8 nutritionist-recommended foods to help you detox after Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving may be over, but our bodies are still recovering from the holiday-amount of alcohol and food we consumed last night. And while it's not necessarily the quality and substance of food that causes concern, it's the portions that the holiday has become notorious for that worries health professionals.

"The traditional Thanksgiving dinner of turkey with stuffing, cranberry sauce and potatoes isn’t necessarily unhealthy, especially if cooked from scratch and accompanied by lots of veggies," said Hannah Braye, registered nutritionist and senior technical advisor at ADM Protexin to AOL Lifestyle. "However, the issue is usually the volume that people eat. Thanksgiving dinner is reportedly the largest eating event in the United States, with people eating more than on any other day of the year."

Explains Braye, overindulging can occasionally consequent in a plethora of health complications, including increased pressure on the digestive system because the stomach has to expand to make room for all the food, which then leads to things like a spike in blood sugars and discomfort. 

But there are ways to ensure your body is well equipped to handle and digest the mass of foods at last night's meal through detoxification. "Detoxification is therefore not a quick fix, but something which we need to support through diet and lifestyle on a continuous basis, all year round," the expert maintains.

Stay well hydrated 

An important function of the kidneys is the removal of a wide variety of potentially toxic metabolites and metabolic wastes from the body. Elimination of unwanted substances via the urine depends on several variables that are, in turn, highly dependent on hydration status. Because of this, detoxification is commonly associated with fluid intake or hydration. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine determined that an adequate daily fluid intake is around 3.7 liters for men and 2.7 liters for women, with around 20 percent of this expected to come from food, and the rest from drinks. The best way to judge whether you are drinking enough water is to monitor the color of your urine, which should be a pale straw color. 

RELATED: 10 genius ways to trick yourself into drinking more water

Looking after your microbiome

One of the largest detoxification components of the body is the trillions of bacteria found in the digestive tract. Therefore, supporting a healthy microbial balance by consuming traditionally fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, kombucha, live yogurt and miso and taking good quality probiotic supplements (Bio-Kult Advanced Multi-Strain Formulation is recommended). Having a balanced gut flora is important to ensure healthy regular bowel movements, as well as improve overall digestion. Certain strains of gut bacteria are able to bind to toxins from food and water. For example, probiotic bacteria have been found to bind heavy metals such as cadmium and lead at the levels commonly found in foods. They also play a role in helping to support the health of the gut lining and the gut-liver axis by reducing levels of circulating endotoxins. 

Eat more fiber 

As a primary detoxification route, we need to ensure we are passing regular bowel movements (naturopathically, one to three well-formed movements a day is considered optimal), so eating sufficient fiber is important. This is often overlooked by people following water or juices fasts, who are best advised to supplement with gentle fiber while fasting. Fiber is found in high amounts in fruit and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and beans, nuts and seeds. When increasing fiber in your diet, it’s advisable to do this gradually to avoid aggravating the digestive tract. 

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World's healthiest vegetables
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World's healthiest vegetables

18. Romaine lettuce

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17. Artichokes

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16. Cauliflower

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15. Green pepper

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14. Tomato

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13. Corn on the cob

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12. Okra

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11. Carrot

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10. Green peas

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9. Cabbage (raw)

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8. Brussel sprouts

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7. Winter squash (baked)

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6. Broccoli

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5. Mixed vegetables

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4. Kale

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3. Spinach

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2. Potato, baked

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1. Sweet potato

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Eat a varied diet

Research shows that numerous nutrients from food can modulate detoxification processes. Following a mixed, varied diet, full of different plant-based whole foods is thought to be more beneficial for detoxification than taking high-dose supplementation of single nutrients or the repeat, daily ingestion of large quantities of the same food. Dietary diversity is also beneficial for the gut microbiome, with studies showing that those who eat over 30 different plant foods a week have much higher microbial diversity in the gut (a hallmark of good health).

