Eat This, Detox That

by Dr. Leo Galland

Eat This, Detox That


Did you know that detoxification plays a central role in establishing good health?


Detoxification is a natural, automatic process that occurs in the body 24 hours a day. We can support our body’s ability to detoxify through positive lifestyle choices such as enhanced nutrition, limiting toxic exposures in our environment, exercise and stress reduction.


When I talk about detoxification I do not mean fasting, purging or other procedures, and do not recommend these. Fasting can be dangerous and undermines the body’s ability to detoxify naturally by depriving the body of adequate nutrition.


The liver is the major organ for detoxification. For the liver to function well in its job of detoxification, it requires nutrition: adequate protein is essential to this effort, and many vegetables and herbs can help.


There are special foods that can help the liver function well to process toxins:


Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower

Dark green vegetables such as kale, collard greens and Swiss chard.


In my book Power Healing I devote a chapter to the topic of detoxification, which I consider to be one of the four pillars of healing.


Interesting Research Abstracts on Vegetables:


Mini Rev Med Chem. 2009 Jun;9(6):749-59.

Potential health benefits of broccoli- a chemico-biological overview.

Vasanthi HR, Mukherjee S, Das DK.


Department of Surgery, University of Connecticut School of Medicine, Farmington, CT 06030-1110, USA.


The concept that bioactive components in functional foods are efficacious for the improvement of health, has recently gained much importance. The cruciferous vegetables which include broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower are excellent source of phytochemicals including glucosinolates and their byproducts, phenolics and antioxidant vitamins as well as dietary minerals. Broccoli consumption mediates a variety of functions including providing antioxidants, regulating enzymes and controlling apoptosis and cell cycle. The organosulfur chemicals namely glucosinolates and the S-methyl cysteine sulphoxide found in broccoli in concert with other constituents such as vitamins E, C, K and the minerals such as iron, zinc, selenium and the polyphenols namely kaempferol, quercetin glucosides and isorhamnetin are presumably responsible for various health benefits of broccoli. There exists no comprehensive review on the health promoting effects of phytochemical compounds present in broccoli so far. This review compiles the evidence for the beneficial role of glucosinolates in conjugation with the other phytoconstituents for human health. It also gives an overview on the chemical and biological characterization of potential bioactive compounds of broccoli including the interaction of phytoconstituents on its bioactivity. Further, the molecular basis of the biological activities of the chemicals present in broccoli potentially responsible for health promotion, from chemoprevention to cardio protection, are outlined based on in vitro and in vivo studies with a note on the structure activity relationship of sulforaphane and a few other isothiocyanates.


Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 2008 Dec;78(6):261-8.

Functional foods: from theory to practice.

Porrini M.


Department of Food Science and Microbiology, University of Milan, Milan, Italy.


Among Functional Foods there are many different "traditional" foods rich in specific compounds shown to produce an effect or modulate a function in our organism. However, in most cases, e. g. in tomato, the evidence has not been sufficient to obtain an official health claim. Nevertheless it is important to investigate further the effects of vegetables in our diet and to communicate correctly their advantages for health. Different works were performed in my laboratory on cruciferous vegetables which contain a lot of active compounds such as vitamins, minerals, carotenoids and glucosinolates. Glucosinolates are metabolised and absorbed as isothiocyanates that can affect the activity of enzymes involved both in the antioxidant defence system and in the detoxification from xenobiotics.. Promising are the preliminary results of human intervention studies demonstrating that the regular intake of broccoli for a relatively short period of time could significantly affect glutathione-S-transferase (GST) activity and cell protection against DNA damage. The entity of the protective effect registered seems also related to the genetic characteristic (GSTM1 polimorphysm) of the subjects considered. These results support the use of the nutrigenetic approach also to study functional foods (e. g. for specific groups of population).


J Agric Food Chem. 2009 Jul 24.

Identification of the Phenolic Components of Collard Greens, Kale, and Chinese Broccoli.

Lin LZ, Harnly JM.


Food Composition and Methods Development Laboratory, Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Building-161, BARC-East, 10300 Baltimore Avenue, Beltsville, Maryland 20705.


An LC-MS profiling method was used for a comprehensive study of the phenolic components of collard greens, kale, and Chinese broccoli, three Brassica green leafy vegetables. This study led to the identification of 45 flavonoids and 13 hydroxycinnamic acid derivatives in the three vegetables. Most of the identifications were based on comparison of compounds previously reported in the literature for Brassica vegetables. The results indicate that the three materials have very similar phenolic component profiles. For each, kaempferol glycosides and acylgentiobiosides were the major phenolic compounds, quercetin glycosides were minor compounds, and most of the flavononol glycosides existed in their acylated forms. In addition, each of the materials contained caffeoyl-, p-coumaroyl-, and feruloylquinic acid monomers with a 3-position derivative as the dominant isomer. This is the first report for most of these phenolics in collard greens and Chinese broccoli and for >20 of them in kale.


Mol Nutr Food Res. 2009 Sep;53 Suppl 2:S219.

Glucosinolates in Brassica vegetables: the influence of the food supply chain on intake, bioavailability and human health.

Verkerk R, Schreiner M, Krumbein A, Ciska E, Holst B, Rowland I, De Schrijver R, Hansen M, Gerhäuser C, Mithen R, Dekker M.


Product Design and Quality Management Group, Wageningen University, Wageningen, The Netherlands.


Glucosinolates (GLSs) are found in Brassica vegetables. Examples of these sources include cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower and various root vegetables (e.g. radish and turnip). A number of epidemiological studies have identified an inverse association between consumption of these vegetables and the risk of colon and rectal cancer. Animal studies have shown changes in enzyme activities and DNA damage resulting from consumption of Brassica vegetables or isothiocyanates, the breakdown products (BDP) of GLSs in the body. Mechanistic studies have begun to identify the ways in which the compounds may exert their protective action but the relevance of these studies to protective effects in the human alimentary tract is as yet unproven. In vitro studies with a number of specific isothiocyanates have suggested mechanisms that might be the basis of their chemoprotective effects. The concentration and composition of the GLSs in different plants, but also within a plant (e.g. in the seeds, roots or leaves), can vary greatly and also changes during plant development. Furthermore, the effects of various factors in the supply chain of Brassica vegetables including breeding, cultivation, storage and processing on intake and bioavailability of GLSs are extensively discussed in this paper.


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