Comparing the Effects of Food Types on the Detoxification Process

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Foods and Detoxification


The food that we consume can have a vital role in helping to encourage elimination and detoxification (‘eliminative’ foods), whilst other foods can dampen down and discourage these processes (‘suppressive’ foods). Understanding the effect of eliminatory and suppressive foods and detoxification is so important in our quest to help void the body of the toxicity that can build up from the numerous sources in our lives. In this article we discuss these two groups foods groups and their relative action on the detoxification process.

Eliminative Foods and Detoxification


The most strongly eliminative foods are the fruits.  In certain circumstances they are too aggressively strong and can produce uncomfortable symptoms of unduly rapid toxin elimination. Without understanding this process, people engage in fruit fasts however undertaking such a regime is something that needs to be carefully considered and not just a following of the latest trendy approach to detoxification. The issue is that the tissues around the body eliminate rapidly, leading to a very high level of circulating toxins, yet the organs whose job it is to eliminate such toxins to the outside are unprepared for such an out‑rush and simply cannot cope.  They then fail to eliminate to the outside and, on ending the fruit fast (usually in discomfort), the toxins return to the same tissues which were holding them before.

It actually makes an important difference as to which fruits are eaten.  There is a marked gradation of eliminative behaviour. At the top (most active or 'aggressive' eliminators there are the citrus fruit (oranges, grapefruit, lemons and limes), and also pineapples. 

Next come the soft fruits (e.g. strawberries, raspberries, black currants) followed closely by plums and grapes. Peaches come next, to be followed by apricots, apples and pears (whose actions are much milder, though still very strong compared to non‑fruits). Bananas are very mild and, by comparison with other fruits, relatively lacking in eliminative properties.

If one looks at the various eliminative programmes designed and used by naturopaths over the years, one sees that grapefruits figure very substantially in them. This is what one might expect bearing in mind the strongly aggressive action of citrus fruit. Sometimes the patients are left to put up with quite a lot of adverse effects for a short time due to 'auto‑intoxication', but in the better programmes there is always some way of encouraging the body to eliminate the toxins, not only from the tissues, but to the outside.

In other programmes grapes are used.  They are a little “kinder” to the user, while still capable of being aggressive.

The eliminative power of fruits is not normally obvious in ordinary, non-treatment diets because they are being taken along with an admixture of suppressive foods.


We saw that the fruits are strongly eliminative and although the use of fruits in eliminative diets may well be 'allowed', it is usual to control the amount and types with care. Unless the diet is intended to be unrestrained in its eliminative effect, the citrus fruits and pineapples will generally be excluded. In order to avoid an over-stimulation of fruits, it is better to use vegetables, as these exert an action that is far milder and more controllable

The vegetables which exert this kind of effect are not the seeds (which, prior to germination are dormant and therefore lower in the Life Force), nor storage organs like tubers, but those vegetables which come from the body of the plant, i.e. leaf, root and stem vegetables.

Vegetables of these types are far higher in minerals than fruits, and those minerals are in better balance. These provide the biochemical basis for the controllable and sustainable kind of eliminatory effects that they produce.   

Within the field of vegetables, just as among the fruits, there are variations in the strength of eliminatory impact. The relevant relationships are:

  • green leaf vegetables > root or stem types
  • raw vegetables > cooked vegetables
  • vegetable juices > whole vegetables
  • organically grown vegetables > conventionally grown ones.

It follows from the above that any diet that aims to promote a significant amount of elimination of toxins must contain vegetables in significant quantities.  In such diets, vegetables generally comprise 40 to 80 per cent by weight of the total food consumed. It follows that there is scope for increasing the eliminative power by using organically grown vegetables, and for modulating and controlling the strength of the eliminative action by adjustments of cooked versus raw content, juice versus whole and leaf versus root and stem types.

These variations are of vital importance among the tools of the Nutritional Practitioner as vegetables, as a group, provide the main eliminative thrust used in naturopathic nutritional treatments.

Suppressive Foods and Detoxification


Next, we can consider the other end of the scale. Meat is one of the more suppressive foods, and among meats, pork is the most suppressive. The effect of eating pork is quite the opposite to the effects of eating fruit in that it is very instrumental, indeed, in dampening down and perhaps altogether stopping eliminations. 

There would, in general, be no point in trying to treat by naturopathic means, someone that had a diet high in pork, bacon and ham, because the eliminative efforts of the body would never 'get off the ground'.  Most naturopaths or naturopathically orientated practitioners would probably decline to treat a person who was proposing to eat pork during treatment.

The same might go for other meats; beef is also very suppressive; lamb and chicken rather less so, but still suppressive. So some practitioners may accept the presence of carefully controlled quantities of chicken or lamb in the diet, depending upon just how strong were the eliminative actions they wanted to produce and whether or not they themselves were vegetarian on grounds of principle rather than for health reasons alone.

Therefore, among meats, we have the gradation in magnitude of the suppressive effect, in the sequence:

  • Pork > beef > lamb > chicken, other poultry and game birds  (where > means greater than)

Venison, if it is ever important, probably falls between beef and lamb, but closer to lamb. Sometimes it is necessary to take into account the degree of freedom of the meat from drugs, chemicals and artificial feeding, separately from the inherent suppressive-ness of the meat itself.

We also have the comparable sequence: 

  • meat or milk > eggs > fish

It is therefore much easier to include eggs or fish into a diet than to include meat, and much easier to include chicken or lamb than to include pork, beef or milk.


