Detoxification and elimination, naturally.

Written by Brooke Oke (Clinical Naturopath, BHSc) and Olivia Odey (Naturopath Student).

So what does detoxification really mean?

Detoxification tends to come with a bit of a bad reputation. In this modern age there is so much information on there about how to 'detox' after a big night out, or eating bad or even trying to lose weight. Our bodies are very intelligent and do the hard work at removing toxins every day, without us even realising! We have a few different organs and pathways that support this process, the liver, kidneys, lymphatic and digestive system all work hard to keep us free from illness and disease. In this post we will focus on the liver as the main player in supporting natural detoxification.

Detoxification is the process of breaking down and removing substances which are undesirable or unusable for the body. Exposure to toxins is an increasing problem in our world today as the result of fast paced evolution. Thousands of xenobiotics exist with the number only continuing to grow. A healthy human body is capable of handling xenobiotics within range, however as artificial toxins continue to evolve humans are less likely to adapt and respond as efficiently, especially if exposure is chronic. The role of detoxification is seen primarily in the liver cells (hepatocytes), and occurs in the following phases. The liver really is an amazing organ. Did you know your liver filters through approx. 1.5L of blood every minute? It works hard!

Phase 1.

Phase 1 is our first line of defence and involves processes of oxidation, reduction and hydrolysis of reactants. There is also a large presence of a family of enzymes known as the cytochrome P450 system. These enzymes are largely present in the liver cells but can also be found in the adrenal glands, gut, brain and lungs. Their main role is to metabolise/clear various substrates such as bacteria, pesticides, heavy metals, caffeine, hormones, alcohol and pollutants. After phase 1 processes are complete, metabolites are highly reactive and Phase 2 activity is required as a matter of urgency to prevent tissue damage by accumulated highly reactive compounds.

Adequate functioning of phase 1 is important to avoid accumulation of toxins in the fatty tissue.

Important nutrients for this phase include B2, 3, 6 & 12, glutathione, folic acid, vitamin C and magnesium.

Ways to support phase 1 detoxification:

Food sources we can focus on for this phase would include whole grains, legumes, leafy greens, lean meats/fish, mushrooms, citrus and organ meats.

Drinking at least 2L of filtered water per day can also support adequate detoxification.

Phase 2.

The phase 2 detoxification system is known as the conjugation pathway, whereby the liver attaches another molecule to the “intermediate toxin” to render it less harmful. Phase 2 can be divided into 6 different stages each with their own personal functions. This phase not only works to process and clear external toxins, it also functions to metabolise our own hormones and neurotransmitters!

Dysfunctions in either phase 1 or phase 2 may result in negative adverse effects which are dependent on which enzyme group is being targeted.

Important nutrients for this phase include amino acids, flavonoids and NAC.

Ways to support phase 2 detoxification:

In relation to food sources, cruciferous vegetables are the best phase 2 inducers, leafy greens, eggs, liver meats, nuts/seeds, garlic, onion and cabbage can all be included when looking to support this phase. Herbs that we like to utilise in this phase are Turmeric, Rosemary, Schisandra and Dandelion root.

Did you know the liver is not only responsible for the detoxification pathways - it also functions to help support other bodily processes such as the following.

~ Bile production and excretion which is necessary for adequate digestion

~ Metabolism of our dietary fats, proteins and carbs

~ Storage of glycogen, vitamins and minerals (glycogen can later be converted back to glucose for energy!)

~ The liver stores and processes the blood for its iron content (super important to avoid deficiencies and optimise energy)

~ Removes bacteria from the blood which will help to strengthen immunity and reduce infection risk

If you feel like you may need some extra support with your detoxification, book in a consultation with one of our Clinical Naturopaths or Nutritionists here.

Recipe to support natural detoxification.

Beet and rocket salad.

This beet and rocket salad is the perfect summer lunch or side salad for a dinner dish. The beetroot is rich in betaine which is required for phase 2 detoxification, while the rocket acts as a bitter element to stimulate digestion. Packed full of omega 3s and healthy fats from the walnuts and avocado - balanced out with some plant protein and a boost of fibre thanks to the beans. You could serve this on the side of any meat or simply enjoy it on its own.

Serves 2.


  • 2 beetroots

  • 1 cup rocket

  • 60g goats feta

  • 2 tbsp walnuts, chopped

  • 1 avocado

  • 200g butter beans, drained and rinsed.


  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

  • 1 tbsp honey

  • 1 tbsp olive oil

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and chop the beetroot into chunks. Drizzle some olive oil and salt over the beets before wrapping them in baking paper to cook (avoid using aluminium foil as this can contribute to aluminium accumulation in the body!). Cook for approx. 40-50 minutes or until soft enough to pick up with a fork.

  2. Rinse your beans well under cold water and set aside.

  3. While you're waiting for the beets to cook you can make your dressing by simply mixing or shaking together in a jar your balsamic vinegar, honey and olive oil.

  4. To assemble your bowl, start with adding the rocket to a bowl. You want to add a little bit of your dressing here to toss through your greens but make sure to save some for the top. Add in your diced avocado and beans. Once the beets are ready and slightly cooled, add them to your bowl and top with the feta and walnuts. Drizzle over the remainder of the dressing and finish with salt and pepper.


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In the spirit of reconciliation, Goodkind  Naturopathy acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of our country, the Yugambeh language group and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respect to their elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.


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