What to Eat to Reduce Your Toxic Exposure

Image Credit: Feliciano Guimaraes / Flickr. This image has been modified.

What to Eat to Reduce Our Toxic Exposure

It is not very common that a single molecule attracts enough interest to merit international scientific conferences of its own. “Ah receptor,” however, “belongs to the rare elite of such molecules.” Ah receptors are an important factor in how our immune system works. For background, see my video, The Broccoli Receptor: Our First Line of Defense. The latest conference offered “new reports about the way plant-derived compounds in our diet are necessary for a fully functioning immune system of the gut.” One study in particular out of the journal Nature, “expanded our understanding of how diet impacts immunity and health by showing that a plant-derived nutrient profoundly shapes the capacity for intestinal immune defense.” And intestinal defense not only protects us against the pathogens we may ingest, but also against toxic chemicals.

We’re constantly exposed to a wide range of toxins, from such sources as cigarette smoke, exhaust fumes, furnace gases, cooked meat and fish, cow’s milk, and even mother’s milk (because of what mothers themselves are exposed to) as seen in my video Counteracting the Effects of Dioxins Through Diet. Many of these pollutants exert their toxic effects through the Ah receptor system. For example, dioxins invade the body mainly through the diet (where we get more than 90% of our exposure) as it concentrates through the food chain, presenting a serious health concern. But there are phytonutrients in fruits, vegetables, tea, red wine, and beans that block the effects of dioxins at levels close to what we find in people’s bloodstream. Just three apples or about a tablespoon of red onion a day may cut dioxin toxicity in half. And the half-life of these phytonutrients in the body is only about 25 hours, so we have to keep eating these health-promoting foods day after day.

At first we just thought that it was only cruciferous vegetables that could dock in these receptors and fend off toxins, but does that make evolutionary sense? As Lora V. Hooper from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute notes, “Given the variety and flexibility of most mammalian diets, a specific dependence on cruciferous vegetables for optimal intestinal immune function would seem overly restrictive. Rather, it seems likely that many other foods contain compounds with similar immune-stimulatory properties.”

Indeed, “the search for foods containing similar immunomodulatory compounds has begun.” We now know that a wide variety of natural plant compounds can counteract the chemical pollution to which we’re all exposed. There is actually one animal product that has also been shown to potentially block the cancer-causing effects of dioxins: camel urine. Camel urine—but not cow urine—was found to inhibit the effects of a known carcinogenic chemical. Importantly, the researchers emphasize that virgin camel urine showed the highest degree of inhibition, performing better than pregnant camel urine, for example. So the next time our kids don’t want to eat their fruits and veggies, we can just say, “It’s either that, or camel pee.”

I report different mechanisms but similar outcomes in Plants vs. Pesticides and Eating Green to Prevent Cancer. So this all suggests a double benefit of eating lower on the food chain, since it would also entail lower exposure to toxic contaminants in the first place (Industrial Pollutants in Vegans).

How Chemically Contaminated Are We? Check out the CDC Report on Environmental Chemical Exposure. Where are dioxins found so we can avoid them in the first place? See Dioxins in the Food Supply.

-Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here and watch my full 2012 – 2015 presentations Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death, More than an Apple a Day, From Table to Able, and Food as Medicine.


Michael Greger M.D., FACLM

Michael Greger, M.D. FACLM, is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous "meat defamation" trial.

26 responses to “What to Eat to Reduce Our Toxic Exposure

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  1. I’m still keenly curious to know if these ah receptors benefit from frozen broccoli or if I need to be adding mustard powder to my cruciferous veggies to activate the ah benefit. For a variety of reasons, I’m not able to include fresh veggies in my diet and have to rely on frozen, so I really do need to know if I’m missing out on this ah benefit. (Why don’t I just add the mustard powder anyway, especially for the sulphorophane? Because I can’t tolerate the taste. But if I learn that it’s required for this ah receptor benefit, I guess I’ll just have to make myself enjoy it.)

  2. I want to know who got a grant to study camel urine and who provided the funding. Sounds like something the Australians would do while drinking way too many beers in the Outback!

    1. If you look closely at the study, you will find that all involved were Moslems (Alhaider AA1, El Gendy MA, Korashy HM, El-Kadi AO.).
      There is a great need for Moslems to support the practice of drinking Camel urine (some times mixed with Camel’s milk) that was prevalent in Arabia and was advocated by the prophet of Islam.
      I am surprised Dr. Greger did not look closely at this and discard this heavily biased study, but I guess the novelty of it was too much for the good doctor to ignore :)

    1. marijuana known to trigger and/or be directly implicated in causing schizophrenia. I’ve known too many people who have stated very clearly that marijuana use directly made them go crazy. Not everyone can handle this drug, apparently. And there is science published that has raised valid concerns from a causative standpoint for marijuana triggering schizophrenia. I’m not picking a fight (pro-pot vs. anti-pot). No, nothing like that.

      1. Uh okay… Just because it’s triggering for some people, doesn’t mean it doesn’t cure cancer or arthritis or whatever. Garlic’s really good for you, but triggering for people with GI issues. Would still love review of clinical literature on it.

