Foods, herbs and spices that detoxify your body

For decades we were told by the mainstream medical community that there was no such thing as toxicity build up in our bodies or cells…

They just didn’t believe it and went to great lengths to ridicule those who claimed otherwise. The reason was partly because they didn’t have a controlled substance that would detoxify the body.

The other reason? Science had not yet proven that the body goes through two elaborate detoxification pathways on a daily basis mostly while you are asleep.

With the myriad of toxins you’re exposed to in modern society, you’re faced with an increasing burden of unnatural substances that invade your body from pesticides, herbicides and fungicides to air and water pollution, mercury, arsenic and other heavy metals in our food, and the list goes on.

These toxins are stored in your body in a number of ways and can lead to disease. If your goal is to maintain any level of healthy lifestyle, it’s time to consider supporting your body in its ability to detox daily…


As toxins go, there are two types… those created inside of us from what we eat (end products of metabolism) or as bacteria grow. These are both examples of endotoxins.

The other type comes in from the outside  exotoxins like drugs (including prescription pharmaceuticals and over-the-counter) and agricultural chemicals, food additives, household pollutants, contaminants and microbial byproducts.

The upper portion of your gut (stomach and small intestine) is very busy allowing or disallowing foods or foreign substances to cross into your blood stream. This requires a healthy gut, which in turn requires healthy choices when you eat or drink.

Some toxins are stored in your adipose tissue (fatty tissue) and contribute to increased toxic load. These non-polar, fat-soluble toxins are only released when the gut is healthy, the detox pathways are functioning and the visceral fat is released to be used as energy. This requires a series of events to make this happen including a good diet and regular exercise.

Two phases of detoxification

Toxins are eliminated via Phase I Detoxification Intermediaries (Cytochrome P450 enzymes) and Phase II Conjugation Pathways.

In the first phase, detoxification is facilitated with the help of your gall bladder, liver, kidneys, spleen, lymph system and blood.

Specific nutrients are also integral to this phase and include: vitamins B2, B3, B6, B9 and B12, phospholipids and flavonoids.

Let’s talk about the B vitamins first…

As much as 50 percent of us have trouble metabolizing folate and B vitamins from the foods we eat and may not even know it. That can hinder your detoxification process and lead to other problems as well. If you’r doctor suspect this, he’ll recommend MTHFR gene mutation test.

If you test positive, you may significantly benefit from using Methylated B9 (Methylfolate) and methylated B12 (Methylcobalamin). These are not very expensive and make a world of difference for those who have one or more MTHFR gene mutations. It’s important to test first, as there are some negative side-effects for some who do not have a gene mutation and take methylated B vitamins.

Phospholipids especially phosphatidylcholine (PC). Consider that at birth up to 90 percent of cellular membranes are made up of PC. As humans age, the percentage of PC in their cellular membranes can decrease to about 10 percent. This is why many supplement for life with this essential phospholipid. Phospholipid membranes provide protection from chemicals and pathogens that mess with the necessary life functions that take place within each cell. These membranes are subject to constant attack from free radicals (oxidants), pathogens, and toxins.

One of the most common sources of phospholipids is lecithin, which appears naturally in foods like egg yolks, soy beans, sunflower seeds and rapeseeds.

Flavonoids are very important in the detox process. One particular flavoniod, phlorizidin, found in apples, helps your body produce bile.  Here is a good chart for the best foods sources of flavonoids by their five subgroups:

Flavonols Flavan-3-ols Flavones Flavonones Anthocyanidins
Onions Apples Parsley Oranges Blueberries
Apples Bananas Bell peppers Grapefruit Bananas
Romaine lettuce Blueberries Celery Lemons Strawberries
Tomatoes Peaches Apples Tomatoes Cherries
Garbanzo beans Pears Oranges Pears
Almonds Strawberries Watermelon Cabbage
Turnip greens Chili peppers Cranberries
Sweet potatoes Cantaloupe Plums
Quinoa Lettuce Raspberries

In the second phase, the liver works other substances that can help make a toxin water-soluble so it can be flushed out of the body. This is what we call the conjugation pathways phase.

The nutrients used in this phase include: sulfate, glutathione (from glycine, glutamate, n-acetylcysteine), cysteine, methionine, glucuronic acid, folic acid and B12. Also protective vitamins and plant derivatives include: carotenes (vitamin A), ascorbic acid (vitamin C), calcium ascorbate, tocopherols (vitamin E from mixed tocopherols or tocotrienols. Minerals include: selenium , copper, zinc, manganese, iron and magnesium.

Herbs and spices that can be helpful for this detox phase include:

  • Kudzu  great for detoxifying the liver can be found online from Swanson’s: 500 mg 60 capsules for only $2.00.
  • Silymarin (milk thistle) great also for detoxifying the liver.
  • Green tea (catechins) high content of EGCG’s (an antioxidant). Great for detox daily.
  • Turmeric (curcumin)  use with black pepper and coconut oil to optimize benefits.
  • Cruciferous vegetables (glucosinolates) like broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, garlic and onions. Use them daily.
  • Red grapes and Spanish peanuts (resveratrol in the skins in both)
  • Watercress and pomegranate (ellagic acid)
  • Eggs (Sulfate), whey (complete protein), fish (omega-3 oils, protein)
  • Hops (humulones) and dandelion leaf root powder  very inexpensive. Just use two pinches each evening in food or in tea. The dandelion is a cancer-fighting green.
  • Cilantro, parsley, alfalfa, chlorella (a blue-green algae) are extremely powerful chemical and heavy metal chelators. You can juice these, include them in salads, and/or mix powdered forms (especially chlorella up to 1 Tbs/day) into water or smoothie for a quick and effective dose.

Supplements that assist with detox include: I3C (indole-3 carbinol), sulforaphane and CoQ10.



Dr. Brad Cutler

By Dr. Brad Cutler

With over 30 years of clinical nutrition experience, Dr Brad Cutler has been a well-respected authority in digestive health, nutrition and natural anti-aging protocols. In 2014 Brad certified in Functional Medicine. His life is all about health, fitness, and what works nutritionally in the body. He coaches individuals in essential lifestyle principles as a part of his ongoing functional medicine practice. Brad’s mission is to inspire others to purposefully create thoughts and emotions that support wise food choices and lifestyle changes that improve health. Individual focus may include balance of digestion, detoxification, immunity, hormones, cardio-metabolic health, cognitive function and mood.

Brad may be reached for Health Coaching at