Sophie Peel

Daily detox with watercress

Sophie Peel
Daily detox with watercress

Now is always the right time to start a detox lifestyle

The Festive Season is in full swing or by the time you are reading this you’re looking to deal with the excesses and indulgence it brought! A 2 week period of fun and too many traditional and tempting treats, washed down with too many sugary and alcoholic bevvies leaves many of us with the urge and physical evidence to detox in January and cleanse our bodies.

Detox diets are everywhere but actually there is no scientific evidence to support the need or the value of a specific detox and that’s because our bodies are designed to repair, regenerate and detoxify themselves (though it’s obviously not a good idea to excessively overload ourselves with toxins). We have specific organs like the liver, kidneys, skin, digestive system and lungs as well as enzymes in our cells that work hard to break down and eliminate toxins and internal waste products every day, we just need to support this with some specific ingredients.

We are constantly exposed to external chemical stressors. These potential toxins, including pollutants, hormones, and toxins breathed in from car fumes , along with our own internal ongoing inflammatory response, damage DNA. This in itself can lead to chronic illness including Cardiovascular disease, Neurodegeneration, Diabetes, Obesity and Ageing. That’s the scary bit over - now let’s look positively at what we can do.

Bring in the Nutritionals to explain the science

Dr Lucy Williamson has explored the role watercress can play in the detoxification process . It is especially important in phase II of the process due to the high levels of a compound called Phenethylisothiocyanate (PEITC to its friends!) which is found naturally in watercress.

The reason watercress and its PEITC compounds are so important is that they are responsible for converting the fat soluble toxins stored in your body into water soluble toxins, that can then be expelled by our bodies through sweat and pee. This process is know as Phase II Detox and occurs when you consume the PEITC compounds found in watercress..

TOP TIP to MAX out the benefits

PEITCs are activated by enzymes in the watercress and our gut and are very sensitive to overheating (anything above body temperature). They are therefore better absorbed by the body when the watercress is consumed raw which means that if you are planning to improve your daily detox with watercress, it’s best to whizz some raw watercress into a smoothie or eat it in a salad.

Try this fabulous Watercress, Avocado & Lime Smoothie from Keri Astill-Frew at The Watercress Company for starters.

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Alternatively, this Watercress & Orange Detox Tonic is a great way to start the day.

5 Simple Ways to Detox Every Day

  1. Increase Your Daily Fruit and Vegetable Intake -Strive to eat three or more servings of vegetables and two or more servings of fresh fruit every day at a minimum but ideally a total of eight to ten servings a day.

    Vegetables thought to be particularly good for a liver detox tend to be brightly coloured or strongly flavoured including watercress, onions, garlic, beets, artichokes, and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, collard greens, kale, and Brussels sprouts. These are mainly sulphur based amino acids and the only way to trigger the Phase II process.

    Good fruit to eat with plentiful phytochemicals includes apples, apricots, blueberries, cantaloupe, cherries, cranberries, grapefruit, figs, grapes, kiwi, lemon, lime, mango, melon, nectarines and oranges

  2. Try Probiotic-Rich Foods - Foods that are rich in beneficial live microorganisms, called probiotic bacteria, may help to enhance digestion, support the immune system, decrease inflammation, and improve the ratio of beneficial to potentially harmful bacteria in the gut. They can be found naturally in kefir and yogurt, kombucha and fermented vegetables

  3. Fibre-Rich Whole Grains - swap white carbs such as white rice, pasta and white bread for gluten free grains such as brown rice, quinoa (not a true grain but an herb), steel-cut oats, millet, amaranth, buckwheat, and wild rice. this will help heek you bowels moving and flush out toxins more regularly.

  4. Drink More Fluids - Many of us still fail to drink the recommended 8 glasses of water a day but to flush out the toxins that are water soluble - we need to drink more fluid - not alcohol or coffee, and if water doesn’t appeal try herbal tea or add frozen fruit to your water bottle.

  5. Swap Meat Protein for Beans and Legumes - Beans and legumes are high in fibre, protein, and iron. They're also less expensive and fattening than animal protein. Try split yellow and green peas, lentils, chickpeas, cannellini, black-eyed peas, adzuki and kidney beans


Planning your daily detox lifestyle

A detox diet isn’t about depriving yourself of certain foods or activities—it’s about taking better care of your body and mind so that you can feel great in the everyday. Try using this time to strengthen your self-care, such as by improving your sleep routine and treating yourself to a massage (a therapy thought to promote the release of toxins).

If you’re not used to eating a lot of fibre, it may take a few days for your body to adjust to the high-fibre content of a detox diet. To stimulate your digestive system, try sipping herbal tea (such as ginger tea, peppermint tea, caraway tea, or cinnamon tea). By day four or day five of a detox lifestyle, many people begin to feel more energetic and notice that their digestion is improving.

As the days progress you’ll likely find that simple changes such as drinking more fluids or eating more vegetables can have a profound effect on your daily well-being.

Don’t try to make too many changes all at once. Research shows that people form healthy habits more easily when attempting to take on simple actions (such as drinking more water) rather than striving to adopt elaborate routines.

Research indicates that healthy habits can take up to six weeks to become ingrained—and that treating yourself to small rewards can help motivate you to stick with those positive changes.

For more advice on how to get the most from your detox lifestyle click here

Our #1 most popular simple salad

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Ultimate Superfood Salad

A simple and popular way of incorporating the leafy green vegetable into your diet is by making a salad. It’s quick, simple and tastes great! But don’t be fooled… you can be sure this superfood salad will live up to its name.  Why not add a roasted salmon fillet or chicken breast for an extra protein hit.

Serves 2

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes


85g watercress

100g quinoa

1 pomegranate

1 ripe avocado

100g roasted sweet potato

1 small punnet alfalfa sprouts or mixed sprouts

1 clove garlic

1 head broccoli, cut into small florets

25g mixed nuts, toasted

Sea salt and black pepper

Pinch chili flakes

Juice of 1 lime

75ml olive oil

25g chopped coriander



1.       Preheat the oven to 200°C, then chop the sweet potatoes into inch cubes with the skin on.  Place into a roasting tray, season with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil and roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes.

2.       Place a frying pan on a high heat and add 1 tbsp vegetable oil.  Season the salmon on all sides with sea salt, then when the oil is smoking place the salmon skin-side down into the pan.  Fry on high for 2 minutes, or until skin is crisp, then transfer onto a baking tray skin-side up and roast in the oven for ten minutes.

3.       Cook the quinoa in salted boiling water according the packet instructions.  Place the broccoli into a metal colander and set over the boiling quinoa.  Cover and steam the broccoli for three minutes.

4.       Once cooked, drain and rinse the quinoa and broccoli under cold running water.  Remove the sweet potato and salmon from the oven.

5.       Cut the pomegranate in half and squeeze the juice from one half into a large bowl.  Add the olive oil, chilli flakes and lime juice, whisk together and season to taste.  Add in the coriander, alfalfa, quinoa and sweet potato and toss well.

6.       Peel the avocado, remove the stone and roughly chop.  Spread the quinoa and sweet potato mixture onto a serving plate and dot the avocado over the top.

7.       Finally, bash the second half of the pomegranate with a wooden spoon to knock the seeds out and scatter these over the plate along with the toasted nuts.  Serve with the rested salmon fillet on top.

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