There seems to be many products on the market which promise a “detox” or to detoxify your body.


This is such a trending topic at the moment. Simply put, “detox” means to rid the body of harmful substances (toxins). These toxins can be external (air pollution, smoking or alcohol) or internal by-products of metabolism. The prolonged presence of these toxic products in the body can have damaging effects.

There are so many supplements (and FAD diets) in the market today which promise quick fixes and whole-body detoxification… Are these products really necessary or are marketing schemes getting the better of you? Anything promising a quick fix should already be a red flag.

Let us look at the evidence.

The human body has its own highly efficient, unbelievably effective, built-in detoxifying organ, the liver. Not only this, but the body also has a host of other built in detoxifying metabolic systems. Majority, (75%) of the body’s detoxification happens in the liver, and the large remainder in the intestines or the human GIT.

I have heard that people juice spinach and celery to try and detoxify their bodies. Is there any evidence to prove that foods can detoxify our body?

There are many beliefs that foods have certain “super” properties. Celery juicing is one of these, apple cider vinegar is another, but these food FAD trends are another topic for another day…

There is, however, demonstrated evidence that certain phytochemicals in foods can enhance this natural built-in detoxification in the body. One of these phytochemicals is called sulforaphane, which is naturally found in cruciferous vegetables. Cruciferous vegetables are those vegetables of the cabbage family and include broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, radish, turnips, and bok choy. Organosulfur compounds found in onions and garlic, also act as catalysts for our natural detoxification pathways.

Another example of detoxification enhancers are prebiotics and probiotics.

Probiotics are living microorganisms (healthy bacteria and yeasts) that increase the healthy beneficial bacteria in your gut microbiome (if consumed in sufficient quantities). They are found naturally in fermented food products like yoghurt and sauerkraut and also in supplements.

Prebiotics are what we call functional foods. They are contained within certain foods. Prebiotics are the indigestible starch components of certain foods which stimulate the growth of healthy gut bacteria. They are fermented by our healthy gut bacteria, or “food” for your gut. Food sources of prebiotics include bananas, wholegrains, high fibre foods, artichokes, wheat bran, oats, apples, soybeans, legumes, barley, onions, and garlic.

Fifty percent of the body’s lymphoid tissue (which is the medical term for the tissue responsible for immunity) is actually located within the gut (and in the human intestines). And so, it would make sense that the compounds (such as sulforaphane, organosulfur compounds, pro and prebiotics) are found in foodstuffs which we consume, and which travel in the gut. This pathway is thus appropriate because they enhance the local detoxification processes situated in the gut. They essentially “feed” this lymphoid tissue.

To summarize detoxification, we would just like to remind you that in fact, the human body has its own built in detoxifying mechanisms, and that supplements/”superfoods”/magical detoxifying juices which promise to detoxify your body are not necessary.

There are certain compounds in foods which can enhance our natural detoxifying mechanisms however, and these foods are encouraged and should be included in your diet. It is beneficial to consume these foods on a daily and weekly basis in a balanced, varied dietary pattern, to boost your natural detoxification mechanisms.