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Five Foods – How They Promote Detox, How to Optimize Their Effect

Detoxification is an essential part12 of12 any healthful lifestyle, and a treasure trove of support comes from natural food sources. Not surprisingly, when I researched the most common detox foods, they are virtually all from the plant kingdom—fruits, vegetables, and herbs.  

Foods promote detox in various ways. For example, their nutrition supports the health of the main detox organs—the liver, kidneys, skin, lungs, gastrointestinal system and lymph system—and detox pathways.  Healthy foods also support the immune system, which in turn, strengthens the body’s ability to detox. And some foods directly remove toxins from the body, as in heavy metal chelation.   

Here are five detox foods and important insights on how to best utilize their potential.


Garlic has a wealth of health benefits. Among them is the ability to detoxify heavy metals. There is some research that points to garlic’s ability to remove heavy metals from the body. In one study, rats ingested drinking water laced with mercury, cadmium, and lead. Garlic extract was able to help remove varying amounts of the accumulation of these three metals in the rats’ livers.1 In another study, garlic extract was as effective (without the side effects) as a prescription drug in treating chronic lead poisoning in workers in the car battery industry.2

The bioactive ingredients in garlic are sulfur compounds: the major one being allicin. Now, there is a tricky aspect to utilizing its benefits. Allicin is not found in a raw whole clove. It is formed by the interaction of an enzyme (allinase) and an amino acid (allin) when the garlic is crushed, chopped, or chewed. There are many ways to incorporate garlic into your diet. Raw garlic is excellent as an ingredient in salad dressings. If you want to enjoy garlic as an ingredient in cooking, you can crush or chop it and let it stand for about 10 minutes to allow the interaction between the enzyme and amino acid to occur before adding it to your dish. This is probably an effective way to get more allicin activity. Cooking will inhibit the enzyme but will not destroy the allicin, once it has formed.3 ,4  If you use a garlic supplement, be sure to investigate whether it offers you the benefits of allicin or use an allicin supplement.



Chlorella and Cilantro

Chlorella is a potent heavy metal detoxifier. It is a hard-shelled green algae usually sold as a supplement, often in combination with cilantro. Now, chlorella may not be prominent on your must-have  list: natural chelators arguably do not get the attention they deserve. The following is from the National Institutes of Health website:

While novel drug targets for chronic disease are eagerly sought, potentially helpful agents that aid in detoxification of toxic elements, chelators, have largely been restricted to overt acute poisoning.5 ,6 

The heavy metals lead, mercury, and cadmium, which are ubiquitous in our environment, are classified as a known, probable, and possible carcinogen, respectively. An article published on the NIH website cited several studies in which chlorella weakened the toxicity of lead and cadmium in the liver, kidneys, and brains of animals.7     

Chlorella can also remove the hormone disruptor dioxin. In one study, chlorella reduced dioxin concentrations in mothers’ breast milk.8

Cilantro is also a heavy metal chelator. Chlorella and cilantro work well in tandem and are widely available together as a supplement. Cilantro removes heavy metals from tissues and chlorella helps prevent them from being reabsorbed into the body.




Curcumin, a yellow chemical,  is the active ingredient in turmeric.  Curcumin supports the gallbladder. The gallbladder secretes bile, which cleanses and rejuvenates the liver. 

Curcumin  can be difficult for the body to assimilate due to its poor absorption, fast metabolism and quick elimination. Black pepper contains a chemical called piperine, which enhances curcumin’s bioavailability. 

Golden milk is a popular detox drink that combines turmeric, ginger, black pepper and coconut milk. If you drink it in the evening, it may help improve the quality of your sleep, as well. Warm lemon water is soothing and invigorating for the morning. Make it a low-cal detox drink combination and add fresh ground ginger  and turmeric.9 To enhance absorption, add a pinch of pepper. 



Broccoli Sprouts

Broccoli sprouts are a rich source of a chemical called sulforaphane. Sulforaphane, like allicin, is a sulfur compound. It stimulates your cells to produce enzymes that clear toxins and carcinogens from your body.  From Life Extension website:

Sulforaphane, an isothiocyanate found in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables, is among the most potent natural inducers of phase II detoxification enzymes.10

And, similarly to allicin, enzyme action releases sulforaphane when the plant is cut, chopped, or chewed. 

Sulforaphane is lost in cooking: one study found that almost 90% of the sulforaphane was lost. Since you are not likely to cook your broccoli sprouts, they are an easy and delicious way to enjoy your sulforaphane.



So, be sure to eat your veggies. The detox foods mentioned here barely scratch the surface of their healthful benefits. And if you do not already,  enhance your detox regime with the IonCleanse® by AMD. The IonCleanse® system supports regular detox pathways and opens new ones.


1. Nwokocha CR1, Owu DU, Nwokocha MI, Ufearo CS, Iwuala MO, Comparison of therapeutic effects of garlic and d-Penicillamine in patients with chronic occupational lead poisoning,, Basic Clin Pharmacol Toxicol, 2011,

2. Kianoush S1, Balali-Mood M, Mousavi SR, Moradi V, Sadeghi M, Dadpour B, Rajabi O, Shakeri MT, Comparison of therapeutic effects of garlic and d-Penicillamine in patients with chronic occupational lead poisoning,, Basic & Clinical Pharmacology & Toxicology, 2012,.

3. Susan J. Hewlings and Douglas S. Kalman, Curcumin: A Review of Its’ Effects on Human Health,, 2017,

4. Michael Greger M.D. FACLM, How can I preserve the anti-cancer effects of cooked garlic?, 2012,

5. Margaret E. Sears, Chelation: Harnessing and Enhancing Heavy Metal Detoxification—A Review,, ScientificWorldJournal. 2013,

6. Uchikawa T, Kumamoto Y, Maruyama I, Kumamoto S, Ando Y, Yasutake A., Enhanced elimination of tissue methylmercury in Parachlorella beijerinckii-fed mice,, The Journal of Toxicological Sciences, 2011,

7. Qixiao Zhai, Arjan Narbad, Wei Chen, Dietary Strategies for the Treatment of Cadmium and Lead Toxicity,, Nutrients, 2015,

8. Nakano S1, Takekoshi H, Nakano M., Chlorella (Chlorella pyrenoidosa) Supplementation Decreases Dioxin and Increases Immunoglobulin A Concentrations in Breast Milk,, Journal of Medicinal Food, 2007,

9. La Jolla Mom, Daily Detox: Drink Warm Lemon Water with Turmeric, www., 2016,

10. Metabolic Detoxification, www.lifeextension.com

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