detoxification enzymes

What Your Body REALLY Needs to Detox

In addition to people starting new exercise routines and diets this time of year, another common occurrence is popularity of “detox diets.” The word detox is used in so many different contexts and represents such a diversity of recommendations that it’s difficult to nail down one over-arching definition.

According to an article in Food and Nutrition magazine, published by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, detoxification from a scientific perspective is “the biochemical process that transforms non-water-soluble toxins and metabolites into water-soluble compounds that can be excreted” (2012).

Unfortunately, there are so many fad diets advertising various “detox cleanses,” that the true meaning of this word has become lost in translation.

Detoxification Enzymes

Enzymes in the liver are responsible for converting fat-soluble toxins into water-soluble particles that can leave the body via sweat, urine, etc. There are essential nutrients required from the diet to keep these enzymes functioning properly so they can adequately dispose of toxins in the body before they build up and cause harm.

Nutrients of particular importance are B vitamins, certain amino acids (such as glycine), and antioxidants in plants (such as glutathione) (Schaeffer, 2014). In light of this, there are specific nutrients you should consume regularly to keep your body’s detoxification system up and running.

Include the following nutrients as often as possible to support the detoxification enzymes in your body:

  • Fruits and vegetables- contain many important sources of antioxidants
  • Water-necessary for proper urinary excretion and bowel motility to dispose of toxins
  • Eggs, onion, and garlic-high in sulfur, which supports the production of glutathione. Eggs are also a good source of glycine.
  • Green tea- known for its high antioxidant activity
  • Probiotics (found in yogurt and fermented foods)- protect the intestines from harmful bacteria
  • Fibrous foods (nuts, seeds, whole grains, and more!)- can bind to toxins in the body so they will be excreted. Whole grains are also good sources of B vitamins. (Foroutan, 2012)

*If you are considering starting a detox diet, always check with your physician or a registered dietitian to ensure the program you are following is safe.

References

Foroutan, R. (2012). Defining detox: reclaiming one of the most divisive words in dietetics. Food and Nutrition. Retrieved from: http://www.foodandnutrition.org/Summer-2012/Defining-Detox-Reclaiming-one-of-the-most-divisive-words-in-dietetics/

Schaeffer, J. (2014). Diet and detoxification. Today’s dietitian, 16(3), 34-39.

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