The Challenge with Environmental Toxins: Our bodies are amazing! We are exposed to a wide array of toxins and poisons each day, and our body is designed to process and excrete them seamlessly. But our body’s detoxification burden is growing. Since World War II, more than 85,000 new synthetic chemicals have been released into our environment. Over 350 different pesticides are applied to our food (at the rate of over 4 billion pounds per year!). In fact, traces of more than 400 chemicals can be found in the average human (and over 200 in a baby’s placenta). Our toxic exposure is increasingly outpacing our body’s natural ability to keep ourselves clean inside and free from harm.
What are Cruciferous Vegetables? Certainly we can work to reduce our exposure, but we can also support and increase our body’s ability to process toxins. We detox primarily through our liver, kidneys, bowels, and skin. The best way to boost liver health and its level of detoxifying enzymes is to eat cruciferous vegetables. This family of vegetables includes cabbage, radish, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, arugula, turnip, and most heavy greens (e.g. kale, collard, turnip, mustard, bokchoy, broccoli rabe). All of these vegetables are rich in sulfur. More specifically, they contain a big dose of sulforaphane, a compound that helps the body to convert chemical toxins from harmful free radicals into water-soluble waste that can be easily excreted from the body. These detoxing powerhouses also help your cells to produce enzymes that naturally protect them from the molecular damage of cancer-causing chemicals.
How to Incorporate Cruciferous Vegetables into My Diet: Enjoy these vegetables daily and use a wide variety to obtain a wide variety of nutrients. There are a multitude of preparation options, including fresh salads, crispy stir-frys, marinated salads like cole slaw or broccoli slaw, steamed medleys, and raw cuts with dip. To maximize your nutritional benefit, avoid microwaving these vegetables. Sprouts from this vegetable family (e.g. broccoli sprouts, radish sprouts) are a quick and easy salad topper and the most nutrient dense foods. Juicing is also a great way to concentrate the nutrition from these vegetables. However you enjoy them, make a point of adding these detox building blocks to your diet every day.