Whole foods cleanse (natural fertility 101)


It’s really no coincidence that I started off the Natural Fertility 101 series with detoxification. Even in January. You see, cleansing our bodies before conception is important AND January is a great time to do it! During the fall months we normally dine on rich and dense foods like stews, chili, and roasts so that our bodies can build up nutrient stores to help us last through the winter months. The normal indulgent and sweet treats of the holidays are also behind us and our bodies are ready for a break.

I’d long heard that winter was a great time for a cleanse and I heard it again when I had a chance to listen to Jordin Rubin speak last fall. He highly recommended a week-long diet cleanse every three months, starting in January. A recent newsletter from the Body Ecology Diet mentioned the same thing as well as referred to the Traditional Chinese Medicine theory that backed that thought as well.

But how do you cleanse your body?

It can actually be as simple as making just a few changes within your diet and healing with real foods.

Whole foods detox
Length of a whole foods cleanse

The length that one would choose to cleanse can vary by person, but could last somewhere between 3-10 days. The goal is to lighten the load placed on the body and increase bile production in order to assist the body in its natural detoxification system to remove toxins. (increased bile production makes the liver more efficient and moves more toxins out of the body faster than it normally would)

You don’t want to do a strict dietary cleanse any longer than 10 days (unless you’re working with a professional for a specific health issue) because while the foods that help your body cleanse are healthy, you also need to make sure you get the building blocks needed for strong health as well as keeping your reproductive system working in top gear. Growing babies need those building blocks too!

I’ve also chosen many times to simply reduce harder to digest foods and increase more cleaning foods without a major overhaul on my diet.

Foods to avoid or reduce during a “cleanse”

  1. Caffeine – While it’s the most popular ‘drug’ consumed in America, it’s also very hard on the body. It’s one of the biggest contributors of adrenal fatigue, causing constant internal stress. It also causes us to push our bodies beyond normal limits and we work instead of rest.
  2. Sugar – Not only is refined sugar hard to digest it depletes the body of nutrients. During a time of cleansing, we should also refrain from even unrefined sugars to allow for even more healing.
  3. Gluten, Grains, Legumes, Nuts, and Seeds – Often hard for people to digest, they also contain enzyme inhibitors that are difficult for the body to deal with.
  4. Meat – While meat is a very nutrient dense and building food, there are times where we need to take a short break from including it into our diets.

Detox diet- what to eat, what to avoid

photo credit – m.kukova

Foods that may assist in detoxification

All of the following foods have wonderful cleansing properties to them and contain plenty of antioxidants, sulpher compounds, and/or specific nutrients that can help increase bile production.

  • Dandelion leaves and spinach.
  • Carrots
  • Beets
  • Broccoli and brussel sprouts
  • Asparagus
  • Garlic
  • Lemon
  • Avocado
  • Eggs

Other foods to include

Probiotic Foods. Fermented vegetables, yogurt, kombucha, and homemade lacto fermented dressings all add to the beneficial bacteria within your system. This bacteria is essential for good health and keeps your body’s immune system functioning properly.

Homemade Bone Broth. Deeply nourishing, bone broths are rich with minerals and may help heal the digestive system.

Seafood. More specifically wild caught seafood, is not near as “heavy” as other animal meats and offers a multitude of essential nutrients.

Berries and “Sour” Fruits. Lower in natural sugar, many types of berries and the more sour or tart fruits can help the body cleanse as well as help deal with any sugar craving that come up during a cleanse. You’ll want to look for not only berries and lemons, but fruits like green apples and grapefruit.

{Learn more about cleansing with foods in chapter two of the book!}

Cleansing During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

There are a couple of times in life when a woman should not try to actively cleanse her body. Pregnancy and breastfeeding are those times! When you cleanse, your body may release many toxins, which can end up being sent to the baby in utero as well as through the breast milk. It would be a good idea to eat foods that have cleansing properties along with your normal diet, but do not cut out foods like whole dairy and meat because your little one needs these nourishing foods to grow and develop correctly.

Also be aware of when you try to conceive following a strict cleanse as the sperm and egg have a three-month life before conception. You don’t want to be displacing toxins around your body to have them effect the DNA of the egg or sperm. If you are already in good health and don’t have a lot of exposure to toxins, this won’t be such a big deal as if you are coming off of a very standard american diet and may have a much larger toxic body burden.

What do you do/have you done to actively cleanse your body with foods?

article originally posted on January 10, 2011

Donielle Baker

Donielle Baker

owner and editor of Natural Fertility and Wellness at Natural Fertility and Wellness
I believe women can learn how to heal their bodies & balance their hormones through natural methods. An advocate for natural health, I have a passion for nourishing/real food nutrition and natural living. My personal background includes both infertility and miscarriage and I started Natural Fertility and Wellness in 2008 in order to share all of the information I found helpful in my journey to heal from PCOS and overcome infertility.
Donielle Baker
Donielle Baker
Donielle Baker
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  1. Hélène

    The book Fat Flush Plan by Ann Gittleman is quite good for cleansing. She’s all about the liver. I wouldn’t recommend it for the 2 wks like she says and i’d add back in dairy once I was done with cleansing and onto the phase 2, but it’s a great book.
    1/2 lemon or lime in water and ground flaxseeds daily in water is great for ur liver, for instance. 8oz cranberry juice a day is another idea—no juice with it, no sweetener (shes anti-fake sweeteners), so u spread it out over the day, very diluted in water.
    i got one at goodwill for a buck but theyre in libraries too.

  2. Hélène

    Dandelion leaves and spinach
    Beets & greens
    Broccoli and brussel sprouts
    These should all be eaten cooked as they are goitrogenic, acc to WAPF i believe. alot of ppl think a cleanse means all raw.

