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HomeDetoxification & ImmunityWhat is Detoxification? Here Are the Basic Steps and Common Foods to...

What is Detoxification? Here Are the Basic Steps and Common Foods to Detox

Detoxification can be defined as the natural or physiological or medicinal removal of toxic substances from a living organism, including the human body, which is mainly carried out by the liver. Basically, detoxification means cleansing of the blood. This is done by removing impurities from the blood in the liver, where toxins are processed for elimination. It can also be said that detoxification is a medical treatment of an alcoholic or drug addict involving abstention from drink or drugs until the bloodstream is free of toxins.

In medicine, detoxification can be achieved by decontamination of poison ingestion and the use of antidotes as well as techniques like dialysis. Many alternative medicine practitioners promote various types of detoxification using different plants, vitamins, minerals, and detoxification diets. But no evidence supports the use of these diets for toxin elimination.


The term toxin is used to describe anything that is foreign or poisonous to the body. When faced with toxicity, our bodies respond by retaining water, in an effort to dilute water-soluble toxins; and fat, to try to dilute fat-soluble toxins. Our body will store water and fat in an effort to dilute these toxins. There are two broad classes of toxins:

  1. Environmental toxins– these include household chemicals, industrial pollutants, food additives, and pesticides. 
  2. Internal toxins- internal toxicity is the process by which the body produces destructive toxic substances/ waste products as a result of various metabolic activities such as energy production, digestion, and hormone synthesis. Most of these wastes are by-products of the air we breathe and the food we eat.

These toxins slow down our metabolism, decrease the ability to burn fat and reduce the satiety response time i.e. the time it takes for us to feel full. All these result in various diseases like diabetes, high cholesterol, blood pressure, obesity, fatty liver, and other chronic diseases.

Also Read: Prebiotics and Fibers: How They Affect Your Digestive Health


Specifically, our five organs and two body fluids are involved in detoxification and cleansing. These are as follows:

  1. Lungs- the lungs remove toxins with every exhalation (breathing out air). The chief among these is carbon dioxide, a by-product of respiration, the body’s release of energy. The lining of mucus and cilia ( small hairs that capture air-born particles) helps prevent toxins from entering the body.
  2. Liver- a major organ of elimination, the liver serves as the manager of the entire detoxification process in the body.
  3. Colon- the colon is the final place in the body where waste (food residue) travels before being eliminated daily.
  4. Kidneys- the kidneys filter out water-soluble wastes from the blood that flows them from the liver. These wastes are then stored in the bladder before elimination through the urine.
  5. Skin- as a protective covering, it keeps toxins from entering the body. Because of its size and area, it actually eliminates more cellular wastes than the colon and kidneys combined. 
  6. Blood- the blood is the main transporting system in the body. It brings nutrients and oxygen to the cells and flushes away waste products and toxins.
  7. Lymph- lymph is a clear fluid that moves around the body in a series of vessels, parallel to veins. It is filled with immune cells called lymphocytes. Lymph delivers nutrients, collects waste, and helps destroy pathogens.


  1. Limit alcohol – the liver metabolizes more than 90% of the alcohol we consume
  2. Focus on sleep
  3. Reduce intake of sugar and processed food
  4. Drink more water
  5. Eat antioxidant-rich foods
  6. Eat foods high in pre-biotics
  7. Decrease your salt intake
  8. Stay active; exercise

Common antioxidant-rich foods

Dark chocolates, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, artichokes, red cabbage, cauliflower, beans, beets, spinach, oranges, bran, oats, broccoli, wheat, barley, leafy vegetables

Common pre-biotic foods (fiber-rich foods)

Vegetables- beets, bell pepper, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, cucumbers, radish, garlic, onion, mushroom, sweet potatoes, artichokes

Fruits- apples, avocado, bananas, berries, cherries, kiwi, mango, olives, pears, tomatoes, dried foods (dates, figs, raisins)

Other sources- chia seeds, flax seeds, dark chocolate, ginger root, hemp seeds, honey, psyllium, legumes (lentils, red kidney beans, soy beans, chickpeas), pumpkin seeds, cereals (oats, wheat pasta, barley), wheat bread, wheat bran, rye bread

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