Detox Detractors

August 9, 2011
Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

Award-winning nutritionist and New York Times bestselling author.

57305043Avoid the sinister eight saboteurs.

Excess fat, sugar, refined carbs, gluten, soy protein isolates, alcohol, mold, and dairy are big time detox detractors. They either lower enzyme activity—interrupting the liver’s efforts to transform toxins into nontoxic metabolites—or are linked to a decreased absorption of necessary detox nutrients. They can also create internal inflammation that inhibits your body’s ability to burn fat, where most toxins are stored. Avoid them while dieting and/or detoxing, or you’ll increase your toxic load.

Here’s the inside story.

Saboteur #1. Excess fat, especially trans fats from margarine and processed and fried foods.
Excess fat, especially trans fat, strains both your liver and your colon. You might even cut back on the “good fats” at this time—like peanut butter and almond butter, excessive nuts (such as almonds, peanuts, and cashews), avocados, and even salad dressings, which can be hard for the liver to break down.

Saboteur #2. Sugar and all its relatives, including high-fructose corn syrup, honey, molasses, maple syrup, sugar cane crystals, pure sugar cane juice, evaporated cane juice, dried cane juice, maltodextrin, and all products ending in “-ose” (such as sucrose, dextrose, fructose, and levulose) Also, artificial sweeteners, including aspartame, sucralose or Splenda, and sugar alcohols (such as maltitol, mannitol, sorbitol, and xylitol)
Sugar and other sweeteners, natural or artificial, stress both your liver and your colon. Moreover, both natural sugar and sugar alcohols have the potential to feed yeast—a known liver stressor—because of the aldehydes that are formed.

Saboteur #3. Refined carbohydrates, including white rice and products made from white flour
They are deadly to weight loss. Not only do they inhibit the liver’s detox pathways, but they create those roller-coaster highs and lows in blood sugar, insulin, hunger, and cravings.

Saboteur #4. Gluten, found in wheat, rye, barley, oats, spelt, kamut, and all their products (including bread, pastas, crackers, and crusts), also found in many “low-carb” products (such as packaged cereals, macaroni and cheese, pizza dough mix, spaghetti, shells, tortillas, pancake/waffle mixes, and cookies) and in vegetable proteins, modified food starch, some soy sauces, and distilled vinegars
A highly reactive and allergy-producing substance, this unsuspected toxin can get into your bloodstream and slow your metabolism. Gluten creates a gluey substance that can bind with fat and mucus to cover the intestinal villi and clog your colon.

Saboteur #5. Soy protein isolates, found in low-carb “energy” bars and soy protein powders, and processed soy foods (such as soy milk, soy cheese, soy ice cream, soy hot dogs, and soy burgers)

Soy protein isolates are incomplete proteins that lack the sulfur-bearing amino acids methionine and cysteine. The high-phytic acid is unfermented and processed soy products disrupt mineral absorption and can deplete your supply of zinc, magnesium, and calcium, which you need for liver detox. (Miso and tempeh, which are forms of fermented soy, are fine.)

Saboteur #6. Alcohol; over-the-counter drugs; and caffeine, including coffee, tea, sodas, and chocolate
Alcohol, drugs, and caffeine are liver stressors that tax the detox pathways big time. Definitely ax the alcohol, soft drinks, and colas—as well as both regular and decaffeinated coffee and black and green tea. Sadly, green tea is a no-no because an increasing body of studies has shown that it is contaminated with aluminum fluoride from pesticides and fertilizers. Fluoride cues your organs, including your liver and your brain, to stockpile aluminum, with sometimes disastrous results. Fluoride is also a known thyroid suppressor. With nearly 50 percent of the population suffering from hypothyroidism, and considering all the fluoride you’re consuming in your water, toothpaste, soft drinks, and foods processed with fluoridated water, do you really want to take a chance on “fluoridated” green tea?

Saboteur #7. Mold, found on overly ripe fruits (especially melons, bananas, and tropical fruits)
Mold can stress your liver, so avoid all sources of mold—especially moldy fruit because fruit molds produce mycotoxins that can cause severe liver damage, cancer, breathing problems, or allergic reactions.

Saboteur #8. Dairy
Similar to gluten, dairy-based milk and cheese are common food allergens. They contain casein, a milk protein that can cause irritation and inflammation in your body. Feel free to eat whey, butter, and cream as they are casein-free. Yogurt is also acceptable because the bacteria added to yogurt during the culturing process breaks down the casein, making it easier to digest and less likely to cause an allergic reaction.

Taurine Therapy
Instead of consuming detox detractors, turn to taurine. Taurine is at the top of my list when it comes to counteracting the detox detractors by lightening up on your toxic load. Although found in animal foods, it is the most deficient amino acid when tested for in blood samples and is often lacking in vegetarians. Your body requires more taurine if you’ve been taking oral contraceptives, are under stress, suffer from epilepsy, or are a vegetarian. It’s the major amino that the liver requires to remove chemicals from the body and it uniquely detoxifies solvents, ammonia, chlorine, yeast-based aldehydes, and the by-products of drugs.

The best liver tonic I know that contains taurine is Liver-Lovin Formula. To help overcome chemical sensitivities and allergies, many of my patients take four Liver-Lovin in the morning and four in the evening for two weeks to obtain a loading healing dose of 1,000 mg of taurine. Then they cut back to the recommended dosage of two in the morning and two in the evening.

Related Articles and Podcasts

Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS, is an award-winning New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty books including The Fat Flush Plan series and her latest book, Radical Metabolism. She’s been rewriting the rules of nutrition for more than 40 years and is internationally recognized as a pioneer in the field of diet, detox and women’s health issues. 

