Nutrients for Detoxification

Nutrients for Detoxification

Liver detoxification, also known as hepatic detoxification, refers to the complex biochemical processes that the liver employs to neutralise and eliminate toxins from the body. These processes are often divided into two phases: Phase 1 and Phase 2 detoxification.

Phase 1 Detoxification:

During Phase 1 detoxification, enzymes in the liver known as cytochrome P450 enzymes modify and prepare toxins for further processing in Phase 2. This phase involves several reactions, including oxidation, reduction, and hydrolysis, which aim to transform fat-soluble toxins into more water-soluble forms. While these reactions make toxins more accessible for elimination, they can also generate intermediate products that might be more reactive and potentially harmful if not quickly processed by Phase 2 enzymes.

Phase 2 Detoxification:

Phase 2 detoxification involves conjugation, a process in which the intermediate products produced in Phase 1 are bound to specific molecules to make them less harmful and more easily excreted from the body. There are several pathways of Phase 2 detoxification, including:

  1. Glutathione Conjugation (Glutathione S-Transferase Pathway): Glutathione, a powerful antioxidant, is used to neutralise and bind to toxins, making them water-soluble and easier for the body to eliminate. The Chlorophyll and B12 found in Chlorella and Spirulina help to produce glutathione.

  2. Amino Acid Conjugation: Toxins are bound to amino acids (glycine, taurine, or glutamine) to form water-soluble compounds that can be excreted in urine.

  3. Sulfation: Toxins are combined with sulfur-containing molecules (such as sulfate) to create water-soluble compounds that can be excreted in urine

    Sulforaphane is a sulfur-rich compound found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and particularly rich in Broccoli sprouts.
  4. Methylation: This pathway involves adding a methyl group (CH3) to toxins, which can modify their structure and make them more water-soluble. Dark green vegetables and Cruciferous vegetables, including kale, broccoli, broccoli sprouts cauliflower, and cabbage can help methylation

  5. Acetylation: Certain toxins are combined with acetyl-CoA to increase their water solubility and facilitate excretion.

Overall Process:

The liver detoxification process is a coordinated effort between Phase 1 and Phase 2 enzymes. The goal is to convert toxins from fat-soluble forms that are often stored in tissues into water-soluble forms that can be excreted through urine or bile. Once toxins are made water-soluble in Phase 2, they can be easily eliminated from the body via the kidneys (urine) or the digestive tract (bile and faeces).

It's important to note that while the liver plays a central role in detoxification, other organs and systems also contribute to eliminating toxins, including the kidneys, lungs, skin, and digestive tract.


Supporting Phase 2 detoxification is crucial for effective toxin elimination and overall health. While Phase 1 detoxification activates enzymes that transform fat-soluble toxins into intermediate products, these intermediates are often more reactive and potentially harmful. Phase 2 detoxification involves the conjugation of these intermediates with specific molecules, making them water-soluble and easily excreted from the body. 

Supporting phase while on a detox is vital in neutralising and rendering the reactive intermediates produced in Phase 1 less harmful as well as reducing the side effects often experienced during a detox and ensure proper elimination of the toxins from the body.

Nutrients for phase 1 and phase 2 detoxification phases

Nutrients for Phase 1 Detoxification:

Phase 1 detoxification involves the activation of enzymes that transform fat-soluble toxins into intermediate products. Some nutrients that support Phase 1 detoxification include:

  1. B Vitamins (B6, B12, Folate): These vitamins are cofactors for various enzymes involved in Phase 1 reactions.

  2. Vitamin C: An antioxidant that helps protect Phase 1 enzymes from damage caused by free radicals.

  3. Flavonoids: Found in fruits and vegetables, flavonoids can help modulate Phase 1 enzyme activity.

  4. Zinc: A mineral that supports the activity of several Phase 1 enzymes.

  5. Magnesium: Essential for the function of certain Phase 1 enzymes.

  6. Iron: Required for the function of some cytochrome P450 enzymes involved in Phase 1 reactions.

Nutrients for Phase 2 Detoxification:

Phase 2 detoxification involves the conjugation of intermediate products from Phase 1 with specific molecules to render them water-soluble and easily excreted. Nutrients that support Phase 2 detoxification include:

  1. Glutathione: A powerful antioxidant and essential molecule for the glutathione conjugation pathway (Glutathione S-transferase pathway).

  2. Amino Acids (Glycine, Taurine, Glutamine): These are used in the conjugation of toxins to form water-soluble compounds.

  3. Sulfur-Containing Nutrients (Cysteine, Methionine): Support sulfation, a Phase 2 pathway involving the addition of sulfur groups to toxins.

  4. Vitamin B Complex: B vitamins play various roles in Phase 2 pathways, acting as cofactors for enzymes involved in conjugation reactions.

  5. Methionine and Choline: Support methylation reactions, a Phase 2 pathway that involves the addition of a methyl group to toxins.

  6. Cruciferous Vegetables: Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and other cruciferous vegetables contain glucosinolates that support Phase 2 detoxification processes.

  7. Selenium: Required for optimal glutathione peroxidase activity, an enzyme that helps detoxify peroxides and free radicals.

It's important to note that these nutrients work synergistically, and a well-balanced diet that includes a variety of nutrient-rich foods will provide the necessary components to support both Phase 1 and Phase 2 detoxification pathways. While certain foods and supplements can be beneficial, extreme detox diets can be harmful. Always aim for a balanced approach to nutrition and prioritise whole, nutrient-dense foods.

Ways to Support Phase 2 Detoxification:

  • Nutrient-Rich Diet: Consume a variety of whole foods rich in nutrients that support Phase 2 pathways, such as sulfur-containing amino acids, antioxidants, and B vitamins.
  • Hydration: Drinking adequate water helps eliminate water-soluble toxins through urine.
  • Cruciferous Vegetables: Include broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts, and other cruciferous vegetables, as they contain compounds that enhance Phase 2 detoxification.
  • Adequate Protein Intake: Amino acids from protein-rich foods are essential for Phase 2 conjugation reactions.
  • Limit Toxin Exposure: Minimise exposure to environmental toxins to reduce the burden on your detoxification system.
  • Manage Stress: Chronic stress can impact detoxification pathways, so stress management techniques are important.

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Remember that a balanced approach to nutrition, hydration, and lifestyle factors is key to supporting Phase 2 detoxification. If you have specific health concerns, it's advisable to consult a healthcare professional or a naturopath for personalised guidance.

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