Detoxing: a Holistic Dietitian’s Perspective.

Ahh Spring (welcome!). The season when noble citizens emerge from hibernation and prepare for Summer; a time where its not uncommon for individuals to start considering diet and lifestyle changes.

One word that gets thrown around is: “Detox”. If you’re interested to know what a Holistic Dietitian thinks about Detoxes, then read on. NOTE: I do not recommend juice cleanses.


Some health professionals (including Dietitians) slander detox routines, adamant in their ego-driven views that as long as we have a functioning Liver and pair of kidneys, detox cleanses are therefore a waste of time and money. Now I thought the exact same way after graduating. Hard to blame this mindset when that’s what you learnt at University. However, in my 4.5 years of qualified tertiary education, not once, have we learnt the three phases of Liver detoxification.

That’s right. There are three.

Detoxification Phases (bare with me while I run through technical references)

Phase I- Oxidation Reactions

Cytochrome P450 enzymes changes toxins into water soluble molecules so they can used in Phase II. This reaction can create reactive oxygen species (free radicals).

Nutrients: B Vitamins, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, zinc, Magnesium, Molybdenum, Selenium, Manganese Herbs: Milk thistle, Curcumin, Broccoli sprouts, Rosemary, Chlorella, Schisandra,

Phase II- Conjugation Pathways

Involves binding fat soluble substances with water-soluble molecules , which deactivate the toxin from Phase I so they can be excreted from the body. Phase II pathways help detoxify toxic metabolites such as oestrogen, xeno estrogens, plastics and pollutants.

Nutrients: N-Acetyl Cysteine, zinc, folate, SAMe, TMG, calcium D-glucarate, cysteine, glycine, glutamine (glutathione), taurine. Lipoic acid, sulphur Herbs: Parsley, Milk Thistle

Phase III-Transportation and Elimination

Involves the transport of ‘packaged’ toxins for elimination via bile. Some toxins are sent to Gallbladder for storage, while the rest is eliminated in stools, or released from tissues into blood and removed via kidneys and bladder as urine.

Nutrients: Magnesium, Glutathione, Broccoli Sprouts, Herbs: Globe artichoke, Milk Thistle, Coriander, Barley rass, Apple pectin


Signs of poor Liver Detoxification:

· Skin conditions, breakouts, dull skin, rashes · Fatigue

· Irritability, mood changes · Headaches · Difficulty losing weight · Bloating, constipation, change in bowel habits

· Food cravings

· Dependence on caffeine and/or alcohol


Its naïve to think our Liver and Kidneys are completely capable in performing their detoxification function without support. Diet and lifestyle choices, including our inherited genetic variations, can affect organ function. Its important to not neglect preventative health measures by avoiding toxin exposure, and support our body’s natural detoxification processes.


If you’re Human you’d likely come across the following list of toxins. These can accumulate due to the overburdened detoxification pathways:

· Alcohol

· Drugs and medications

· Cigarette smoke

· Caffeine

· Preservatives and additives

· Pesticides

· Micro-organisms

·Heavy metals


Detox cleanses may involve

-Intermittent Fasting – great if done right! People are constantly grazing and even eat when they’re not hungry (Desensitised hunger-cues)

-Increasing fruit and vegetable consumption via juice or whole – we don’t consume enough antioxidants and polyphenols to protect our hard working cells ( However I don’t recommend juice cleanses, due to limited supportive research. We have daily protein requirements to meet, where just having juices just won’t cut it)

-Increasing water intake – essential for your organs to perform optimally, to remove waste products

– Use of evidenced-based herbs and nutrients – to support all three Phases of Liver detoxification pathways

NOTE: The initial “weight loss” during detoxes is due to loss of water and glycogen stores. This generally returns once a person resumes regular eating. Although people claim they feel better after a cleanse, may be due to removing processed foods and increasing micronutrient rich foods. A good way to jump into sustainable healthy change.

If you have doubts about detox programs, you have every right to be sceptical. BUT do not group them all together. Some programs are downright ridiculous and not evidenced-based.

However, when supported in a clinical setting with a qualified health professional, using evidenced-based ‘Practioner Only’ supplements, herbs and gentle colon cleanses; patients get the “Cleanse” they’re looking for.

TIPs to support your detox pathways:

– Avoid processed and packaged food and alcohol

– Incorporate plenty of fresh vegetables; especially from the cruciferous family

– Regular sweating with exercise and sauna

– Increase water intake

– Getting quality sleep

– Seek advice from a qualified healthcare practitioner to tailor dietary intake for optimal organ function

For more information on how to support your own Liver health, get in touch!

Until next time,

Bonny. C ~








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