  3. Vanderbilt Wife

    Thanks for the advice! I am breastfeeding, but I will definitely be trying to add more of the cleansing foods to my diet and tryreallyhard to abstain from sugar and caffeine.

  4. Rebekah Bennett

    Also parsley is another detox herb…but DO be careful if you are breastfeeding . I have just recently cut out all dairy, wheat, beef, nuts, seeds, eggs, peanuts, and coconut and sugar from my diet due to my daughters allergies (she is breastfeeding). So it seems I am on a detox diet! I am adding in grains so I don’t detox too fast. That is especially a concern for me because my daughters health is what it is because I did detox too fast when she was an infant. I accidentally detoxed when I my daughter was only 2 months old (I was told to take a parsley tincture because of medication for a tick bite) but it caused me to detox too much and my daughter is still suffering from the results. I am working hard to help her body heal. So detox very SLOWLY if you are breastfeeding. It won’t hurt you if you detox too slowly but you can’t undo it if you detox too fast and your baby gets too much.

  5. Lisa

    I have to say that my husband and I did about 80/20 on good whole foods, organic and such. We got pregnant our FIRST month. Go for it, eat well, be happy.

  6. Kelsey

    What are your thoughts on dry skin brushing? I read about it a few months ago and have been wanting to try it, but I don’t see any WAPF followers talking about it… It sounds like a good way to help your body detox. What do you think? P.S. I am LOVING your site. Thanks so much for all the info on here!!

    • Donielle

      @Kelsey, My thoughts are this – I don’t see anythign negative happening from it, but I’ve also heard others say that it does more for circulation (which is still a good thing!) than it does for detoxing the lymphatic system. A naturopath i had the pleasure of hearing speak on detoxing, and he mentioned that lymphatic massage is more effective than dry brushing since the lymph system moves so slowly and sluggishly.

      So I think it’s a good thing – for both exfoliation and circulation, but I do wonder how much “detoxing” it does.

      Hope that helps!

  7. Liberty

    A fantastic resource tool for cleansing is New York Times Bestseller titled “Clean” by Alejandro Junger, MD. Also Paul and Patricia Bragg’s book titled “Water”. Excellent informative tools for getting the accurate information on fasting or cleansing.

  8. Marlene


    So, if we are trying to conceive this month for example, I shouldn’t try to go on a 3-10 day cleanse? I’m not sure I understood that part.

    Thank you!

    • donielle

      @Marlene, A detox is really just something that depends on each person and how in depth they want it to be. The heavier the detox, the longer you’d want to wait to TTC. So unfortunately, I can’t give you a specific answer. I know if it was ME, I would feel comfortable cutting foods like sugar and gluten out of my diet, eating as much organic as possible, and increasing the intake of foods that help the natural detoxification process along. I would not feel comfortable using a lot of herbs or a really strict diet if I was actively trying to conceive.

  9. Kaytee S.

    My husband and I are planning on “trying” again very soon, like in two weeks soon. I just stumbled on your site and have questions on detoxifying my body to get ready for baby 2 (fingers crossed) I was really hoping to get healthy prior to conceiving. I eat relatively healthy…in my opinion. Rarely eat fast food, no soda, red meat on occasion but mostly chicken, ground turkey or fish, veggies but not as much as I should, not much fruit and I switched to decaff and have a cup a day just during the work week Mon – Fri. I am concerned about changing too much now if I am looking to conceive this soon. Any suggestions on some healthy things to add to my diet that won’t detox me dramitically but help in fertility?

    • Donielle

      @Kaytee S., Adding in healthy foods shouldn’t really cause you to detox. Drastically cutting out everything but vegetables will, so just make cleaner choices, eat animal protein before 4 or 5 pm if you can, and consume a variety of nutrient rich foods.

      And of course, cut out sugar. 🙂

      many blessings!

  10. JazzFest

    I was wary to read this post because I hate the thought of cleanses, and think that lots of veggies and fruits is the best way to cleanse. It’s good to see that this cleanse is only a restricted food list rather than living off lemon water w/cayenne for 10 days!

    • Donielle

      @JazzFest, I think way to many push crazy cleanses! If we’d only support our bodies natural functions we’ll regularly be “detoxing” without being starved of nutrients. 🙂

  11. Liza

    Hi Donielle,
    Thank you for the information. I have been off pill for four months now which I think it tampered with with my hormones. I plan to take carrots and beet juice cleansing. Hope it will help with TTC.


  12. CeCe Ellis

    What do you think about body wraps? I offer this to alot of clients to help them quickly release toxins and drains thru the lymphatic system?

    • donielle

      @CeCe Ellis, That’s not something I’ve done a lot of research on, or have personal experience with, though I’m always up for learning more if you have extra info.

  13. Alex

    Hello, my husband and I are wanting to try for another baby very soon. I am currently doing a juicing fast and plan on doing it for a couple more days. How soon can my husband and I try to conceive? I am quite strict on my diet normally. I eat very little gluten and meat, and I eat lots of fruits and veggies. Thanks

    • donielle

      @Alex, I wish I could give you a specific timeline, but it really all depends on how you feel your body “detoxed” and how you ate before and after as well. Some people have lots of toxins to get rid of and they may want to wait a bit longer. Others sail through it like they didn’t have much to cleanse and can start right away. So it really depends on how you feel your body is nourished.

  14. Piper Post

    Question! What about eating oils when cleansing? Is olive oil or coconut oil ok?

    • donielle

      @Piper Post, Yes, both are good and healthy to consume!

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