Detox - a term that is now used very commercially and has many facets. The following article explains how complex detoxification processes are in the human metabolism and that a seven-day juice cleanse every six months is not enough to sustainably support these biochemical processes. Above all, the right diet and a healthy lifestyle serve as prevention, absorbing fewer environmental toxins and harmful substances, which ultimately also require less detoxification.

The term detox and what it is all about

The term detox, which is short for detoxification, is borrowed from the English language and means "detoxification, withdrawal". It is hard to miss the term "toxic", which comes from the same word family and is a foreign word for poison 1 . So when people talk about a detox cure in everyday use, it is in a broader sense about removing toxins from the body. This is intended to benefit your health and personal well-being.

First and foremost, it should be made clear that the human organism, with its natural daily metabolism, is constantly filtering, eliminating or converting harmful substances. Detox is therefore actually a daily process like our breathing, heartbeat or digestion.

Metabolism: absorption and release of substances

The human organism is in a constant state of intake and release: we breathe in through our mouth and nose via the windpipe and absorb the oxygen in the lungs via the alveoli into our bloodstream. There it is transported to the heart, organs and the smallest cells, where it is used to generate energy. CO 2 produced from this process is transported out again using the same system: Blood that is low in oxygen returns to the heart via the veins and from there into the lungs, where it is finally exhaled by us 2 . We also absorb substances through our skin and digestive tract and expel them again using the same basic principle. So it is always a matter of ensuring that substances enter our system and thus our bloodstream, and that tissues and organs are supplied with them - whichever of the three routes they use.

Substances that may be of little use or even harmful to the organism

It is unavoidable that these complex processes also allow substances to enter our bodies that are not useful or that can be harmful to our health in large quantities over the long term. This is not fundamentally dramatic, because our complex system has various defense systems that are constantly working. Mechanical, sensory and chemical barriers such as skin, stomach acid, the intestinal mucosa and our senses protect us, but they cannot stop all invaders from getting into our innermost being. That is why our organs, microorganisms, cells and cell organelles have various internal defense systems or defense functions that "detoxify" us.

Which substances need to be detoxified?

From the air we take over the breathing different Environmental toxins These include exhaust fumes, cosmetic chemicals such as nail polish, hair dye, artificial fragrances, hair spray and deodorant. In addition, there is the intake of tar and tobacco about smoking cigarettes. Even when they are passively inhaled, they reach our lungs.

Substances such as Microplastics and foreign Chemicals into the body – often through unconsciously selected personal care products. These often contain hormone-like Effects , carcinogenic Properties or have a Allergy potential .

Diet also plays a major role in the absorption of toxins: especially in processed foods the Convenience Levels 4 and 5 contain many industrially produced additives that our body ultimately has to excrete because they are not useful. Alcohol, medication and caffeine are substances that can damage our cells and therefore need to be neutralized by the liver.

How does the body detoxify?

The digestive tract , our bloodstream , the liver and kidney play a central role in detoxifying the body. Stomach acid already breaks down substances and also kills a large proportion of parasites such as bacteria. Colon – provided the intestinal mucosa is intact – the intestinal barrier ensures that at least some of the potentially inflammatory substances are not absorbed at all and therefore do not enter the bloodstream 4 .

However, some particles manage to pass through this barrier and enter the bloodstream – just like the toxins that are absorbed through the skin and breath. These are then transported in the blood to the liver 5 .

If the body has the right micronutrients and amino acids needed to bind and transport the toxins out, the liver can detoxify optimally:
The liver breaks down alcohol and hormones and emulsifies or converts substances that are difficult or insoluble in water 3 . For these processes, it mainly needs the amino acids L-glutamine, cysteine, arginine, citrulline, ornithine, aspartic acid, lysine and methionine.

Various compounds are formed from them or with their help; these enzymes can then bind the toxins so that they can be removed. Micronutrients such as selenium, zinc, manganese, vitamin C and B vitamins also play an important role here. The bound substances can then be filtered in the kidneys and ultimately excreted via the urine.
It is advisable to supplement a healthy diet consisting of lots of fresh foods with a good multivitamin preparation. The bioavailability of the respective micronutrients is particularly important. Unfortunately, there are many cheap products that contain too low a dosage or are very poorly absorbed by the body.

Of course, this all sounds very complex - and it is. This gives us only a small insight into the fascinating interplay of our organ system. But what is the exact connection to the various active detoxification methods that are being promoted in our society today?

Different detox methods – which ones make sense and which ones less so

Juice diets in particular are a popular detoxification method that works well, especially from a marketing perspective for food manufacturers and for their profits. The problem with juice diets, however, is on the one hand the high consumption of fructose - i.e. fruit sugar - and on the other hand the loss of vitamins that smoothies suffer quite quickly during storage:

Most fruits have a relatively high fructose content and also a glucose content. Both are simple sugars and increase blood sugar levels rapidly. If blood sugar levels are too high, the sugars are usually quickly converted into fat and stored. Blood sugar levels then suddenly drop to a very low level, which can lead to cravings. This is because the storage capacity of the two types of sugar is limited and that of fat cells is not.

