Saint Louis University

Author: Katrina Skurka
Published: Wednesday, May 8, 2013


Detox and cleanse diets are becoming more and more popular. These diets claim to remove harmful toxins from the body and promote weight loss. Often they require fasting with juices, others use laxatives or enemas to cleanse the colon. Most require the purchase of some special supplement only available through the author’s website. The most famous of these diets is the Master Cleanse, which requires that you only consume a mixture of water, lemon juice, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper for days.

So do these diets actually work? Well yes and no. Since most require a drastic reduction in calories, they will often lead to weight loss. Unfortunately the weight loss is water and muscle so as soon as you start eating normally again the weight will come back on. The truth is our bodies are already designed to remove toxins through our kidneys, liver, and colon. So if you wanted to help your body cleanse itself of toxins, the best way is to eat foods that help these organs work at their best. Below is a list of foods to add to your diet if you want to detox.

  • Beets - Beets are full of vitamins B3, B6, C and beta-carotene, they're also a valuable source of iron, magnesium, zinc and calcium -- all necessary to promote optimal detoxification and elimination.
  • Watercress - This is a powerful cleansing agent, improving the digestion and nourishing the skin, while its diuretic properties help to flush out toxins and excess fluids.
  • Sea Vegetables - These amazing foods house powerful antioxidants that help to alkalize the blood and strengthen the digestive tract. The algin in seaweeds absorbs toxins from the digestive tract the same way a water softener would remove the hardness from tap water.
  • Dandelions - They provide super antioxidants that support cleansing of the digestive tract and offer great liver support.
  • Broccoli - Broccoli and other vegetables in the broccoli family contain important phytochemicals which all have a specific effect on detoxification.
  • Lemon - This wonderful fruit stimulates the release of enzymes and helps convert toxins into a water-soluble form that can be easily excreted from the body.
  • Tumeric - This spice, often found in curry, has anti-inflammatory and infection-fighting properties, helping to rid your body of unwanted bugs and accelerate toxin removal
  • Apples - Apples contain a flavonoid, phlorizin, which is thought to help stimulate bile production and helps with detox as the liver gets rid of some toxins through the bile.

So instead of trying some quick fix detox diet, try adding some of these foods to your diet, eliminate processed foods, and drink plenty of fluids. Also try the recipe I developed in my community rotation at Des Peres Schnuck’s grocery store for their deli department.

Saint Louis University Dietetic Interns detox salad
  • 2 broccoli crowns
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 18 brussels sprouts
  • 1/3 cup parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 2 apples chopped
  • Juice of two lemons
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar (or other mild flavored vinegar)
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 2 tsp grated ginger
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Wash and rinse all your vegetables, then cut the broccoli and cauliflower into florets and trim the brussels sprouts. In a food processor shred the broccoli, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts until fine and add them to a large mixing bowl. You may need to do this in batches. If you do not have a food processor you can chop all the ingredients.

Process the carrot the same way and add to the bowl. Stir all ingredients to combine. Add the rest of the dry ingredients to the bowl, and mix with wooden spoon until fully combined. Add lemon juice, ginger, vinegar and syrup and toss to coat.