RSSPractical tips for cleansing and detoxification

Posted on Mon, 9 Nov 09

Practical tips for cleansing and detoxification

Environmental pollutants are widespread though our environment including in the food we eat, the air we breathe, and the water we drink. Minimising exposure and improving your body’s ability to detoxify is an important step towards reducing the effects of these chemicals and improving your health.

Your health is an environmental issue

Common pollutants include heavy metals, industrial chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, and food additives. These pollutants, even at very low levels of exposure, have been linked to a number of serious health concerns; heart disease, weight gain, type-2 diabetes, certain cancers, endometriosis, autoimmune disease, cognitive and behavioural disorders, dementia, and chronic fatigue (1-8).

Tips for minimising exposure to environmental pollutants

  • Choose organic foods to reduce exposure to chemicals used in conventional food production such as antibiotics, hormones, pesticides, fungicides and herbicides (9).

  • Filter drinking water to reduce exposure to contaminants that may be present even after water has been treated (10).

  • Ensure good air quality by monitoring carbon monoxide levels if you have a heating system, using an ionizer or air filter to reduce dust and moulds and considering indoor plants as they purify the air (11).

  • Avoid exposure to household products and cosmetics that contain toxic chemicals including aluminium containing antiperspirants and lead based lipsticks (12).

  • Reduce your exposure to heavy metals such as mercury from fish, aluminium from pots and pans, lead from paint and cadmium from cigarette smoke.

Tips for improving detoxification and elimination of pollutants

  • Eat a predominantly plant based diet rich in fruits and vegetables as these foods are high in nutrients that support and improve detoxification (13-15).

  • Brassica vegetables (cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower etc) are particularly good promoters of detoxification, aim to consume about a cup per day (16).

  • Improve elimination through your kidneys by drinking approximately 1.5-2 litres (6-8 glasses) of water a day (17).

  • A high fibre intake from foods such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits and nuts encourages regular bowel movements and the elimination of detoxified waste (18).

  • Use herbs and spices, particularly turmeric, rosemary and garlic, in food and cooking as they may enhance detoxification (19).

  • Sweating regularly through saunas, infrared saunas, stream rooms or exercise may improve elimination of toxins through your skin (20).

  • Consume foods rich in the green pigment chlorophyll such as dark green leafy vegetables and the super foods chlorella or spirulina as they may assist toxin removal (21).

  • Consider supplementing your diet with the herb milk thistle to support liver detoxification at a dose equivalent of 200-400mg of silymarin per day (silymarin is the active ingredient found in the herb) (22).

  • A probiotic supplement may improve elimination as well as reduce the production of toxic compounds in your digestive system (23).

Coming clean

Although efforts, such as the Stockholm Convention (24), are being made internationally to reduce the production and contamination of the environment with toxic pollutants the long life of these chemicals ensures they will remain a threat to human health for generations to come. There is however accumulating evidence to suggest you can minimise their effects with simple dietary and lifestyle behaviours that reduce exposure and increase their detoxification and elimination.


1. Grun F, Blumberg B. Perturbed nuclear receptor signaling by environmental obesogens as emerging factors in the obesity crisis. Rev Endocr Metab Disord. 2007 Jun;8(2):161-71.

2.  Carpenter DO. Environmental contaminants as risk factors for developing diabetes. Rev Environ Health. 2008 Jan-Mar;23(1):59-74

3. DeBruin LS et al. Perspectives on the chemical aetiology of breast cancer. Environ Health Perspect. 2002 February; 110(Suppl 1): 119–128.

4. Rier S, Foster WG. Environmental dioxins and endometriosis. Toxicol Sci. 2002  Dec;70(2):161-70.

5. Cooper GS et al. Occupational risk factors for the development of systemic lupus erythematosus. J Rheumatol. 2004 Oct;31(10):1928-33.

6. Torrente M et al. Metal concentrations in hair and cognitive assessment in an adolescent population. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2005 Jun;104(3):215-21.

7. Campbell A et al. Chronic exposure to aluminum in drinking water increases inflammatory parameters selectively in the brain. J Neurosci Res. 2004 Feb 15;75(4):565-72.

8. Dunstan RH et al.  A preliminary investigation of chlorinated hydrocarbons and chronic fatigue syndrome. Med J Aust. 1995 Sep 18;163(6):294-7.

9. Cohen M. Environmental toxins and health--the health impact of pesticides. Aust Fam Physician. 2007 Dec;36(12):1002-4.

10. Stackelberg PE, Furlong ET, Meyer MT, Zaugg SD, Henderson AK, Reissman DB. Persistence of pharmaceutical compounds and other organic wastewater contaminants in a conventional drinking-water-treatment plant. Sci Total Environ. 2004 Aug 15;329(1-3):99-113.

11. B. C. Wolverton, Anne Johnson, and Keith Bounds, "Interior Landscape Plants for Indoor Air Pollution Abatement, Final Report — September 15, 1989." Stennis Space Center, Mississippi: National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Contact: NASA, John C. Stennis Space Center, Science and Technology Laboratory, Stennis Space Center, MS 39529-6000.

12. Dabre PD. Aluminium, antiperspirants and breast cancer. J Inorg Biochem. 2005 Sep;99(9):1912-9.

13. Furst A. Can nutrition affect chemical toxicity? Int J Toxicol. 2002. Sep-Oct;21(5):419-24.

14. Liska DJ. The detoxification enzyme systems. Altern Med Rev. 1998. Jun;3(3):187-98.

15. Lampe JW. Health effects of vegetables and fruit: assessing mechanisms of action in human experimental studies. Am J Clin Nutr. 1999 Sep;70(3 Suppl):475S-490S.

16. Lampe JW, Peterson S. Brassica, biotransformation and cancer risk: genetic npolymorphisms alter the preventive effects of cruciferous vegetables. J Nutr. 2002 Oct;132(10):2991-4.

17. Jéquier E, Constant F. Water as an essential nutrient: the physiological basis of hydration. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2009 Sep 2. [Epub ahead of print]

18. Lim CC, Ferguson LR, Tannock GW. Dietary fibres as "prebiotics": implications  for colorectal cancer. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2005 Jun;49(6):609-19.

19. Kaefer CM, Milner JA. The role of herbs and spices in cancer prevention. J Nutr Biochem. 2008 Jun;19(6):347-61.

20. Kop J. Chemical sensitivity after intoxication at work with solvents: response to sauna therapy. J Altern Complement Med. 1998;4(1):77-86.

21. Nakano S et al. Chlorella (Chlorella pyrenoidosa) supplementation decreases dioxin and increases immunoglobulin a concentrations in breast milk. J Med Food. 2007 Mar;10(1):134-42.

23. Sanders ME, Klaenhammer TR. Invited review: the scientific basis of Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM functionality as a probiotic. J Dairy Sci. 2001 Feb;84(2):319-31.

24. Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.

Tags: Detoxification, Cleansing, Environmental Pollutants, Toxins

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