As a nutritionist, I always suggest that my clients get a jumpstart on weight loss and a new way of eating with a short "cleanse," to help eliminate cravings, wake up the digestive system and prepare the body for a new healthier way of eating.
Figuring out which foods are best for a cleanse can be tricky. So many foods feel refreshing and rejuvenating—hot tea, raw vegetables and fresh fruit come to mind. And with good reason: foods with insoluble fiber, like raw veggies, or a diuretic effect, like green tea, promote speedy digestion and "flush" the GI tract. These foods can be considered the best cleanse choices. Here are some of my faves and why they just might work.
Artichokes1 of 15
Artichokes contain antioxidant plant compounds called caffeoylquinic acids, which are used to treat hepatic (liver) disorders because they stimulate bile flow. Bile helps the body digest fats, and efficient bile flow clears the system of potentially inflammatory substances contained in fatty foods.
Avocados2 of 15
Avocados provide heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids and glutathione, a compound that is essential for liver pathway cleansing, and blocks the absorption of certain fats by the intestines that cause oxidative damage.
Beets3 of 15
Beets are among the few edible plants that contain betalains, plant pigments that give some beets their deep red color and have powerful anti-inflammatory and fungicidal properties. Betalains promote cell structure, repair and regeneration, especially in the liver—the body's primary detox center.
Broccoli4 of 15
Broccoli is one of the cruciferous vegetables, which are named for their cross-shaped flowers and known for powerful antioxidant properties. Science has shown that a diet rich in cruciferous veggies reduces the risk of certain cancers. Other cruciferous vegetables include cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and kale.
Collard Greens5 of 15
Collard greens increase bile acid binding, which makes it easier for bile to bind to large lipid molecules and pull them apart. Leftover bile acids are then excreted from the GI tract normally, taking leftover lipid molecules with them. Bile acid binding therefore helps to keep LDL, "bad cholesterol," in check.
Dandelion Root6 of 15
Dandelion Root acts as a diuretic by increasing urine production.
Dill and Fennel7 of 15
Dill and fennel are rich in vitamins and anti-inflammatory chemicals. Dill contains chemicals that help with the activation of glutathione, a liver antioxidant that attaches to free radical molecules and disarms them. Fennel is rich in Vitamin C, which has antimicrobial and antioxidant properties. Fennel is also high in fiber but low in calories—an ideal cleanse food.
Green Tea8 of 15
Green tea is richer in antioxidants than white, black and oolong teas, even though they all come from the same plant. The caffeine in green tea also gives this energizing drink a diuretic effect, which helps to alleviate bloating by counteracting water retention.
Lemons9 of 15
Lemons, like all citrus fruits, are rich in antioxidant Vitamin C.
Milk Thistle10 of 15
Milk thistle is one of the frequently researched plants in association with promoting liver detoxification. While more scientific inquiry is needed for firm recommendations, milk thistle contains a mixture of polyphenolic compounds (plant protectors) that assist liver cells in removing toxins from healthy blood cells.
Onion and Garlic11 of 15
Onion and garlic are both members of the allium family of vegetables, which provide pungent flavors to foods. These plants contain flavonoids that stimulate the production of glutathione, one of the liver's strongest antioxidants. As a result, they both have powerful anti-bacterial and immune-boosting properties.
Raw Greens12 of 15
Other fresh veggies (greens) are a good source of glutathione-essential for detox of the liver pathway. Fresh vegetables can also provide excellent sources of insoluble fiber, which gets the gut moving. Crisp, crunchy raw veggies are highest in this sort of fiber. Think kale, collards and broccoli.
Wheatgrass13 of 15
Wheatgrass, commonly served in powder or juice form, is rich in vitamins and minerals. While scientific evidence to support health claims about wheatgrass is lacking, products containing wheatgrass may add some yummy, low-calorie variety to your selection of cleanse foods and beverages.
Yogurt14 of 15
Yogurt that contains probiotics—make sure to check the label—supplies healthy bacteria that fortify the GI tract's natural flora, aiding digestion and boosting the body's natural immune responses.