If you are wondering if you can eat food and what kind on a cleanse, this article should help answer some of those questions.
The whole idea of a cleanse can seem overwhelming. When should you do it? How long should the cleanse be? Should you do a juice fast? Can you eat any food at all? Can you still drink coffee?
The thing to remember about a cleanse is that it can be modified to meet your needs and lifestyle. The results may be different, but most any cleanse is better than no cleanse. Of course, there are many in traditional medicine that might disagree on the idea of a detox at all. That’s ok. Those of you that have done one, have felt the results and realize the benefit.
The foods and recipes in this article will focus on foods that are generally safe and non-allergenic for most any cleanse. First, though let’s talk about why I feel food and certain nutrients are critical for a cleanse. Meaning, I don’t usually recommend a juice cleanse.
The key organ involved in detoxification is the liver. The skin, kidneys and intestines also play a role, but the liver does the heavy lifting. The liver is responsible for Phase I and Phase II detoxification. Basically, Phase I and Phase II detoxification pathways need to be working well enough so that the mobilized chemicals and toxins are broken down and excreted.
Phase I detoxification involves a 2-step enzyme process for neutralizing and mobilizing unwanted chemicals or toxins. That includes certain drugs, pesticides, caffeine, even hormones. Certain nutrients are required for Phase I detoxification – Copper, Magnesium, Zinc and Vitamin C.
There are also substances and nutrients that activate Phase I, and those that inhibit Phase I detoxification. Since the focus is on food in this article, you’ll want to know that foods activating Phase I include:
- The Brassica family – Cabbage, Brussel Sprouts, Broccoli
- Charcoal broiled meats – (because of high amounts of toxic compounds)
- A High-Protein diet
- Oranges, Tangerines, Lemons, Limes (not grapefruit)
- Caraway & Dill seeds
Foods that inhibit Phase I include:
- Grapefruit and grapefruit juice
- Curcumin from the spice turmeric
- Capsaicin from red chilis
- Clove Oil
- Onions (due to the quercetin)
While some chemicals are neutralized in Phase I, many need to be further processed by Phase II enzymes.
Phase II detoxification is the process of further neutralizing or breaking down the chemicals or toxins. Nutrients required for Phase II include Glutathione (supported by Vitamin C and N-acetylcysteine), Vitamin B6, Glycine, S-adenosyl-methionine (SAMe), Cysteine, Methionine, Molybdenum, Acetyl-CoA, and Glucoronic Acid.
That being said, it is a bit more complicated than just getting enough of these nutrients. Deficiencies of other nutrients interfere with Phase II detoxification enzymes. Deficiencies of selenium, zinc, Vitamin B2, B5, B12, Vitamin C and a low protein diet all interfere with Phase II detoxification. Aspirin and other NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories) also inhibit Phase II enzymes.
Foods that support Phase II detoxification include:
- Brassica family (cabbage, brussel sprouts, broccoli)
- Limonene-containing foods (dill weed, citrus peel & caraway oil)
- Fish oils
- Amino acids and Proteins
Now you know the basic importance of Phase I and Phase II detoxification and how the foods and nutrients used during a cleanse may affect the results. Key points to remember is that generally, foods high in Vitamin C and the B Vitamins are helpful. Amino Acids and Protein supports Phase II, which is critical.
There are many packaged detox programs and meal-replacements out there to simplify the whole cleanse idea. Take advantage of them! For instance, the 7-Day Nutritional Cleanse Kit supplies nutrients necessary to support Phase I and Phase II detoxification along with a somewhat structured meal plan. That makes it easy! The recipes below could be used on the 7-Day plan or along with any other cleanse products.
Recipes to use with a Cleanse Diet or Program
It will be easy for you to find smoothie and juice recipes to support your cleanse so I wanted to find some real foods you can eat. Lasagna, Fish, Soup, Salads, plus one Smoothie recipe that is amazing.
When you’re hungry for comfort food, lasagna is a frequent go-to meal. But lasagna and cleanse just don’t jive…until now! From the Detoxinista.com, here is a Detox Lasagna that sounds delicious, even if it doesn’t have noodles or dairy. It’s made with 5 simple ingredients you can easily find this time of year. The key ingredients are zuccini and kabocha squash.
Wondering what kabocha squash is? It’s an Asian winter squash, shaped like a pumpkin with a sweeter flavor than butternut. Rich in vitamin C, iron and beta carotene, it’s a nutritious addition to any meal.
The trick to making this recipe more like traditional lasagna is to roast the sliced zucchini “noodles” in the oven before putting it all together. The mushrooms add a wonderful flavor – I’d choose a baby portabello, and in case you weren’t aware, mushrooms have great health benefits.
You might be more surprised to know you can also take mushrooms in a supplement form. Perfect for supporting a healthy immune system, products like Host Defense MyCommunity Immune provides a powerful blend of 17 different mushroon species.
Now if you are concerned about candida, I would leave out the mushrooms. You could easily add spinach in their place or in addition to!
You’ll find the full recipe here.
Whole Foods Detox Salad
Salads are a common diet staple during a cleanse, but some salads can be downright toxic!
Not this Whole Foods Detox Salad from Food52.com.
Author Jennifer Trennum describes it as “Bursting with colour and flavor, it is one nutritious powerhouse.”
If you’re a raw food enthusiasts, you’ll love this. Made with fresh broccoli and cauliflower, sunflower seeds, and raw pumpkin seeds, you’ll enjoy plenty of crunch with this salad.
