What is Detoxing, and Why Should I Consider Doing a Detox?

2 minute read
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“Detox” is all over the internet with a thousand different definitions and a thousand different people telling you what to do. Detox is not just a simple process, though. Here’s how we define the three stages of metabolic detoxification and our reasons to consider a longer, more focused detox with proper nutritional support versus a simple cleanse.

What is Detoxing?

Detoxing is your body’s natural process of identifying, binding, and ridding the body of toxins we’re exposed to on a regular basis.

Our detoxification philosophy here at Standard Process includes either a 28-day or 10-day approach with full nutritional support targeted to the three phases of detox: bioactivation, conjugation, and transport (elimination). Needless to say, supporting your body’s natural process of detoxification with adequate nutrition is not your Pinterest board’s three-day juice cleanse.


Why Should I Detox?

The human body is regularly exposed to environmental toxins – it’s just the way of modern life. Our bodies have a system in place to deal with these toxins, but we can support that process with whole food nutrient solutions known to help throughout the three stages of detox. The detox process is not as simple as some sources on the internet may have you believe; a longer, more focused detox as opposed to a short-and-simple cleanse will do a better job of eliminating toxins from the body. It’s vital that the body is supported with proper nutrition during a metabolic detox, paying especially close attention to the individual needs required during each of the three phases of detox.


Three Phases of Detox

Detoxification begins with bioactivation, continues with conjugation, and concludes with transport (before the process repeats itself as your body engages its natural mechanisms for detoxification).


Your body’s natural detoxification process can be thought of as a “biotransformation” system that identifies, binds, and rids the body of toxins we’re exposed to regularly. Here are some simple ways to tell if you have toxins in your body.

Read on for the three phases of metabolic detoxification accomplished with a nutritionally-supported, targeted detox.

  1. Bioactivation

The first phase of detox is catalyzed by a handful of enzymes, primarily from the cytochrome P450 family (CYP450). In these enzymatic reactions, a reactive group is added to a toxin, generating a reactive site that can easily attach itself to other molecules. During bioactivation, toxins are transformed into reactive intermediates that need quick neutralization.

Cruciferous vegetables like Brussels sprouts, Spanish black radish, and kale activate CYP450 enzymes needed during bioactivation. Antioxidant nutrients like vitamins A, C, and E, minerals like selenium, copper, zinc, and manganese, as well as coenzyme Q10 and several phytonutrients have antioxidant activity that may also support phase one of detox.

  1. Conjugation

During phase two, conjugation enzymes convert the reactive intermediates created during bioactivation into non-toxic, water-soluble molecules. Phase II conjugation enzymes include:

  • Sulfotransferases (SULT)
  • UDP-glucuronosyltransferases (UGT)
  • Glutathione S-transferases (GST)
  • N-acetyltransferases (NAT)


Conjugation uses a lot of energy in the form of ATP and requires robust nutritional support in the form of B vitamins, magnesium, zinc, and other nutrients. Healthy sources of protein are also important for the conjugation phase of detox, specifically the amino acid glycine to help remove toxins.

  1. Transport

During the third and final phase of detox, neutralized toxins are transported, or eliminated, from the body. Transmembrane-spanning proteins are important for phase three transport and require energy in the form of ATP. Urinary pH (scale of acidity to basicity) may impact the elimination of toxins, and adequate water intake supports acid-base balance, which may also promote urinary toxin excretion.

Kara Credle, MA
About the Author

Kara Credle, MA, manages content development and strategy for WholisticMatters.com as the Clinical Nutrition Communication Specialist at Standard Process Inc. Her background is in scientific writing with a focus on biomedical sciences, nutrition, health, and wellness and a passion for translating scientific findings for different audiences.

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