compound, to assist in their release from the body. The last step is the elimination phase to purge the body of the toxins it has worked so hard to detoxify. Here is more information about the three phases involved in the liver's detoxification process. All three phases need proper nutrition support or the detox process will become sluggish or, even worse, come to a halt.
- Leafy greens (especially dandelion greens)
- Cruciferous veggies (cauliflower, brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage)
- Broccoli sprouts
- Citrus fruit
- Healthy proteins, which are vital for supporting the immune system and the health of liver cells
- High-fiber foods because they bind toxins in the gut
- Olive oil because it helps thin the bile your liver makes
3) Water, Water, Water
Flush Your Kidneys
Your body needs plenty of water to stay hydrated and flush out toxins during your diet. Support those kidneys!! Drink at least eight, eight-ounce glasses of filtered water daily. You’ll know you are hydrated when your urine is a clear to pale yellow color. It doesn’t hurt to mention, drink water from a stainless steel or glass container. Plastic contains many of the toxins you’re trying to eliminate!
Sweat it Out
Skin is the body’s largest organ. Not only is it the body’s primary shield to contaminants in the environment, but it is also a major elimination pathway for impurities. The simple act of sweating helps your body flush out unwanted waste products. Vigorous exercise, jumping on a rebounder, and taking a dry sauna or hot steam are all great ways to get a healthy sweat and flush impurities from your body.
4) Incorporate Green Tea
Green tea is full of plant antioxidants known as catechins, a compound known to assist liver function. Consider sipping on green tea in the morning or as a between meal pick-me-up. I also like matcha green tea, which is like supped up green tea.
5) Eat Glutathione-Rich Roughage
Glutathione is the body’s master detoxifier and crucial to your body's overall function. Concentrated in the liver, no other nutrient works harder to detoxify your body, particularly for heavy metals like mercury, aluminum, and cadmium. It also helps the body process and eliminates other toxins such as those found in plastics and conventional body products. Toxins stick onto glutathione, which then carries them into the bile and the stool – and out of your body.
Your body produces its own glutathione, but stress and toxic burden rapidly deplete it. Supplementation can be crucial to effectively resolve these challenges. I like liposomal glutathione and NAC (N-acetyl-cysteine), which is essential for making and replenishing the powerful antioxidant glutathione. To eat more glutathione, include carrots, beets, tomatoes, grapefruit, and spinach.
Glutathione Needs Riboflavin
Riboflavin (vitamin B2) is necessary to regenerate decaying, dysfunctional glutathione back into whole, functional glutathione. If you don't consume enough foods rich in riboflavin, your supply of glutathione can't keep up. Without functional, healthy glutathione, you can't remove industrial chemicals from your body. Higher amounts of riboflavin are found in liver, lamb, mushrooms, spinach, almonds, wild salmon, and eggs. A good B-complex vitamin covers all your B-vitamin needs.
Glutathione Needs Selenium
In order for your glutathione to turn hydrogen peroxide into water, it needs selenium. Without selenium, your body can't get rid of hydrogen peroxide. Many people are deficient in selenium. It is found in higher amounts in brazil nuts, tuna, halibut, sardines, beef, liver, chicken, brown rice, and eggs.
6) Make a Giant Leafy Green Salad
Leafy greens are extremely healthy for the liver. Here are just a handful of reasons to eat leafy greens everyday:
- They're high in plant chlorophyll that absorb environmental toxins.
- Greens increase bile production and support healthy bile (opposed to bile that looks like sludge).
- Greens neutralize heavy metals, chemicals, and pesticides, which lowers the burden on the liver.
- Greens are high in fiber, which help with elimination. If you do not have a bowel movement everyday, the fat-soluble toxins your body is trying to eliminate via your stool, end up sitting in the intestinal tract and get reabsorbed into your body. Very BAD!
Whether you like greens raw, cooked, juiced, or in a smoothie, you can’t go wrong by including them every day, if not multiple times per day.
7) Cook with Garlic
Garlic is very high in sulfur, known to activate liver enzymes that help your body flush out toxins. Garlic also contains high amounts of allicin and selenium, two natural compounds that aid in liver cleansing.
8) Detoxing Herbal Ideas to Complement Your Food Choices
There are some known supplements that support a healthy and detoxified liver:
- milk thistle
- schisandra berry
- reishi mushroom
- moringa leaf
- I like this blend for liver support.
Schisandra berry is one herb I especially love for the liver due to its powerful cleansing qualities. Not only does it cleanse the liver of all types of toxins, but once those toxins enter our blood stream, schisandra also assists in excreting the toxins from our body. Because of schisandra’s liver cleansing ability and antioxidant content, it’s also known for supporting skin health and healthy aging. Read up on Schisandra berry’s incredible benefits, and for more info about the amazing adaptogen, reishi mushroom, read The reishi mushroom has many benefits.
Giving your body a “reset” can set you up for more success, and put you on track for a healthy and happy new year. Here’s a great, simple liver cleansing drink to get you started.
In Health and Happiness,
Kelly Harrington, MS, RDN
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for Healthy Goods