When it comes to fructose, scientists are now even divided as to whether the 20g storage in the liver even exists. In addition, the capacity of the intestinal mucosa cells to absorb fructose is limited, and if the limit is exceeded, it can become irritated, which ultimately is not conducive to the detox effect.

Other detox methods can sometimes make sense, depending on the situation. For example, therapeutic fasting or intermittent fasting first leads to the sugar reserves in the liver and proteins being broken down, and then the fat stores are used as an energy source 7 . In addition, the digestive tract is completely relieved - and digestion is a very energy-intensive process. This allows the body to concentrate on regeneration and repair processes, which ultimately renews cells and stimulates a variety of hormones that prepare the metabolism for healing processes.

Withdrawal from stimulants such as alcohol, cigarettes and coffee should definitely be included in such a detox phase. For some people, this alone is a form of detoxification. This withdrawal is often accompanied by severe headaches and depression in the initial phase. However, this is only a sign that the body is actually actively detoxifying.

The basis for detox is the right diet

It is sensible and sustainable in the long term to eat a healthy diet and avoid foods that contain toxins. In addition, you should bring the macro and micro nutrients into your body through your diet, which support the detoxification processes described above. “Nutrition design” Dr. Dominik Nischwitz explains in a simple way how to use nutrition as a basis for your health. What does that mean in concrete terms?

  • Buy high-quality food: ideally organically produced goods.
  • Buy/consume fresh and natural products. Berries (which have a very low sugar content and contain a lot of antioxidants) and vegetables can be bought frozen without any problems - as long as no additives or sugar have been added.
  • Consume dairy alternatives such as cashew, almond or coconut milk / cashew, almond or coconut yoghurt without added sugar.
  • Buy gluten- and soy-free foods: rice or buckwheat noodles instead of wheat noodles, Paleo bread made from nuts and seeds instead of grain bread.
  • Eat lots of vegetables, high-quality protein and natural fats à organic eggs, wild salmon, organic chicken, quinoa, coconut oil, pasture butter, green vegetables, salad and berries
  • Incorporate bitter substances into the diet, e.g. with grapefruit and bitter herbs

× Do not consume too much sugar, especially fructose.

× Avoid potential allergens such as soy, gluten and dairy products (except
Pasture butter & ghee)

× Avoid industrially processed products and unnatural additives.

× Avoid hydrogenated and industrially processed fats such as margarine.

Lifestyle, sleep and stress management

These factors also play an indirect role when it comes to detoxification, because they are directly related to the consumption of micronutrients: In the case of chronic, negative stress, much more magnesium is excreted via the kidneys, which can lead to a magnesium deficiency 8 . Magnesium is then missing as a raw material in the detoxification processes explained above.

It is therefore important to optimize your stress management, sleep and work-life balance so that your body still has enough regeneration phases to concentrate on the detoxification processes.


Special detox cures, active detoxification phases and fasting cures make sense when specifically applied, as long as they are carried out on the basis of conscious nutrition and a healthy lifestyle that supports the body sustainably and in the long term in its natural detoxification processes.


1 Duden: Toxic. [; 29.08.19]

2 Bütikofer, Markus; Hopf, Zensi; Rutz, Guido; Stach, Silke and Grigoleit, Andrea (2015): Human Biology 1: Basics, Metabolism and Defense Systems. Zurich: Compendio Educational Media. Pp. 69-84.
 3 Sengebusch, Jürgen & Bastian, Ulrike (2015): Crash course for alternative medicine practitioners’ examination. Munich: Elsevier GmbH.
pp. 165-173.

4 Zschokke, PD Dr. Samuel (2017): Human Biology I – Nutrition & Digestion. Basel: University of Basel. Institute for Nature, Landscape and Environmental Protection. P. 3-33.

5 Bütikofer, Markus; Hopf, Zensi; Rutz, Guido; Stach, Silke and Grigoleit, Andrea (2015): Human Biology 1: Basics, Metabolism and Defense Systems. Zurich: Compendio Educational Media. Pp. 61-63.

6 Diagnostic Center: [; 20.09.2019]

7 Enck, Paul; Frieling, Thomas & Schemann, Michael (2017): Gut to Brain. Freiburg: Herder Verlag.

8th Strunz, Dr. Med. Ulrich (2016): Blood – the secrets of our “liquid organ”. Munich: Heyne Verlag.

Ines Schulz
Ines Maria Schulz, born on December 1st, 1992 in Basel, Switzerland, also completed her Master of Education in Biology and WAH there, laying the foundation for understanding physiology and anatomy as well as nutrition. She is also a trained primary school sports teacher. For two years she has been a coach at MTM Personal Training, the most successful personal training studio in Berlin. There she supports customers every day who want to exploit their maximum potential in terms of mental and physical health and performance. In cooperation with doctors such as Dr. Dominik Nischwitz and a laboratory for intestinal health as well as constant exchange within the team, she can give her customers optimal advice on training, nutrition, micronutrients and lifestyle. She has already written a breakfast book and a large part of a lifestyle booklet for MTM. She also writes the weekly newsletter, which publishes nutritional tips and recipes she has created. Ines has completed seminars and certificates with various successful coaches and specialists and is constantly expanding her skills. The young trainer has been writing blog articles for Supz Nutrition since January 2019.

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