Detox Support: How Cruciferous Vegetables Help‡

Learn how vegetables may help your body naturally detox and cleanse

Your body is incredibly intelligent. It is constantly working to keep you healthy and balanced. This natural detoxification process is critical to ensuring your health.1


Your built-in natural detoxification process involves the liver, kidneys, digestive system, skin, and lungs. Together these organs and systems work behind-the-scenes to eliminate toxins, byproducts, foreign substances, chemicals, and waste substances.1

However, while your body has its own built-in detoxification process, there are times when it may need extra support.2
Hint: you do not need to fast or follow a restrictive diet.

Eating cruciferous vegetables, staying hydrated, moving your body, getting enough sleep, and paying attention to your body signals go a longway in supporting your body’s natural detoxification process.

Keep reading to learn:

  • How your body detoxes
  • About the 3 phases of detoxification
  • How cruciferous vegetables help your body detox
  • Lifestyle habits to support your body’s natural detox process

As always, feel free to contact us with your questions about our vitamins, supplements, and other products.

How Does Your Body Detox?

Your liver is the primary organ involved in detoxication, but other organs also play an essential role in the process, including your digestive tract, kidney, lungs, skin, and lymphatic system.3

Everyday you encounter potentially harmful compounds from the outside world through your skin, lungs, and digestive system. You also create toxic byproducts as a normal part of metabolism. Detoxification is the process by which your body neutralizes and removes these products, so they don't cause any damage or detrimental health effects.4

Most toxins go through phases I, II, and III in order to be eliminated from the body:5

  1. Phase I: the cytochrome P450 superfamily of enzymes (CYP450) is generally the first defense employed by the body to biotransform xenobiotics, steroid hormones, and pharmaceuticals. These microsomal membrane-bound, heme-thiolate proteins, located mainly in the liver, but also in enterocytes, kidneys, lung, and even the brain, are responsible for the oxidation, peroxidation, and reduction of several endogenous and exogenous substrates.2

    Toxins are converted into smaller substances that can be more easily removed or detoxed. This is when toxins are converted into water-soluble compounds.2

  2. Phase II: results in a xenobiotic that has been transformed into a water-soluble compound that can be excreted through urine, stool, or bile.

    Six different pathways (glucuronidation, acetylation, esterification, amino acid conjugation, sulfation, and glutathione conjugation) ensure the removal of these water-soluble compounds from your body.

  3. Phase III: transporter activity involves the transport of substances across cellular barriers such as in the liver, gastrointestinal tract, kidneys, and blood-brain barrier. In the liver, transporters move glutathione, sulphate, and glucuronide conjugates out of cells into the bile for elimination. In the kidneys and intestine, they can remove xenobiotics from the blood for excretion from the body. This phase mediates the elimination of substances including conjugated xenobiotics and pharmaceutical drugs.

    The water-soluble compounds are sent to your kidneys for additional filtration and then removed as urine through your bladder, bile in your small intestine, or stool in your digestive tract.6


These scientific explanations of the 3 phases of detoxification underscore the importance of having a balanced detoxification process. For some compounds, if phase II is inefficient, the reactive compounds created in phase I may build up and affect cellular function. Phase III is equally important since without excretion, your body cannot eliminate water-soluble compounds and byproducts. Any imbalance can lead to health concerns, including oxidative stress, gut health disruptions, hormone imbalances, and more.

How Cruciferous Vegetables May Help Your Body Detox

Cruciferous vegetables may help your body detox because they are rich in glucosinolates. Two primary metabolites of glucosinolates, sulforaphane and DIM, promote the detoxification process.

Broccoli, cauliflower, kale, bok choy, turnips, radishes, and dark leafy greens are examples of cruciferous vegetables.

Recent studies show the benefits of the glucosinolates in these vegetables to support the natural detoxification system.10 ‡

Keep reading to learn how the sulforaphane and DIM in cruciferous vegetables help your body detox and the best ways to consume these nutrients.10 ‡

1. The Scientific Evidence on Sulforaphane and Detoxification

Sulforaphane is a natural sulfur-containing metabolite of glucosinolates in cruciferous vegetables.

  • This naturally occurring compound is widely studied for its health benefits, including acting as an antioxidant and supporting
  • Sulforaphane promotes healthy detoxification balance through its actions on phase II detoxification pathways.
  • Studies tell us that sulforaphane plays a role in turning up the transformation process in phase II.14 ‡
  • Sulforaphane promotes the upregulation of nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2). Nrf2 is a transcription factor activated in response to oxidative stressand certain chemical exposures. It supports the expression of hundreds of genes involved in detoxification (especially phase IIenzymes) and cellular antioxidant protection.15 ‡
2. The Scientific Evidence on DIM and Detoxification

Certain glucosinolates are metabolized to indole-3-carbinol (I3C). Your stomach acid converts this compound DIM (diindolylmethane).

  • DIM is recognized for a range of health benefits similar to those of sulforaphane, including phase II detoxification support and cellular health. DIM also helps to balance estrogen metabolism.
  • Studies suggest that DIM can promote the upregulation of genes.17 ‡
  • DIM supplementation may be especially supportive for the detoxification of women’s hormones, especially estrogen. DIM supports a healthy balance of estrogen metabolism.
The Best Ways to Access and Absorb Sulforaphane and DIM

The good news is that these cruciferous vegetables are all excellent sources of glucosinolates (precursors of both sulforaphane and DIM):

  • Arugula
  • Bok choy
  • Broccoli, broccoli rabe, and broccoli sprouts
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Chinese cabbage
  • Collard greens
  • Daikon radish
  • Kale
  • Kohlrabi
  • Mizuna
  • Mustard greens
  • Radishes
  • Rutabaga
  • Turnips
  • Watercress

How you prepare these nutrient-rich vegetables impacts the amount of nutrients you absorb. While heating these cruciferous vegetables increases absorption, overheating can destroy glucosinolates.21

For example, based on research into the preparation of broccoli and the availability of sulforaphane, steaming is the best way to prepare broccoli for maximum nutrient bioavailability.

