Does the grapefruit detox really work?

Five ways grapefruit can improve your health, plus a winter salad recipe.

grapefruit salad recipe, detox foods

Julie Daniluk, R.H.N.

Most of us have heard of the famous grapefruit detox and wondered about its effectiveness. And while the results are overblown, there is something to be said about the healing power of this wonderful bitter and sweet cousin of the orange. During the winter, when the produce aisle gets a little pricier and tired looking, the one thing that gets better is the quality of citrus fruits. That’s because February is peak season for grapefruits in Arizona, California and Florida.

Even if grapefruit won’t help you drop 10 pounds the way the fad diets promise, it does make a great alkaline breakfast suggestion. While you might think that grapefruit is an acidic food, when we burn them in our bodies, they actually leave our bodies more alkaline due to their mineral content. Alkaline foods help our bodies cope with the acidic refined choices we consume like sugar, white flour and processed meats.

Grapefruit actually slows down phase 1 detoxification in your liver. This may sound like it’s a bad thing, but it turns out that excessive amounts of toxic chemicals, such as pesticides, may cause hyperactivity or what’s called “induction” of this pathway. This can result in high levels of damaging free radicals being produced if phase 2 detoxification can’t keep up. Other substances that may cause hyperactivity include caffeine, alcohol, dioxin and paint and exhaust fumes.

If the phase 2 detoxification systems are not working adequately, these intermediates can cause substantial damage. By enjoying grapefruit, you can slow phase 1 and let phase 2 catch up, helping your liver balance out the workload.

Five health reasons to eat grapefruit

1. Blend up those seeds into your smoothie if you dare! Grapefruit seeds are extremely powerful antimicrobial agents that are packed full of antioxidants. This bitter seed is a great addition to any digestive cleanse in order to ward off unwanted bacteria, parasites and even fungus. So stock up on grapefruit before you hit that tropical vacation this winter to prevent food-borne illness!

2. Grapefruit is a great source of vitamin C, which has been shown to boost production of white blood cells to fight off pathogens. Also, in recent studies it has been shown to increase glutathione (powerful antioxidant in the body) levels in red blood cells as well to get double the protection! Make sure to load up on vitamin C if you’re considering a cleanse, so your immune system gets the support it needs when toxins are released from your system.

3. Grapefruit can reduce the amount of drugs needed to get a desired effect.
They contain a flavanoid called naringin that has the ability to inhibit enzyme activity both in the liver (phase 1) and the intestines, which break down these drugs for elimination. This allows higher concentrations into the bloodstream. It has been shown to have promising therapeutic use in cancer treatment to lower the amount of chemotherapy drugs needed for treatment. This effect can allow us to use fewer drugs and put less stress on your liver, allowing it to function more efficiently. Note: Grapefruit juice interacts with a number of prescription drugs, so check with your doctor before increasing your grapefruit consumption.

4. Grapefruit can help reduce cholesterol. Grapefruit is packed full of soluble and insoluble fibre, which bind to fats and bile in your digestive tract and eliminate LDL (bad) cholesterol. Combine grapefruit with other high-fibre foods to aid in elimination for a great cholesterol-lowering cleanse. Grapefruits are also a low-glycemic fruit choice so include half a grapefruit with breakfast to improve heart health.

5. Grapefruit has been shown to decrease the risk of breast cancer. Due to the high antioxidant content of this super fruit, it can help maintain the integrity of the breast tissue cells and prevent mutation. However, be careful if you’re undergoing hormone therapy. The inhibitory action of the naringin flavanoid may affect estrogen clearance from your system and put you at a greater risk. If you want to ensure that estrogen is being properly metabolized and eliminated, try pairing grapefruit with other sources of fibre to cleanse the digestive tract and allow proper elimination to achieve hormone balance.

Miami winter salad
During the cold winters in Canada, it’s easy to forget fresh fruits, vegetables and salads and substitute with more cooked and comfort foods. This warming winter salad provides plenty of fibre and carotenoids while adding some good natural fats from the avocado and pecans for warmth.

1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp ginger, grated
1/2 tsp Umeboshi Plum paste or 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 grapefruits, peeled and sectioned, juice reserved
2 pears, cubed
1 large ripe avocado
1/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans, toasted

1) Section grapefruit and squeeze juice out into a bowl.
2) Whisk together oil, ginger, plum paste and salt in the same juice bowl.
3) Add onion and toss to combine.
4) Top with grapefruit and pear sections, cover and refrigerate.
5) Just before serving, peel and slice avocado.
6) Add to chilled salad along with pecans, and toss gently to combine.
Serves 8.

Nutritionist Julie Daniluk hosts the Healthy Gourmet, a reality cooking show that looks at the ongoing battle between taste and nutrition. Her book Meals That Heal Inflammation advises on allergy-free foods that both taste great and assist the body in the healing process.

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