It is difficult to look at the inherent suppressive-ness of milk separately from its effects on sodium/potassium balance and upon calcium/magnesium balance, which are both very adverse. Taking these effects into account, milk (cows or any other animal, but of course not Soya milk, which is not milk at all) is very suppressive indeed and quite on a level with or possibly worse than pork. It should be avoided at all costs if you are considering any detoxification program. About 25 per cent by weight of the diet in many Western countries is composed of milk and milk products.

Hence, this one factor bears much responsibility in respect of its contribution to the overall suppressive-ness of Western style diets and hence for the prevalence and pattern of 'Western' diseases.

Wheat & Rye

In general, foods, which come from plants, have nothing like the suppressive action of animal foods. A great many plant foods, quite apart from the fruits, which have already been discussed, are among the most helpful active eliminators. However, in wheat and rye, we do have two plant-derived foods, which are distinctly unhelpful to elimination. Wheat is the major staple in the Western-type diet.

Conventionalists often speak of the advantages which wheat has given to the western world. In doing so they appear to see no further than just the protein content of wheat, which is higher than that of rice - staple of the East. They even make no allowance at all for the superior quality of the protein of rice - which is a very important conventional difference, let alone showing any understanding at all about eliminative properties.

Therefore, you will readily perceive that the overall effects of taking wheat in any quantity into a less‑than‑perfect system will be quite disadvantageous.  It takes a strong and uncompromised system to handle wheat without harm. 

The effects from rye, which was also mentioned above, are far less than those from wheat, because rye lacks a gluten with comparable properties to wheat gluten. The effects on elimination from rye are also inclined to be adverse, but the reasons why this is so are mainly related to the acidity which rye produces.

One other plant‑derived food deserves brief mention. Soya beans are one of the more difficult plant foods to handle. They make an acidic contribution as well as being hard to digest, so they have some suppressive action.


Salt is sodium chloride, so salt always represents added sodium over and above that, which is present in foods naturally. We have been over the ground concerning the abuse of salt and the sodium/potassium imbalance that its use promotes. Salt is therefore acidifying, because its use leads to sodium accumulation by the cells, and sodium attracts acid to it.


Many authorities, particularly macrobiotic authorities, claim that sugar, in itself, is acidifying. From a biochemical standpoint it is not easy to see by what mechanism it would actually exert such an acidifying effect, because sugar is metabolised away within the body to leave nothing except carbon dioxide and water. The water is neutral and the carbon dioxide can be 'blown off' by the lungs. Under relatively air‑starved conditions, lactic acid may be produced from sugar, which is acidifying, but even this is converted readily to carbon dioxide and water as soon as there is adequate oxygen in the tissues to do it.

It seems that if it is true that sugar exerts an acidifying effect it must be an indirect effect. Sugar inhibits mineral uptake by the body. We know that this is enough to produce, in the long run, acid accumulation and an inhibition of elimination. So, sugar may, by this indirect means, join the list of suppressive foods.

The Neutral Grains

The grains most nearly neutral are rice and millet. This means that these two foods may be eaten without exerting any significant effect upon the acid/alkali balance of the body.

In accordance with the paragraph above about the correlation between alkali‑forming properties and eliminative properties, we do consider that these two grains have little impact upon the actual elimination of toxins from the body tissues generally. They do, however, have a significant impact upon cleansing overall because they stimulate and support the second phase of the elimination process ‑ elimination from the body of already‑circulating toxins.

This means that rice and millet are the most helpful foods to use when auto‑intoxication has occurred, i.e. when the level of released circulating toxins is high and exceeding the ability of the organs of elimination to handle them.  It also means that in any dietary programme, which is designed to produce some level of overall cleansing, a substantial level of these two grains should be included. This will make sure that the body is given a chance not only to eliminate toxins at tissue level, but also to remove the products of tissue level elimination from the body.

This thinking establishes leaf, root and stem vegetables and rice and millet, as two absolutely prime components of a cleansing diet.

The case in favour of these two major dietary components is seen overwhelmingly in practice.  People who do not eat vegetables are generally incapable of carrying out a smooth on‑going elimination of their body's toxins, let alone of producing a healing elimination.  People, who eat no vegetables but binge on fruit, are subject to out‑of‑control and unpredictable eliminations which are distinctly unproductive in so far as actual body cleansing is concerned.

People who eat no fruit or vegetables cannot eliminate from tissue level very much at all. People who are manifestly suffering the effects of auto‑intoxication, are greatly improved by taking a large intake of short‑grain organic rice.

On the whole, the cleansing effect of rice is better than that of millet. Obviously, the impact of a diet consisting only of rice with leaf, root and stem vegetables and nothing else is very cleansing, but it should not be continued for longer than 3-4 weeks for adults and should be well monitored throughout.

food and detox

The Relation between the Ph of Foods and ​Detoxification

The most strongly eliminative foods, the fruits, are also the most alkali-forming foods hence we can say that there is a correlation between alkali-forming properties and eliminative properties. Similarly, meats are acid forming in the tissues hence we have a negative correlation between the acid-forming properties of meats and their eliminative properties.

We hope that this article has raised your awareness of the gradation of food, from the very eliminative to the very suppressive, with those foods in between in which the eliminative and suppressive effects are quite evenly balanced and are more or less neutral in their effects upon elimination.

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