7 Cleansing Superfoods & Sips for Liver Health, Energy, Mood and More!

Get updated on the cleansing market, with a look at beneficial ingredients, trends, and expert insights into what’s on the horizon

Cleansing
“Actively supporting the body’s natural
detoxification processes allows people to leverage some agency over their well-being in a time when we feel less in control than ever.”
– Miguel Gil, Organic India USA
Radiant energy, greater resilience to stress, clearer thinking, a healthy weight…these are among the top health goals to achieve to live a long, vibrant, happy life. And Jonathan Group, DC, RD, of Global Healing, says a healthy cleanse can be the key to removing harmful toxins and food choices, bringing all of these sought-after benefits.

“By eliminating dietary foods that commonly trigger gut reactions, like gluten, dairy, meat, and artificial preservatives, you create a healthier ecosystem in your gut in a short time,” says Dr. Group. “This can improve your digestion, provide more energy, and bring you better sleep.”

Fasting and cleansing have been around for centuries, says Cindy Kasindorf, Founder of Remedy Organics, and people turn to the time-tested methods for the results they enjoy. “The benefits that have come from a cleanse can be life changing as it can help you stick to a healthier, more balanced diet upon completion.”

Cleansing Category on the Rise

The cleansing category has also grown with the increase in liver conditions and stress-related physical and emotional problems, points out Gurusimran Khalsa, Sales & Marketing Director, Buddha Teas. Indeed, Johnny Bowden, Ph.D., aka The Nutrition Mythbuster, reports that 25% of all people living in the U.S. have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease…and even those who don’t can benefit from a cleanse. “Given the importance of detoxification to your health, (and to your weight),” Dr. Bowden says, “it’s not surprising that more and more people are turning to detoxes and cleanses.”

The increase in access to articles and research online has also driven consumers to be more health conscious. According to Miguel Gil, CEO of Organic India USA, consumption has moved beyond simply satisfying one’s palate, to harnessing the benefits of plants, specifically herbs, for optimal health. “Coming out of the initial phase of the pandemic, people are more cognizant of personal wellness and protecting themselves against daily exposure to toxins,” says Gil. “Actively supporting the body’s natural detoxification processes allows people to leverage some agency over their well-being in a time when we feel less in control than ever.”

Of course, the idea of cleansing can seem overwhelming. There are so many options, making it tricky to navigate the best approach. We asked the experts to break it down. From the best food and beverages to consume, to the herbs and supplements that lend a helping hand, these natural gems help to cleanse the liver, gut, and more.

What are consumers looking for?

Kasindorf says many consumers are looking for two things:

  1. Clean ingredients
  2. Products that can easily be incorporated into one’s daily routine

Gil echoes that, adding that customers are more discerning about the source of their detox food and beverages. Today, they are looking for whole, organic, nutrient-dense options, rather than overly processed “miracle” substances. And for health-conscious consumers, quality is key. “Quality is a big one,” Gil explains, “as when a product has a functional component, ingredients with high potency and purity become increasingly important.”

All-Star Cleansing Ingredients

 Apple Cider Vinegar

“Apple cider vinegar contains potassium, which helps transfer nutrients to cells and give toxic waste substances the boot,” says Ann Louise Gittleman, Ph.D., CNS, author of Radical Longevity. “It also consists of beta-carotene to help cleanse the body by getting rid of free radicals.”

Gittleman describes the pectin found in apple cider vinegar as “a fiber that ‘scrapes’ the cholesterol off blood vessel walls.” She cites studies conducted in Japan that have demonstrated apple cider vinegar’s ability to destroy free radicals in the body.

Bone Broth

Consuming bone broth boosts the body’s supply of the antioxidant glutathione, which is a powerful detoxifying agent, says Jillian Levy, CHHC, in an article on DrAxe.com. “Glycine is a precursor needed for the production of glutathione, which helps the liver flush out excess chemicals, stored hormones, and other waste. Other minerals, acids, and electrolytes, can also boost detoxification processes, including acetic acid (found in apple cider vinegar, which is often added to bone broth recipes), magnesium, and sulfate.”

Green Tea

The combination of green tea extract and exercise reduced the severity of obesity-related fatty liver disease by 75% in mice fed a high-fat diet, according to according to a study from Penn State. In the study, mice were fed a high-fat diet for 16 weeks. Those that also consumed green tea extract and exercised regularly were found to have just a quarter of the lipid deposits in their livers, compared to those seen in the livers of a control group of mice. Mice that were treated with only green tea extract or with only exercise had roughly half as much fat in their livers as the control group. Joshua Lambert, Associate Professor of Food Science at Penn State, theorized, “We think the polyphenols in green tea interact with digestive enzymes secreted in the small intestine and partially inhibit the breakdown of carbohydrates, fat, and protein in food. So if a mouse doesn’t digest the fat in its diet, that fat and the calories associated with it pass through the mouse’s digestive system, and a certain amount of it ends up coming out in its feces.”