8 foods to regularly eat more of

  • Cruciferous vegetables (especially watercress, garden cress and broccoli)
  • Allium vegetables (such as leeks, garlic and onions)
  • Apiaceous vegetables (celery, carrot and parsley) 
  • Resveratrol (from red grapes)
  • Omega 3 (from oily fish such as mackerel, wild salmon, anchovies and sardines)
  • Quercetin-rich foods (apples, apricots, blueberries, onion, kale, alfalfa sprouts, green beans, broccoli, black tea and chili powder)
  • Daidzein-rich foods (traditionally fermented soy products such as tofu)
  • Lycopene-rich foods (cooked tomatoes, pink grapefruit and watermelon)

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10 essential ways to detox your home
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10 essential ways to detox your home

1. Avoid teflon and plastics when cooking and storing food

Like harsh cleaning supplies, non-stick compounds like Teflon, as well as plastic containers, can leach harmful endocrine disruptors into food—especially when heated. Cook with glass baking dishes, and cast iron or stainless steel pans. Keep leftovers in glass or ceramic containers in the fridge whenever possible to avoid harmful BPA, and never heat up food in a plastic container!

(Photo: Hello Natural)

2. Deep clean your mattress and bedding

It is where you sleep 8 hours a night, right? Mattresses and bedding can be a breeding ground for dust mites, moisture and allergens. Start your home detox by deep cleaning your mattress with a simple baking soda-essential oil mixture, and wash sheets, blankets, duvet covers and pillows regularly in hot water (and invest in a pillow case cover!). Consider buying sheets that are 100% organic cotton—i.e. not treated with pesticides or formaldehyde. 

(Photo: Hello Natural)

3. Green your cleaning supplies

Think getting your house clean means using harsh chemicals? Think again. Those super-strength cleaners actually do more harm than good (to your surfaces and yourself), and many have even been proven as endocrine disruptors. Tried-and-true natural cleansers like baking soda, lemon juice and vinegar are just as effective (with a little elbow grease, of course) and safer for children, pets and the environment. Bonus: they’re way cheaper, too! Get our room-by-room green cleaning guide, complete with shopping list and DIY recipes, to get you started.

(Photo: Hello Natural)

4. Clean the air with plants

Plants are the best way to clean the air inside your home. (NASA even uses them in space stations!) If your thumb isn’t exactly green, try one of these 10 fuss-free plants that clean the air. And make sure to double-check that any plants you buy are safe for pets.

(Photo: Hello Natural)

5. Make your home smell good -- the natural way

No need for fake-smelling sprays and air fresheners that clog the air with cloying, perfume-y scents and who knows what else. Simply make a homemade room spray using essential oils, try a DIY natural candle, fire up a pot simmer or an aromatic firestarter made with all-natural ingredients!

(Photo: Hello Natural)

6. Avoid dry cleaning and harsh laundry products

When you drop things off at the dry cleaner or use a super-strength stain remover on the kids’ clothes, it’s easy to forget that those chemicals are going to be sitting on your bodies (even if in a diluted form) when you wear the clothes again. Of course there are some garments that need special care, but try to use dry cleaning sparingly. For everyday laundry and stains, consult our guide to natural DIY laundry products, including homemade detergent, stain remover and dryer sheets.

(Photo: Hello Natural)

7. Don't forget floors

Not wearing shoes in the house is the best way to keep outdoor toxins and chemicals off your floors. If you have kids and pets crawling and playing on your floors (and let’s be honest, probably eating off of them), make sure to not only keep them clean, but chemical-free. Orange oil and vinegar is great for disinfecting hard surfaces, and hydrogen peroxide works wonders on carpet stains.

(Photo: Hello Natural)

8. Ditch Dust

Dusting isn’t just for when company is coming over! Keeping the ceiling fan and other “out of sight, out of mind” surfaces free of dust prevents it from circulating in the air, which can aggravate allergies. Try using orphaned socks!

(Photo: Hello Natural)

9. Make your own substitutes for overrated commercial antibacterial products 

Commercial chemical-based antibacterial products are quickly falling out of favor (even with the FDA) for being ineffective, increasing bacteria’s resistance to them, and disrupting hormones. They can even be harmful to nursing babies. There are plenty of products in nature—including tea tree, hydrogen peroxide, oregano, honey and lemon oil, peppermint oil and vinegar—that provide antibacterial benefits without the unsafe side effects. Try making some naturally antibacterial bathroom cleaners (including hand soap) and disinfectant surface wipes.

(Photo: Hello Natural)

10. Reduce pesticides

Use vinegar as a natural weed killer for plants and gardens. Try to buy organic fruits and veggies whenever possible (or at least these ones, which rank highest in pesticide levels) and use an all-natural fruit and veggie wash for fresh produce when you prep meals.
 

(Photo: Hello Natural)

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