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Myth: Detox diets remove toxins from your body

detox dietTRUTH: If you google search for “detox diet”, you’ll get a range of results from fasting to strict meal plans.  Most of these use quasi-science and make extremely overblown claims touting the benefits of detoxing.

So what’s the science based perspective?  Here are the basics:

  • Natural detox mainly happens in the liver (though other systems are involved too)
  • There are 2 phases to detoxification:
    • Functionalization phase.  Enzymes partially breakdown of fat soluble toxins that result in free radicals
    • Conjugation phase.  The free radicals are enzymatically converted into water soluble toxins that can be excreted in waste (urine, bile, and feces)
  • If one phase is lagging, the whole system is off

Now that you have the science, here’s what it means:  enzymes need the help of certain vitamins and minerals to breakdown toxins efficiently.  Here is a list of food and nutrition related factors that can help:

  1. Fruits and vegetables – phytochemicals, anti-oxidants
  2. Cruciferous vegetables (i.e. cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale) – anti-oxidants
  3. Turmeric – curcumin (the main compound that gives it the yellow color) – anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory
  4. Green tea – flavanols (especially catechins), anti-oxidants
  5. Fiber – fiber binds toxins and carry them out of the gut and reduces the contact of harmful compounds with the intestine
  6. Probiotics (i.e. yogurt and fermented foods, like Kombucha) – beneficial bacteria inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria that produce toxins
  7. Foods with sulfur (eggs, garlic, onions) – sulfur helps the body produce glutathione (an antioxidant critical in both phases)

BOTTOM LINE:  There’s no cure-all, instant detox to remedy poor eating habits.  Water and a healthy diet are all you need to naturally (and continually) detox your system.  Make healthy choices and your body will have the ability to compensate for your indulgences!  And no, the Raw Food Diet doesn’t do it either…



  1. Time Magazine: Detox, Schmeetox
  2. Medical News Today: Debunking the Detox Myth

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