Detoxification: How It Works and Why It’s Important

heart-healthy diet

Written by Sue Ward, MS, CCN, nutritionist and health educator at Sanoviv Medical Institute

Do you want to feel as energetic and alive as possible each day? Most would answer “yes,” however, many of us are in poor health and don’t even realize it. We often accept low energy, unwanted body fat, constipation, a weakened immune system, and an unhealthy physical appearance as “part of life.” If you are ready to improve your health and longevity, it’s important to first understand how toxins affect us and then learn some simple things you can do to help your body reduce and eliminate them.

Detoxification is the process by which our bodies filter and remove harmful substances (toxins). We must process internal toxins or those created by normal daily metabolism (digestion, energy production, hormone synthesis) and external toxins, such as those we take in from the world around us including heavy metals like lead or arsenic. Our bodies are continually eliminating toxins through our skin, urine, feces, and lungs.

Potentially toxic substances need to be processed and eliminated from the body. The liver is the organ that does most of the work in converting these substances to forms that can leave the body either through bile or through the filtration system of the kidneys. But the liver doesn’t act alone. The kidneys are also key players in the latter stages of breaking down these compounds

There are two main phases of liver detoxification. In phase one, compounds are converted to forms that will dissolve more easily in water. In phase two, the toxic compounds go through a series of reactions to help make them less toxic and easier to excrete. It is important that adequate nutrients are available to make this process work at top efficiency.

In addition to supporting the body’s detoxification systems with a healthy diet, environmental toxins should be avoided through sensible lifestyle choices. Here are six simple things you can do:

  1. Strive to eat a whole food diet. This means eating foods that are close to their natural state and avoiding highly processed food products that include additives, preservatives, and artificial sweeteners. Eating at least one whole food meal daily is a great start.
  2. Reduce personal exposure to toxins in your home environment and replace with non-toxic alternatives when possible. Household cleaners, insecticides, and mold are some examples potentially harmful household chemicals. Look to reduce your biggest sources of exposure.
  3. Increase your intake of foods that may help support liver health such as artichoke, avocado, dandelion greens, garlic, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, lemons and limes, apples and mushrooms (shitake, reishi, maitake).
  4. Increase fiber in your diet by adding plenty of vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds.
  5. Drink plenty of water daily from a glass or stainless steel water bottle (avoid plastic).
  6. Nutritional supplementation that includes milk thistle may help support some of the liver’s functions.

Take these steps to put your body on the path to better health. Once you do, you will find your body in a more balanced healthy state.


Sue Ward, MS, CCN, is a nutritionist and health educator at Sanoviv Medical Institute. Located in beautiful Rosarito Beach, Mexico, Sanoviv is a fully licensed hospital that offers a unique blend of conventional, alternative, and integrative programs to help maintain good health and treat a wide range of diseases.