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Natural Awakenings Milwaukee Magazine

A Naturopathic Doctor’s Guide to Detox for the New Year

Jan 01, 2022 12:00AM ● By Dr. Katarina Meister
January is an ideal time to cleanse in order to help offset the seasonal overindulgences and reset for the new year. To get started, here are three ways to support the detoxification organs:

Increase Liver-Supportive Foods

The primary organ of detoxification is the liver. When the liver is overwhelmed, it has less ability to metabolize hormones, leading to menstrual complaints and premenstrual syndrome. A high total-body burden can also shift the metabolism, causing the body to hold on to excess weight.

Foods that are sources of insoluble fiber support the liver, decrease oxidative stress, diversify the gut microbiome, balance circulating hormones and encourage good bowel movements. Examples of liver-supportive foods include leafy greens (such as spinach, kale, arugula, Swiss chard, collard greens, dandelion greens and beet greens) and cruciferous vegetables (such as broccoli, broccoli sprouts, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts).

A study published in 2015 in World Journal of Gastroenterology found that the dietary intake of broccoli sprouts for two months significantly decreased serum levels of liver-function markers, thereby improving liver function through reduction of oxidative stress. Other liver-supportive foods that help cleanse the body include garlic, onions, beets, radishes and artichoke hearts, as well as herbs such as parsley, cilantro and turmeric.

Ensure Optimal Bowel Movements

Another important detoxification organ is the gastrointestinal system. A marker of good health and appropriate detoxification is having regular and daily bowel movements. Ideal transit time is within 12 to 24 hours after ingesting food. Sub-optimal transit time or constipation creates stagnation in the large intestine, permitting toxins to linger for too long and become reabsorbed. This is called autointoxication.

To promote regular bowel movements, practice 30 minutes of daily movement (yoga, walking or jogging) and increase water and fiber intake. Good sources of fiber that promote healthy bowel movements include ground flaxseeds, chia seeds, kiwis, berries, cruciferous vegetables and oat bran. If bowel irregularity persists, be sure to ask a naturopathic doctor about potential causes of constipation, such as small intestinal bacterial overgrowth dysbiosis (imbalance of bacteria) and/or food sensitivities.

Stay Adequately Hydrated to Support the Kidneys

The third most important organ of detoxification are the kidneys, which help to remove excess waste and fluid, along with many other critical functions. The best way to support the kidneys is to drink more water. The recommended amount to ensure adequate hydration is half of the person’s weight, but in ounces. For example, a person who weighs 150 pounds should try to drink 75 ounces of water each day.

Dandelion tea is known for its antioxidant activity, which helps cleanse the body’s detoxification organs including the liver, skin and kidneys. Dandelion’s antioxidant activity has also been shown in an animal study to positively change the lipid profiles, which suggests that dandelion may also protect against the buildup of cholesterol plaque in the artery walls, known as atherosclerosis.

Katarina Meister, ND, is a licensed naturopathic doctor at Lakeside Natural Medicine, in Shorewood. For more information, call 414-939-8748 or visit