“Detoxing” means helping the body get rid of harmful substances and protecting against their damage. Usually, it involves consuming certain foods or drinks or following a particular diet.

The body’s organs are already very adept at removing toxins. Fruits, vegetables, and pulses all support this process, and adding antioxidant-rich foods to the diet may help protect against toxin-induced damage.

Below, we explore the process of detoxing and specific foods and drinks that can help.

there is a glass filled with purple smoothie on a wooden tableShare on Pinterest
Aaron Kurz/EyeEm/Getty Images

A “detox” is short for “detoxification.” It involves consuming certain foods or following a particular diet to cleanse the body of toxins.

A common misconception is that detoxing helps remove toxins that have accumulated in the organs, but the organs naturally do this on their own. It is not necessary to detox the body with special diets or products.

Nonetheless, certain foods contain substances called antioxidants that help protect the body from free radicals. These are unstable molecules that can damage the body’s cells. A person can become exposed to free radicals through toxic substances, such as cigarette smoke and air pollution.

The damage caused by free radicals is known as “oxidative stress.” This plays a role in a number of diseases, including:

Consuming antioxidant-rich foods may help reduce the risk of the diseases above.

Vegetables that are high in antioxidants can help protect the body from free radical damage. Some examples include:

Anthocyanins are red, blue, or purple pigments in some plants. These pigments have antioxidant properties that help protect against free radical damage.

According to a 2017 review, anthrocyanins may support health for many reasons, including their:

  • antimicrobial properties
  • anti-inflammatory properties
  • anticancer properties

Some fruits that are rich in anthocyanins include:

Pulses are rich in fiber. According to a 2016 review, dietary fiber can increase the expression of detoxifying enzymes in the liver and help protect the liver from pro-inflammatory bacteria.

This may allow the liver to concentrate on detoxing the body instead of combating inflammation.

Some fiber-rich pulses include:

Nori is a type of edible seaweed that is popular in Japanese cuisine. There is some evidence that nori has detoxifying properties, though most studies in this field have involved only animals.

A 2014 review found that cilantro, also known as coriander, can remove certain neurotoxins from the body. Examples of such neurotoxins include:

  • certain heavy metals, such as mercury
  • certain chemical toxins, such as:
    • insecticides
    • phthalates
    • plasticizers

A 2017 study determined that cilantro reduced concentrations of lead in rats’ livers.

Below, find examples of drinks that can boost the amount of antioxidants in a person’s diet.


Smoothies can be packed with antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables. A person might make a smoothie with:

  • pureed fruits and vegetables
  • fruit or vegetable juices
  • yogurt
  • milk
  • nuts and seeds

Vegetable smoothies are also called green smoothies. They typically contain leafy green vegetables plus some fruit to increase their sweetness.

Fruit smoothies are tasty, but because they can be high in sugar, it is a good idea to drink them in moderation. It is also worth keeping in mind that detox juices do not contain enough nutrients to replace meals.


Green, black, and white teas all come from the Camellia sinensis plant. Both green and white teas are abundant in a type of antioxidant called catechins.

An older study, from 2010, found that the two teas have comparable antioxidant benefits.

The liver filters toxins from the blood and converts them into waste products. These waste products are eliminated from the body via urine and feces.

The liver also has other key functions, such as:

  • metabolizing nutrients and medications
  • breaking down old or damaged blood cells
  • stabilizing blood sugar levels

Certain issues can impair liver function, making the organ less able to detoxify the body. These factors include:

To help the liver function:

  • Maintain a healthy weight by having a balanced diet and getting regular exercise.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation or not at all.
  • Refrain from using drugs and receive appropriate care for a dependency or addiction.
  • Use a barrier method, such as a condom, when having sex.

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, there is not enough evidence to suggest that liver cleanses can help with existing liver damage.

The goal of detoxing is to help the body remove harmful substances and protect against damage.

Dietary detoxes are not necessary because the body is already very adept at getting rid of toxic substances. However, consuming antioxidant-rich foods could help protect against toxin-induced free radical damage.

Fruits, vegetables, and pulses all help the body detox. A person might boost the number of antioxidants in their diet by adding certain smoothies and teas.