Healthy Foods

A New Way To Detox: Eat To Support 6 Organs Of Elimination

Did you know that there are six organs that support your body’s natural detoxification process? The body’s six organs of detox are the liver, kidneys, lungs, lymph, colon, and skin.

Each organ works daily to eliminate excess waste that’s produced from our natural metabolic process. Waste products and metabolites, generally referred to as toxins, are also known officially as xenobiotics.

The reason we don’t see a lot of research on detox is because it is actually a process of metabolism; try searching that instead!

Most people think of detoxification as a tool for weight loss, but its real purpose is to release our toxic burden. In doing so, we also improve the function of the metabolically active tissue, or MAT.

Most people know that increasing lean muscle mass will burn more calories while at rest; however, lean body mass is a low-metabolic-rate tissue: It burns far fewer calories than our brain, liver, kidneys, and heart. The better these organs are working, the more calories you’ll burn while sleeping, eating, breathing, etc. That’s why detox kick-starts weight loss.

Here’s a guide on how to detox each organ of elimination with different foods.


This powerful organ cleans the blood and transforms harmful chemicals for excretion. It reigns over all toxins of the body by cleaning and filtering every ounce of blood and metabolizing all chemicals, even the good kinds.

Bitter foods and foods that facilitate the body’s production of internal antioxidants, glutathione, are best for liver detoxification.

Foods that support liver detoxification include:

  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Garlic
  • Beets
  • Salad greens
  • Lemon juice
  • Green apples

Bitter herbs that support liver detoxification include:

  • Dandelion
  • Yellow dock


The role of the two kidneys is to flush waste and toxins from your blood by turning it into urine after it’s cleaned by the liver. The kidneys flush water-soluble waste in response to water and electrolyte concentrations.

It’s recommended to drink at least two quarts of water while detoxing. You can also consume greens herbs and teas, which are weak diuretics that promote kidney detox without unbalancing your electrolytes.

Some foods work to flush the kidneys and reduce blood pressure, and others act as renal tonics to flush extra toxins and prevent bacteria buildup.

Foods that support kidney flush:

  • Water
  • Parsley
  • Cilantro
  • Green tea
  • Nettle
  • Alfalfa

Renal tonic foods:

  • Cranberry
  • Juniper berry


Your lungs are responsible for filtering out CO2, fumes, mold, allergens, and airborne toxins. You naturally detox your lungs by simply breathing and exhaling deeply.

Sleeping soundly without sleep apnea or excessive snoring also promotes lung detox. Use a Himalayan salt pipe or go to the beach to breathe in salt air in order to clean the lungs further.

Foods with spicy/pungent flavors and slippery/soothing textures are best for lung detoxification.

Foods that support the lungs include:

  • Black seed
  • Mustard
  • Turnip
  • Radish
  • Wasabi
  • Cayenne


The lymphatic system parallels your red blood circulation and removes products of infection, bacteria, virus, and other pathogens from the circulation.

Lymph nodes, found in chains throughout the brain and body, can become tender and swollen as a result of an infection being cleared. The lymph system requires movement in order to function well.

You can promote lymph movement by tapping on your thymus gland 10 times. You can also promote lymph detox by gently using a natural bristle brush or sea sponge and brushing your skin in circular motion from your feet up to your heart, from your neck and finger tips up to your heart.

Cardiovascular exercise, sweating, and breast massage also promote lymph detox.

Foods that support lymph detoxification are:

  • Ginger
  • Turmeric
  • Lemon, lime, and grapefruit
  • Seaweeds
  • Garlic

Adaptogenic herbs that move lymph:

  • Goldenseal
  • Astragalus
  • Echinacea


The large intestine or colon’s job is to excrete chemical solid waste so that it’s not recirculated into the bloodstream. It also houses protective bacteria that make up the body’s ecosystem, called the microbiome.

In order for the colon to detox it needs to get rid of old stool, which half of Americans have in pounds. You can detox the colon by increasing soluble and insoluble fibers, water, edible bentonite clay, probiotics, and gentle herbal or salt laxatives.

Consult your health provider to determine the best strategy for you.

Foods that support colon detoxification include:

  • Lentils
  • Chia seeds
  • Lactofermented foods (sauerkraut, kimchi, apple cider vinegar)
  • Root vegetables like sweet potatoes, beets, turnips
  • Onion and garlics
  • Apples

Fiber and herb sources that move the colon

  • Psyllium
  • Aloe
  • Dandelion


The skin’s role includes the sweating out of toxins. Like your lungs, it can absorb waste and then release it through salty sweat with electrolytes as well as release heat.

We don’t necessarily know all the waste products that are absorbed or released from the skin. But we do know that the skin is our largest living organ, always exchanging oxygen and waste.

All forms of detox benefit the skin, particularly exercise, dry skin brushing, Epsom salt baths, and saunas. Remember to drink water as hydration is key to promoting a healthy sweat.

Foods that support skin detoxification include:

  • Blueberries
  • Purple cabbage
  • Beets
  • Walnuts
  • Sunflower seeds and sun butter

Herbs support skin detoxification include:

  • Oat straw
  • Nettle

By: Dr. Millennia Ruth Lytle, ND, MPH, CNS is a Naturopathic Doctor, Certified Nutritionist

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