For a FREE daily dose of tips and strategies for maintaining healthy weight, conquering insomnia, and much more…check out my Radical Health Tips.

I’d like to meet and greet you on my Facebook groups, so won’t you check us out at the Radical Metabolism RevolutionFat Flush Nation, or my Inner Circle!


  1. Karen

    Your comment about “fluoridated green tea” being contaminated with aluminum fluoride from pesticides and fertilizers makes me wonder.

    If the places that green tea is grown is the same place white tea or even herbal teas are grown — won’t they also be contaminated with the same thing?

    With fluoride so harmful — besides taking Taurine — should we consider only doing organic teas?

    If there was a vote tomorrow to ban: fluoride in water (plus pesticides & fertilizers); and to ban all GMO foods and cultivation in the United States — you could count on my voite.

  2. Janis Aylward

    How about stevia for a sweetener and also I buy the soya in the water is that ok is that temphe soya or what is?

  3. Charlotte Ellis

    After reading this, I’m wondering what we CAN eat. Protein, veggies, and H20 only. It would be nice after reading your articles if you would publish foods to eat!

  4. Jeanne

    Will taking this in the am interfere with my thyroid medication? I take it first thing on an empty stomach

  5. Elisa

    Charlotte, I agree! What CAN you eat? Seems the list is very short. What do you do if you travel? You have little control over what goes into your food even if you make special requests (which I often do). I think the spirit of this is great but it isn’t very practical at all.

  6. Michele

    I think this list is great. I think dining out is always difficult. But, good choices are about doing what you can on an every day, day-to-day, basis. What you do once in a while, like when on vacation, isn’t going to derail me. I just get back on my “better life horse,” and keep on my trail.

  7. elivia

    Charlotte And Eliza thanks for your honest comments! While I respect Anne Louise Gittelman and learn from her, especially her earlier books…well, I just feel totally overwhelmed reading stuff like this. No avocado, almonds, that wonderful Ezekiel bread once recommended, or good rye or spelt bread. All the stuff on the list I do eat. I sit here imagining my gummed up gooed up internal organs! And how difficult I find it every day to just do SOME of this right. I feel pretty depressed..

  8. Miriam

    I agree with Michele. There is not anything on this list that we aren’t somewhat aware of anyways and I am personally thankful for the reminder. The title here is “detox detractors” and doesn’t suggest to use this as a lifestyle eating plan. I really appreciate how generous ALG is with her diet information. She has written over a dozen books on food with lots of recipes, menu plans, and shopping lists. She provides lots of food tips on her facebook fan page, too, and even answers personal questions. I don’t know any other diet guru of her caliber that does this.

  9. Miriam

    Sounds like some soy sauces and distilled vinegars means “some soy sauces and some distilled vinegars” – a minor point – but looks like what ALG intended in the first place.

    Since the concept of Detox Detractors is fully explained with the Detox Enhancers from Fast Track Detox Diet, I bet you will be seeing a full list of all the powerfoods you can eat!

  10. Sierra

    As for food allergens, Dr. Ann Louise has great protocols for finding out if you are indeed sensitive to certain carbohydrates, gluten, soy, diary, etc- and there is also testing available as well to get a definitive answer. Please look to ‘The Fat Flush Plan’ and ‘The Gut Flush Plan’ for these protocols.
    Also, any detox should not be done for more than 2 weeks at a time. Part of Fat Flush is a two week detox, during which you avoid all the above listed detox detractors. If you have no sensitivities, you are able to add back dairy and gluten and tempeh or miso after your detox.
    These are not foods to completely nix from your diet. These are foods to avoid during a two week detox if you want optimal results.

  11. Suzanne

    Living in today’s society makes following this plan nearly impossible and unrealistic. The cranwater is very acidic and made my weight loss effort worse. This is why most diets don’t work; they restrict foods and give choices that are unrealistic, inconvenient and taste boring!

  12. Sierra

    I disagree- I think the Fat Flush Plan is fabulous- and not just a diet but a lifestyle eating plan with good, sound science behind it. I enjoy preparing my meals with fresh and healthy ingredients, adding herbs and spices to liven up even the most basic meals. This plan gives us so many options and ways to be creative. I think it’s very important that we are informed about the foods we eat and that we take responsibility for making healthy choices and demanding healthy products. I’m thankful that Dr. Ann Louise shares her knowledge with us- tho we must keep in mind that these are general recommendations and of course all of us are a bit different and will need to customize to fit ourselves.

  13. carol

    So, is organic green tea ok? I love ALG’s books and this blog, and some of her recommendations have been life-changing for me!

  14. Sierra

    Tea in general tends to be very high in copper, which can lead to fatigue, hormone imbalance, and weight gain. Roasted dandelion root tea, however, is okay to drink 🙂

  15. Angela

    Thanks again ALG. I took your advice and have gone without all of the above detox detractors you recommended. Just by eliminating them I have lost 7 lbs in two weeks. No other advice seems to work like others. Thanks again!

  16. liz

    Angela: Great to hear that you have lost weight eliminating the detractors. It does makes such a difference.

  17. Anne

    This is the first time I’ve seen xylitol as a detox detractor. I have been using it, albeit rarely, instead of any other kinds of sweeteners and recommending it to my customers. I thought I was using the right stuff! Maybe I’ll try stevia next. I only use it occasional y. Macular degeneration runs in our family ~ four of the ten siblings have it, so we are extremely careful about sugar. I had read thata xylitol was good for the gums and teeth. Hmmmmmm. more research………….

  18. liz

    Anne: It is best to avoid anything that can cause an insulin or yeast response. Xylitol in toothpaste or mouthwash could have a bacteria ‘ washing” effect without ngesting much.


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