While it’s always ideal to obtain sulforaphane and DIM from the foods like cruciferous vegetables, this might not always be possible. In this case, supplements can be a way to get a higher amount of these nutrients as a compliment to your food sources.

Sulforaphane and DIM supplements are available in a variety of forms, from powders to capsules. However, you should consult with a health care practitioner to ensure you’re getting the proper form and dosage for your individual needs.

8 Lifestyle Habits to Support the Natural Detoxification Process

To help support the natural detoxification process, try to incorporate these 8 lifestyle habits into your daily routine:

  1. Limit alcohol. Drinking too much alcohol affects your liver’s ability to function properly, impacting its ability to support detoxification.
  2. Focus on sleep. When you sleep, your brain is busy recharging and recovering from the day and eliminating toxins that have built-up throughout the day.
  3. Stay hydrated. Water is critical in helping you remove toxins through peeing, sweating, and breathing.
  4. Limit the amount of sugary and processed foods you eat. Eating too many sugary and processed foods is linked to a range of health conditions including obesity and type 2 diabetes. These health conditions can affect detoxification process.
  5. Eat antioxidant-rich foods. Eating foods like berries, fruit, nuts, and vegetables and drinking coffee and green tea with high levels of antioxidants can help reduce free radical damage and promote detoxification.
  6. Eat foods high in prebiotics. The microbiome or gut health is essential to keeping the detoxification process balanced. Prebiotics from foods like tomatoes, garlic, bananas, oats, and onions help your body produce essential short-chain fatty acids.
  7. Lower your salt intake. If you eat too much salt and don’t drink enough water, your body responds by preventing you from peeing – a key detoxification process. Try to lower your salt intake, drink more water, and add in potassium-rich foods such as potatoes, bananas, and spinach to balance out the impacts of salt.
  8. Get active. There is no denying the health benefits of physical activity. From helping to lower the risks of a range of health conditions to strengthening your muscles and bones to lowering inflammation – exercise is win-win.

Lifestyle Balance for Detoxification Support

Like most things in life, detoxing comes down to balance. You need to keep your body’s built-in detoxification process in balance. As you know, if one phase of the detoxification process is impaired, there are trickle-down impacts to the rest of the process.

There is no quick-fix or magic detox diet that will help you detox your body or balance the detoxification process.

Focus on living a balanced and healthy lifestyle, eating a diet high in nutrient-rich foods like cruciferous vegetables, and giving your body the extra support as needed with supplements.

Use our Purely For You personalized supplement plan to provide you with tailored wellness recommendations to meet your specific nutritional needs.

Remember, we are here to support you in achieving optimal personal wellness. Subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date with the latest news, promotions, and nutritional/lifestyle content Purely For You.


  1.  The dubious practice of detox: Harvard Health Publishing. (Accessed September 8, 2021) https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-dubious-practice-of-detox

  2.  Hodges, E. Romilly, Deanna M. Minich. “Modulation of Metabolic Detoxification Pathways Using Foods and Food-Derived Components: A Scientific Review with Clinical Application.” Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, Volume 2015, Article ID 760689. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/jnme/2015/760689/

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  4.  Raunio, Hannu, Mira Kuusisto, Risto O. Juvonen, and Olli T. Pentikäinen. “Modeling of Interactions between Xenobiotics and Cytochrome P450 (CYP) Enzymes.” Frontiers in Pharmacology 6 (June 12, 2015). https://doi.org/10.3389/fphar.2015.00123.

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  9.  Orešič, Matej, Aidan McGlinchey, Craig E. Wheelock, and Tuulia Hyötyläinen. “Metabolic Signatures of the Exposome-Quantifying the Impact of Exposure to Environmental Chemicals on Human Health.” Metabolites 10, no. 11 (November 10, 2020). https://doi.org/10.3390/metabo10110454.

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  13.  Egner, Patricia A., Jian-Guo Chen, Adam T. Zarth, Derek K. Ng, Jin-Bing Wang, Kevin H. Kensler, Lisa P. Jacobson, et al. “Rapid and Sustainable Detoxication of Airborne Pollutants by Broccoli Sprout Beverage: Results of a Randomized Clinical Trial in China.” Cancer Prevention Research (Philadelphia, Pa.) 7, no. 8 (August 2014): 813–23. https://doi.org/10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-14-0103.

  14.  Riedl, Marc A., Andrew Saxon, and David Diaz-Sanchez. “Oral Sulforaphane Increases Phase II Antioxidant Enzymes in the Human Upper Airway.” Clinical Immunology (Orlando, Fla.) 130, no. 3 (March 2009): 244–51. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.clim.2008.10.007.

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  21.  Fahey, Jed W., W. David Holtzclaw, Scott L. Wehage, Kristina L. Wade, Katherine K. Stephenson, and Paul Talalay. “Sulforaphane Bioavailability from Glucoraphanin-Rich Broccoli: Control by Active Endogenous Myrosinase.” PloS One 10, no. 11 (2015): e0140963. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0140963.

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