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Do I need to Detox?



I often describe detoxification as the healthy metabolism of toxins. From a nutritional therapist’s perspective, detoxification is about eliminating toxins and nourishing the body with healthy nutrients. This blog post will cover the basics of why we need detoxification and how to get it!


Why do we need detoxification?

Without realising it, we are all exposed to a wide variety of toxins every day.  Some are naturally part of our diet, environment, and our fast-paced lifestyle. We often face personal stress, environmental pollution, physical exertion, and a few negative habits such as alcohol and processed foods etc. We are also exposed to man-made toxins which include chemicals, food additives and drugs.

The cumulation of these toxins affects the body’s metabolism and can result in issues such as:

  • nausea and indigestion,
  • weight gain,
  • skin disorders such as acne, eczema and psoriasis, and age spots,
  • impaired immune function,
  • low energy levels, lethargy and fatigue,
  • poor concentration,
  • bloating and menstrual problems,
  • headaches and confusion,
  • muscle and joint pain,
  • regular infections.


What symptoms should I look out for? 

Our bodies can give us indications when our liver is functioning poorly and when we need detoxification and cleansing from toxins. If you notice yellowing of the whites of the eyes or yellow-looking skin, it may be a sign your liver is not functioning well. If you suffer from fever, nausea or have difficulty digesting fatty food, you may have too many toxins in your body. If you have increased sensitivity to cigarette smoke, strong perfume, petrol and other chemicals, this is also an indication that you need to look after your liver!


How does detoxification work?

Thankfully, our liver works with our intestine, kidneys, lungs, skin and blood to ensure that toxins are transformed into less harmful substances. We are continually excreting toxins from our body via urine, stools, sweat and normal breathing processes. Incidentally, this is why it is essential to prevent constipation. The stool is loaded with toxins and since blood goes from the bowel to the liver, constipation causes the liver to overwork. I have got a great green smoothie recipe which is helpful for relieving constipation and boosting liver function. 

We also have specific enzymes in our bodies to allow our bodies to cope with the onslaught of toxins! These specific enzymes promote clearance and the balance of enzymes determines the efficiency of detoxification. Amazingly, through good diet, healthy lifestyle and the right supplements, the liver can regenerate itself…which means you can have an optimally functioning liver at any age!


Which foods help eliminate toxins?

Nutrients, such as proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, found in our food, have been demonstrated to assist clearance. A detox food plan would include food that are high in nutrients. Think of colourful fruits, a rainbow of vegetables, beans and lentils, nuts and oats. Think also of a Mediterranean diet rather than McDonalds!

Foods that are particularly good for the liver include berries, cruciferous vegetable, globe artichokes, radicchio, pears, celeriac, beetroot and sulphur rich foods (e.g. onions and garlic). Try to reduce milk, cheese, cream, processed and red meat products…and of course unhealthy fats, sugar, alcohol and processed foods! Try to keep eggs to two per week if you think you have liver problems.

Herbs such as ginger, milk thistle, cilantro, watercress, wormwood, mint, horseradish, sorrel, radish, parsley, dandelion, coriander, garlic and turmeric are especially good for liver health. Though I would include a word of warning about coriander. This herb is particularly good at binding to toxic metals, so unfortunately, they also pick up toxins from the soil they are grown in. You might like to make sure you eat organic coriander…or even try to grow your own!

Healthy drinks should also be high on your list for reducing toxins in your body. A great recipe for fresh juices that promote liver and kidney health would include spinach, celery, cucumber, lemon, beetroot and ginger. Other drinks such as green tea, coconut water and Aloe Vera juice are also beneficial.

All these foods and drinks give the protein, amino acids, unsaturated fats, fibre, vitamins and minerals we need to support a strong immune system. Remember we are aiming to reduce toxic exposure while simultaneously enhancing immunity!


Other forms of detoxification

If you feel like you need a more intense detox, you might like to try other ways of helping the body’s natural cleansing processes:

  • Intermittent fasting. This is an excellent way of resting the organs so your body can concentrate on the process of detoxification.
  • Stimulating the liver. You might like to consider coffee enemas or increase your intake of herbs such as dandelion root, burdock, and milk thistle.
  • Improving circulation of the blood. Don’t underestimate the importance of dry skin brushing, saunas, exercise and deep breathing for increasing circulation and elimination of toxins from the blood! You might also like to try Epsom salt baths and oil pulling.
  • Reducing stress. Stress hormones slow down detoxification enzymes in the liver, so reducing stress plays an important role in helping the body cleanse and regenerate itself. You might also like to try this simple trick: Take a hot shower for five minutes. Follow with cold water for 30 seconds. Do this three times, and then rest in a warm place for 30 minutes.
  • Eliminate toxins from your home and environment. These include cleaning products, skin products, and plastics – the list goes on and on. A good resource is Healthy House, which has lots of helpful information.


As an experienced Nutritional Therapist trained in the biochemistry of these enzymes, I can provide personalised recommendations that will optimise their function and support your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. Remember to consult your doctor if you have a serious medical condition or are taking any medications.

Every blessing, Emma


Emma Maitland-Carew – Registered Nutritional Therapist

Dip.ION, mBANT, CHNC Registered Practitioner,

Metabolic Balance® Coach, HeartMath Coach.




Park DV (1991) Nutritional requirements for detoxification of environmental chemicals. Food Additives & Contaminants, 8(3):281-96


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