Nutritional Detoxification for Health and Wellness

8 Tips to Detox with Food

Alarmingly, every year an estimated four billion pounds of chemical compounds and pollutants from plastics, pesticides, solvents, heavy metals, medications and other sources are released into the environment and eventually find their way into our air, soil, and food and water supplies. It’s not a question of if our bodies are exposed to these toxins, but rather how much, and to what extent they are impacting our health.

Under ideal circumstances, our bodies have the ability to rid themselves of harmful pollutants and protect against their effects through a built-in detoxification system — our liver, digestive tract, skin, kidneys and lungs.

However, in certain situations the sheer volume of exposure on a daily basis can overwhelm these natural processes, allowing harmful substances to accumulate in tissue.  When our diets are unhealthy and lack the necessary nutrients to support optimal metabolic detoxification, chronic health issues may be the result.

Are you toxic?

Symptoms of toxin overload and a less than optimized ability to detoxify may include:

  •     Fatigue
  •     Muscle pain or Stiffness
  •      Difficulty concentrating or Brain fog
  •     Irritability and mood swings
  •    Difficulty sleeping
  •   Persistent bloating or weight gain
  •   Poor digestion
  •    Frequent headaches
  •  Recurrent infection or allergies
  •     General lack of well-being

Nutrition Tips for Healthy Detox

The good news is that we can aid the body’s natural detoxification processes without going to extremes. Our first line of defence is the food we eat. Here are some tips to help detox using delicious, nutritious foods.

1) Eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.

Choose a rainbow of colours — rich in green, red, orange, purple, and yellow fruits and (mostly) vegetables.

Aim for a minimum of five (half cup) servings of vegetables and fruit daily.

Green vegetables, especially those of the Brassica family (including broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and kale) have high chlorophyll content, in addition to other compounds that aid in liver function to improve the body’s ability to clear toxic chemicals. Other excellent choices include avocado, collard greens and asparagus.

2) Choose organic produce wherever possible.

Unfortunately, not all the pesticides used to kill bugs, grubs and/or fungus on our conventionally farmed fruits and veggies wash off under the tap at home. Opt for organic fruits and vegetables, particularly in certain varieties known to contain higher levels of pesticide residues, such as:

  • bell peppers
  • kale
  • potatoes
  • spinach
  • apples
  • blueberries
  • cherries
  • grapes
  • nectarines
  • peaches
  • strawberries

When organic produce is not available, use a natural fruit and veggie wash to remove any pesticides, waxes, and chemicals, rinsing thoroughly.  Peel to remove skins where possible.

3) Add herbs and spices to your recipes.

Many herbs and spices, including turmeric (curcumin), ginger and cilantro (coriander), have anti-inflammatory, liver cleansing and many other healing properties.

4) Include sufficient lean proteins in your diet.

A diet with a sufficient amount of lean protein is beneficial in clearing chemical toxins more rapidly from the bloodstream.  Choose lean cuts of meat and foul, ideally organically raised or game meats. Include more vegetable protein sources such as legumes, beans, peas, lentils, nuts and seeds.

5) Eat the right fish — in moderation.

Including fish in the diet is a healthy option, provided that they’re not loaded with mercury and other heavy metals.

Fish should be consumed once or twice weekly and be wild caught whenever possible or farmed fish which use ethical organic practices from open running cold water methods. Fish high in mercury (such as:

Shark, swordfish, king mackerel, Grouper, all varieties of tuna, orange roughy, marlin, Chilean sea bass, halibut, snapper, sablefish, striped bass (wild), Tilefish should be avoided,

6) Focus on the health non-processed grains.

Select grains that have low allergenic potential and a high nutrient profile.  This includes gluten free grains such as buckwheat or kasha, millet, quinoa, brown rice, arrowroot, amaranth and some oats.

7) Drink lots of pure water.

Ensure you are drinking plenty of pure water throughout the day to enhance detoxification. Flush your system by drinking a minimum of six to eight glasses of purified or mineral water each day (ideally 5-6 percent of your body weight).  Add lime, berries or a sprig of fresh mint leaves to infuse flavour.  And squeeze the juice of half an organic lemon into a glass of water first thing in the morning to boost your immune system, aid digestion throughout the day and stimulate liver enzymes to help flush toxins.

8) Support your nutrition detox with other healthy practices.

In addition to this nutritional approach to detoxification, be sure to avoid chemical-laden skin, hair and body products. There are a number of ways to mobilize toxins out of the skin, including salt and soda baths, vinegar baths, dry skin brushing and infrared saunas.

As well take steps where possible to maintain a healthy workplace and home environment, by minimizing environmental pollutants and toxins.

The keys to vitality are a clean body and active mind.  Physical activity, sleep and adequate stress reduction are important to the success of any detoxification program.  Take some time to listen to music, dance or sing, breathe deeply, write in a journal, have a good laugh, and ultimately live with joy and intention.

In some cases, assessment and more intensive treatment using chelation therapy may be indicated. Only a qualified health practitioner can advise you on this based on your specific needs.

Our naturopath in Binbrook and Burlington specializes in the assessment of toxic load in the body, as well as treatment for elevated heavy metals and impaired detoxification, using nutrition and other natural therapies, including IV therapy.


Clean, Green & Lean. Dr. Walter Crinnion; 2010.

Clinical Breakthroughs in the Toxicity-Disease Connection. Dr. Jeffrey Bland, 2011.

Slow Death By Rubber Duck. Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie; 2010.

The New Dirty Dozen: 12 foods to eat organic and avoid pesticide residue. Dan Shapley, April 2014.