Michael Lam, M.D., MPH, also touts the benefits: “Green tea contains catechins, which aid in producing detoxification enzymes that actually help remove harmful toxins and cancer-causing materials from your body.”

Neem

This leaf is used to purify the blood and cleanse the skin, says Gil. “A bitter and cooling detox herb, it can often be found in beverage form, but the whole leaves are incorporated into recipes as well. Due to its bitter taste, neem is more often than not found in supplements, tinctures, and powders, but you can also find it in green juices, smoothies and teas.”

Psyllium

Psyllium has been used in India as a way to cleanse the gastrointestinal tract for 5,000 years, says Gil. “It made its initial debut in the United States in the 1920s and has been steadily growing in popularity since the 1970s. Highly researched and backed by dozens of quality scientific studies, this gentle, bulk-forming laxative and natural prebiotic dietary fiber sweeps the intestines of waste and toxins, while nurturing the gut microbiome. Today it can be found in baked goods, cereals, crackers, smoothies and more.”

Root plants (ginger, turmeric, burdock & more!)

Root plants, like turmeric, ginger and burdock root, are a great way to clear the digestive tract, Khalsa says. Ginger root helps eliminate toxins and kindles the digestive fire, Khalsa explains, while turmeric helps remove mucus from the body and destroys Ama (the end product of undigested food). Gil adds that turmeric helps move food through the digestive tract, supports a healthy inflammatory response, floods the system with antioxidants and moves toxic waste out of the body. And burdock traditionally has been used as a blood purifier as a way to clear out toxins and as a diuretic to help the body rid itself of excess water. “Similar to dandelion tea, you can make burdock root tea, and it can also be found in supplement form or be eaten as a vegetable,” Annie Price, CHHC, shares on DrAxe.com. “What does it taste like? Burdock has a pleasantly crunchy texture and an earthy, sweet flavor that’s similar to lotus root or celeriac.”

Our experts also note that the Ayurvedic herbs ashwagandha and triphala continue to trend in the cleansing category, as they help support natural detoxification.

Spirulina

This blue-green algae has been labeled as a standout superfood in recent years. According to a report on Dr. Axe’s site, it can remove heavy metals and also can help eliminate harmful candida yeast.

Incorporating Cleansing Foods and Beverages into the Diet

Most of the ingredients spotlighted here can be easily incorporated into the daily lifestyle. According to Gil, consumers often utilize these ingredients in recipes to seamlessly boost the functional benefits of their everyday meals and beverages, making daily wellness more accessible and personalized, as well as effortless.

On the Horizon

Functional beverages will continue to see growth, and natural solutions for cleansing will continue to play a major role. As Gil notes, “Cleansing of the organs and GI tract brings whole system benefits, like greater energy levels, mental clarity, immune function, clearer skin, emotional balance and more, so it’s no wonder individuals are catching on.”

In addition, we can expect to see a rise in demand for personalized daily or multi-day detox and synergistic cleanse products, Gil predicts. “These programs allow for a deeper reset with protocols consisting of an array of herbal supplements, teas, juices, smoothies, and foods that can be customized according to the individual’s desires and lifestyle. This empowers a more regimented, focused cleanse with greater results. Detoxing and cleansing programs have been historically priced for a more affluent consumer, but we anticipate more cost effective, highly efficacious programs to hit the market in the near future.” WF

Previous articleSustainability and BEYOND
Next articleSeptember 2022
My name is Becca & I am the Communications Associate for WholeFoods Magazine (WFM). Food has always been something I take pretty seriously. Don’t believe me? On a trip to move my sister into her new apartment, I stood in line for three hours at a famous bakery, while the rest of my family moved heavy boxes and furniture into her new place. They couldn’t be too mad at me though, after I arrived home with a box of delicious sweets. Needless to say, I am definitely a foodie or whatever you want to call someone who plans day trips around food. Now that I’ve started at WFM, I am learning more about healthy, organic, natural food options. So now I am on a mission to explore healthier recipes, using natural and organic products. Join me as we explore some new takes on classic favorites + maybe some new recipes that have yet to be discovered (by me anyway).