If decadent meals and sweet treats have left you nursing a sore stomach, stock up on these detoxifying foods for a gentle, nourishing cleanse
Credit: Flickr / Greg Turner

If decadent meals and sweet treats have left you nursing a sore stomach, stock up on these detoxifying foods for a gentle, nourishing cleanse

Eating well doesn’t mean you have to fast for a week or knock back concoctions of lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper. There are many foods that cleanse the body of toxins and other unwanted nasties, but are delicious, too.

Incorporating detoxifying foods into your diet is a gentle, nourishing way to support your body’s purification processes, and they won’t make you feel limited or restricted. Here are a seven natural foods that can help you slough off toxins and restart your body for the New Year.

Broccoli
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Broccoli

This bright green veggie is part of the cruciferous family of vegetables, which have special sulfur-containing phytonutrients that help the liver filter toxins, excrete excess estrogen and disarm cancer-causing compounds. Broccoli also contains a unique combination of glucosinolates, which are nutrients that help neutralize and eliminate toxic baddies. Lightly steam or sauté them, roast them in the oven or munch them raw. Need inspiration? Check out this Garlic Roasted Broccoli side dish recipe.

Lemons
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Lemons

Consuming lemon juice stimulates digestion, kickstarts your metabolism and supports liver function. Lemons (and limes) are very high in Vitamin C, an important antioxidant that the liver uses to eliminate dangerous free radicals. Try squeezing half a lemon into a glass of water right after you wake up, before eating breakfast. It will really rev your body up for the day! Why not grow your own lemons?

Beets
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Beets

The gorgeous, deep pigment in beets comes from a set of phytonutrients called betalains, which support the second step of liver detoxification by triggering the enzymes that neutralize toxins. Beets also have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties as an extra bonus. Research has shown that betalains are lost the longer they are exposed to heat, so don't steam beets for more than 15 minutes or roast them for more than one hour. Learn how to grow beets in your own garden and even enjoy them pickled in this Sweet Spiced Pickled Beets recipe.

Garlic and Onions
Credit: Flickr / Anna Majkowska

Garlic and Onions

Like cruciferous veggies, garlic and onions possess sulfur-containing compounds that are critical to eliminating toxins. They're also good for the heart, are anti-inflammatory and help prevent cancer. And they add tons of flavour to virtually any dish. Here’s a handy tip: when cooking with garlic, let it sit for 15 minutes after chopping or crushing it, as this allows the enzymes contained within to work their magic. Skip the market and grow your own garlic and onions.

Cilantro
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Cilantro

This fresh herb is full of powerful antioxidant nutrients, has antimicrobial effects and is thought to help the body remove heavy metals. Use it in your salsas or guacamole, add it as a garnish, pop it into a smoothie or toss it in a pesto. Enjoy your own cilantro straight from the garden.

Flaxseed
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Flaxseed

When we begin to detoxify, we need a little helper to sweep the toxins out of our bodies. Flaxseeds are the perfect fit for this role because they are packed with fibre and will move those toxins through our digestive tract and out of our lives. Flaxseeds are also a good source of antioxidants and omega 3 fatty acids, which help fight inflammation, lower blood pressure, prevent heart disease and support the immune system. Grind a tablespoon of flaxseeds and mix them into water, sprinkle them atop breakfast cereals or stir them into a smoothie.

Water
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Water

Okay, we know this isn’t exactly a food, but water is essential to the detoxification process because it flushes all of the contaminants away. Swig at least 8-10 cups daily – if you have trouble remembering to drink it, set alarms throughout the day or download an app that will remind you.