Every day we are exposed to a myriad of toxins that can wreak havoc on us if left unchecked. From pollution, pesticides and household/commercial chemicals to overindulging and being under stress, toxins in all forms can tax our bodies. When our detoxification pathways become less efficient and our liver overburdened, we feel tired, sluggish, irritable and out of balance.

Participating in seasonal cleanses provides good quarterly maintenance and gives us the opportunity to hit our reset buttons. Beyond these tune-ups, the best way to support the body’s innate wisdom and ability to keep toxins in check is to incorporate daily habits that encourage consistent, optimal detoxing. This is where bitter herbs and bitter greens come in. These are superstar powerhouses for liver and digestive support, two of the main pathways our bodies use to help clear out toxins.

Bitter herbs—such as milk thistle, dandelion, gentian, chamomile, peppermint and Oregon grape—have been used for thousands of years for medicinal purposes, particularly to improve digestion, support the liver and counter inflammation. Regular use of bitters can help with food sensitivities, supports healthy skin and encourages proper digestive enzyme production; it helps relieve digestive symptoms such as gas, bloating and occasional heartburn. Incorporating just half a teaspoon of an herbal bitters blend before meals goes a long way in supporting liver and gallbladder health, enabling our bodies to clear out toxins efficiently. Making this a staple of daily mealtime ritual is a fun, easy way to promote daily gentle detoxing.

Like bitter herbs, bitter greens such as kale, arugula, nettles, chard and dandelion, pack a powerful punch in the way of detox support. The dark, leafy, vitamin-rich bitter greens are exceptionally beneficial for digestion and promote natural detoxification of the liver, which regulates cholesterol, balances hormones, detoxifies the blood and metabolizes fats.

Incorporating fresh bitter greens into smoothies, fresh juices, salads, pesto or tomato sauces, and soups are great ways to get a daily dose of the nutritional magic greens have to offer. Serve them lightly sautéed as a side dish. As a bonus, eating more greens will also help balance taste buds and reduce cravings.

Detoxing doesn’t have to be intimidating or daunting. Simple, daily lifestyle choices help us help our bodies work at optimal levels. The basics of drinking plenty of purified water; exercising regularly; eating well most of the time; and choosing organic, chemical-free products whenever possible are important; incorporating bitter herbs and bitter greens into our diets can help us feel our best and become the lean, mean detoxing machines nature intended!

 Anna Perelli is a certified holistic health counselor and owner of the Centre for Natural Healing, an herbal apothecary located in Norwalk. For more information on detox methods or bitter herb remedies, call 203-857-0202, visit CentreHealingCT.com or stop by the shop.