It’s the beginning of the year again and after the probable over indulgences of December everyone is focusing on improving their diet, dropping some weight and getting their energy back from the sluggish tendencies of Christmas period. As we are discussing this month, many people will be following a detox plan, adding some detoxifying juices into their diet or simply trying to increase their consumption of certain fruit and vegetables. We follow these plans knowing the foods included in these strategies are supposedly there because they optimise the detoxifying process in the body, but why? And what other properties do they have that makes them so vital to our daily diets?

In this article today I have chosen to focus on 5 foods that are particularly effective and essential for a healthy body.

Ginger

The most beneficial part of ginger is the rhizome, or the root part. This is because is contains so many anti-oxidants including gingerols, shogaols, and zingerones. Theses antioxidants help to protect the body from oxidative stress helping reduce inflammation. In particular ginger reduces inflammation in the colon, improving digestion and the body’s ability to flush out toxins. There has been studies that strongly suggest this decreases the risk of colon cancer. Ginger also boosts the metabolism, temporarily increases thermogenesis in the body. This is a state where the body burns stored fat to create heat. Therefore ginger can help the body burn fat and help maintain the metabolic rate. Along with these benefits ginger has anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-parasitic properties, all which help the body fight stresses caused by toxins and pollutants.

Lemons

Lemons help to restore the pH balance in the body as they are alkaline-forming on body fluids. When the body’s environment becomes too acidic, an effect of a diet high in caffeine, processed foods, and alcohol, it can cause acidosis. This presents itself in several negative ways. It can cause mouth ulcers, dry skin, and dull lifeless hair, digestive issues such as stomach ulcers and acid reflux as well as depression. Lemons work to counteract this and help the body remain in the alkali state it needs to be in. Lemon are rich in vitamin C which therefore mean they are a great source of antioxidants and flavonoids, helping your body fight infection and oxidative stress. Lemons are very helpful to the liver, they simulate it and work to dissolve uric acid and other toxins. They also help to cleanse the bowels. Lemons encourage peristalsis, a movement which helps food move through the colon, thus this increases the regularity of waste removal and toxins. Due to the high amount of vitamin P (bioflavonoid) lemons can also reduce high blood pressure by helping to strengthen blood vessels and increase the efficiency of the systematic movement of the heart.

Broccoli

Broccoli is high in a sulphur rich compound, sulforaphane. Sulforaphane works to protect cells by blocking destructive enzymes as well as boasting cell enzymes that protect against molecular damage. This can therefore help protect against cancer causing chemicals and protect the body from other cellular damage such as arthritis. Sulforaphane has also been found to help stabilise DNA methylation which is an essential part of normal cell function. Sulforaphane therefore assists in enabling cells continue doing the job they are meant to do, making sure they don’t mutate and multiply unnecessarily becoming cancerous. Broccoli like all of these foods is a great anti-oxidant, protecting your body and your immune system from oxidative stress and ageing!

Kale

All hail kale!!! If there was one super food it should be kale. Kale is the most nutrient rich food on the planet! From just 65g of raw kale you receive all of the RDA of vitamin A, C and K. As well as a high amount of vitamin B6, manganese, potassium, magnesium, copper and calcium. Although it is low in fat the fat that is present in kale in primarily omega 3 fatty acids, which help your body to absorb vitamins such A and K, handy!! Kale is also very rich in antioxidants, particularly the flavonoids quercetin and kaempferol. These similarly to other antioxidants help to lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, are anti-bacterial and anti-viral. Kale can lower cholesterol. It contains the substance which binds bile in the digestive system, enabling it to be the carried out of the body. This means the bile isn’t reabsorbed into the blood lowering overall blood cholesterol levels. Kale contains sulforaphane just like broccoli so can help in a similar way, and these are only a few of its potential benefits!

Turmeric

Has been used in medicine, particularly in India for thousands of years. Turmeric contains compounds call curcuminoids, the most important of which is curcumin. The main active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin however in the natural spice the actual percentage of curcumin is quite low, only 3%. Therefore in order to get the amount that would be helpful a supplement is the best option. Why is curcumin so valuable to the body? It is a fantastic anti-inflammatory, and has been found to be as effect as some anti-inflammatory drugs.  Although acute short term inflammation is very important for protecting the body against bacteria, long term chronic, low-lying inflammation can be very harmful. It is now believed this can seriously contribute to various diseases such as Alzheimer, heart disease, cancer and other degenerative diseases. Therefore curcumin can help protect the body against these potential problems. Curcumin is a powerful anti-oxidant, it works in 2 ways to protect the body against free radicals. Firstly it is brilliant at neutralizing free radicals, because of its chemical structure it can bind to these unstable cells, blocking them and stopping them from causing havoc in our systems. Secondly it boosts the body’s own anti-oxidant potential therefore helping to protect us in two ways from oxidative stress.