Jennifer throws in more texture and color with currants, raisins and carrots. Again, if candida is a concern, skip the currants and raisins.
The dressing is simple – fresh squeezed lemon juice – a definite staple for a cleanse! For added detox benefits all year long, be sure and add plenty of lemon water to your daily routine.
Get the full recipe here.
Lemon and Herb Fish Recipe
Clean fish should be a staple in everyone’s diet.
This recipe is from Anne at Fannetasticfood.com, and she shares the health benefits of fish, too.
“…high in protein and packed with heart healthy-omega 3 fatty acids, which help to reduce inflammation.” Inflammation is a precursor to chronic illness and disease.
Anne provides very helpful herb pairings for the different types of fish, from chives to marjoram and thyme. We all know how good herbs are for us right? This recipe includes dill and parsley which both support detoxification.
Prep and cooking time combined is under 25 minutes, which is an added bonus. Just make sure you’re using a wild caught fish. Farm-raised fish is high in omega-6 fats and tends to be very toxic.
Find the full recipe here.
The Detox Rainbow Salad
This salad looks too pretty to eat! It is an incredible antioxidant powerhouse salad though so go for it!
The recipe is from the Skinny Fork and includes avocado, red bell pepper, broccoli, cauliflower, carrot, romaine lettuce, red cabbage and sesame seeds. The avocado and red pepper have great anti-inflammatory properties. Since you are on a cleanse, do your best to use all organic ingredients.
There is no dressing included as part of the salad. If you want a dressing, it is best to use just extra virgin olive oil and/or fresh-squeezed organic lemon during a detox. However, if you don’t need a dressing, by all means don’t use one!
You might be tempted to dismiss the sesame seeds, but don’t! Sesame seeds contain sesamin and sesamolin. Both of these are beneficial fibers called lignans. You probably have heard that lignans may be helpful for lowering cholesterol. According to The World’s Healthiest Foods, “sesamin has also been found to protect the liver from oxidative damage.” Perfect for a cleanse diet.
Check out the full recipe here.
Detox Green Machine Soup
Okay, this may or may not look appetizing to you. But the ingredients make it a decent cleansing and alkalizing soup. If you’ve ever had a greens drink, you know how refreshing and energizing they can make you feel. This soup reminds me of that.
I haven’t personally tried it since I am allergic to celery. However, there are several comments at Savour The Senses Blog that say it is tasty and delicious.
Green beans, celery, zucchini, spinach, onion, garlic, basil and parsley make up the ingredients in the recipe. I would try it as directed the first time but my thought is, you could jazz it up by adding some red pepper. I might even be tempted to try substituting dill for the basil for something different. Let us know how you jazz it up!
One of the key ingredients in this soup is the green beans. It is a little known tidbit that green beans offer a decent amount of silicon – necessary for optimal bone health. Green beans are also high in B Vitamins and flavonoids like catechins and procyanidins. The addition of spinach and celery contribute to the super nutritional value of this soup.
Start your grocery list now and get the soup ingredients here.
Purple Power Smoothie
You all know fruits and veggies are good for you so they are a natural in a cleanse diet and in a smoothie. Blueberries and banana offer a wonderful base for this smoothie. Top them off with frozen mango chunks, spinach, carrots, apple, chia seeds and the interesting addition, fresh ginger root. Zesty!
Again, if you are on a candida cleanse diet, this may not be the smoothie for you with all the fruit. If candida is not an issue, you can’t go wrong with this tasty detox smoothie. It is almost like desert.
I can’t even begin to talk about all the health benefits of this smoothie. Antioxidants galore. Natural anti-inflammatory. Alkalizing. Full of proanthocyanidins, lutein, B vitamins, beta-carotene, minerals, and omega-3, etc. Ginger has antibacterial, antiviral and anti-parasitic properties – ideal addition to a cleanse diet.
You get the idea. If you want to put your own spin on it, go ahead. I would highly recommend though keeping the blueberries, spinach, carrots, chia seeds and ginger root. If you remove the spinach, use kale instead but just know as Andrew says, the color will be more brown that purple.
Andrew says this smoothie helps him to feel more focused and productive. We could all use some of that at times. Try this one on a Monday when you have the dreaded “go back to work” blues. Show up at work ready to be a rock star!
Get this super-charged recipe here.
Are you ready to start your cleanse?
Don’t get overwhelmed! Just remember, every little bit helps. If you attempt a 7-day cleanse and stop on day 5 because your schedule doesn’t allow you to follow it completely, that’s ok. You got 5 days in of healthy eating and gave your body a break from the influx of toxic foods you might have otherwise consumed. Just be committed to try it again.
If you need a little convincing to try detoxing again, read this article on reasons why detoxing is important.
At the beginning I mentioned you might wonder if you can drink coffee. It is an extremely common question I hear. So in a perfect world, you would not. Thank goodness we don’t live in a perfect world – right?
If you try to go without coffee cold turkey, you will get headaches and that’s not a fun start to a cleanse. If you continue drinking coffee, eliminate any sugar or creamer that you might use. That will help. Try cutting down a half-cup for a few days. After a couple days, cut down another half-cup and so on. You might be able to quit completely. But if not, that’s alright. Remember, every little bit of a cleanse helps.
Good luck! Please share your recipes and suggestions here. We all need some food inspiration sometimes.