With about 85,000 industrial chemicals now in use, your liver, kidneys, lungs, colon, lymph system, and skin need support getting rid of contaminants, says Gerald Wootan, DO, authorof Detox Diets for Dummies (Wiley, 2010). Once a year, take stock and get back on track with these daily detox guidelines, he says. Start by drinking plenty of purified water—about 64 ounces, or a half-gallon, daily—and choosing a gentle cleansing supplement. Look for milk thistle, artichoke leaf, and turmeric for boosting liver function, wormwood and rhubarb for the colon.


Lean, mostly vegetable protein. Protein’s amino acids help the liver begin to break down fat-soluble contaminants such as pesticides. Good, complete protein sources include buckwheat, hemp seed, quinoa, soy, spirulina, legumes, organic chicken, and grass-fed beef. Eat protein with every meal.

Crucifers. Broccoli, broccoli sprouts, brussels sprouts, kale, and cabbage contain sulforaphane, a compound that boosts production of glutathione, a key detoxifying liver enzyme. Eat at least two servings daily.

USDA Organic produce. Steer clear of the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” list of conventionally grown, pesticide-laden fruits and vegetables: peaches, apples, sweet bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, pears, grapes, spinach, lettuce, and potatoes.

Citrus. Vitamin C in limes, lemons, oranges, and grapefruit promotes production of bile, which carries toxins out of the body. To supplement, start with 1,000 mg and increase by 500 mg increments to as high as 3,000–4,000 mg, says Wootan. Reduce dose if loose stools result.


High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). In a recent test of products with HFCS as a top ingredient, nearly one-third contained mercury.

Farmed salmon. Due to contaminants in their feed, most farmed salmon contain more toxins than wild salmon. Search for “seafood selector” at edf.org for a list of the best and worst fish.

Animal fat. Pesticide residues, antibiotics, steroids, and hormones accumulate in the fatty tissue of conventionally raised cattle. Choose grass-fed or organic beef and dairy.

Alcohol. Limit to 2 to 3 ounces (the amount a healthy liver can break down in one hour) daily.