        1. Arthritis cure…..I’d suggest eliminating all nightshade foods 100%, as well as well as fried foods (corn chips are fried!) and processed grains such as white rice and other high GI grains.

      2. You are correct. The schizophrenia, characterized by hallucinations and delusions and an inability to think coherently. does not reverse when the victim stops smoking in most cases. Leaving a lifelong disability for some.

        Every choice has a risk benefit assessment but people should be allowed to think about this issue.

  3. re camel urine in the middle east..Traditionally,each locality uses the food stuffs they have at hand for healing. Just as First Nations peoples, Mongolian nomads and the early Egyptians had immense knowledge of local plants and herbs and other organic medical treatments, so did the Arab cultures. You may want to know that the earliest treatise on western medicine was written by an Arab man, Ibn Sinner, in the 800’s. Western medicine gained enormously from his knowledge. Arabs in the 800’s had a highly sophisticated society, immense knowledge of science, mathematics, physics, sound, while Europe was in the dark ages, people weren’t bathing, and were sick and dying. We inherited our numeral system from them, the basics of astrology, and many other intellectual gifts of wonder. I wouldn’t throw out the research on camel urine because the researchers have Arabic names.

    1. Sorry, but even when this isn’t on topic I felt it was necessary to
      reply because a lot of people don’t seem to know, that most of what you
      mention was originated in India, not the Arabian peninsula. Once they
      invaded India, as a growing empire, the knowledge reached other places
      though them.

      And what was the highly sophisticated society in Arabia at the year 800? They had the Sharia ruling their society.

      ancient Middle East cultures were advanced, (pre islamic times) they
      fell in economic decadence even before the arrival of Islam. No much was
      left by the time of Mohamed, and what remained was destroyed.

      1. Please do your research before you post something so offensive. Pre Islamic time the rich used to own slaves they did unspeakable thing to them and the Islam came and freed all of the slaves. Women were also a property (slaves used for procreational purposes and entertainment). Even worse, new born females used to get boiled or buried alive. All that stopped after Islam. Now I understand why you would think it’s a horrible religion but remember every religion had extremist who made their religion look bad.
        Most importantly most of the old Arabic medicine was destroyed because of wars that proceeds the Islamic time.

        1. I said nothing offensive, unless you consider offensive the fact that
          Sharia (the Islamic law code) ruled the Arabian peninsula. I asked you
          to present proof that it was the highly sophisticated society that you
          claim. Arabia 800 AD, present your data.

          It was actually you the
          one with comments like this: “while Europe was in the dark ages, people
          weren’t bathing, and were sick and dying.”

          That not only are
          ignorant myths but clearly there is animosity on your part that I opted
          not to comment in my previous answer. I only hope that you are not
          confusing the bubonic plague, which arrived with the Mongol invasions from central Asia.

          Let’s read real mediaevalist experts to know what went on:

          Those Terrible Middle Ages: Debunking the Myths

          And the position of women during the period (status that was lost
          when the Roman customs were brought back with the Renaissance)

          Women in the Days of the Cathedrals

          If you read those books you won’t need sites explaining this, but since you didn’t here we go:

          “As for “yearly baths,” the idea that medieval people rarely bathed is a persistent but false one.
          Most people washed themselves on a regular basis. Going without washing
          was considered a penance even in the early Middle Ages. Soap, possibly
          invented by the Gauls sometime before Christ, was in widespread use
          throughout Europe by the end of the ninth century, and made its first
          appearance in cake form in the twelfth century.”

          never forget that the time you see so “obscure” was really the time
          when universities were invented and built… in that heinous Europe,
          nonetheless. :)

          Now FYI, slavery is perfectly lawful under Sharia
          law (and still in practice in several Muslim countries). Mohamed had
          his own share of slaves as it is well know, since this is common
          knowledge I wont bring details here, but if you still doubt it, I can
          provide abundant proof.

          See more about Islam and slavery:


          Here a book with the details of the last one:


          In this one was involved US

          And here an example of present time slavery in the Muslim world:

          would like to see your data regarding the horrible practices you relate
          in such vivid detail, in the pre-Islamic Arabian peninsula. Because
          what it is know, points to a different direction.

          They had a great pantheon of goddesses and gods, with even a main goddess.

          See for example https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dilmun

          is also described in the epic story of Enki and Ninhursag as the site
          at which the Creation occurred. The later Babylonian Enuma Elish, speaks
          of the creation site as the place where the mixture of salt water,
          personified as Tiamat met and mingled with the fresh water of Abzu.
          Bahrein in Arabic means “the twin waters”, where the fresh water of the
          Arabian aquifer mingles with the salt waters of the Persian Gulf. The
          promise of Enki to Ninhursag, the Earth Mother:

          For Dilmun, the land of my lady’s heart, I will create long
          waterways, rivers and canals, whereby water will flow to quench the
          thirst of all beings and bring abundance to all that lives.

          Ninlil, the Sumerian goddess of air and south wind had her home in Dilmun. It is also featured in the Epic of Gilgamesh.

          See also another main goddess https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astarte

          Pre-Islamic religion in Arabia consisted of indigenous polytheistic beliefs, Nestorian Christianity, Judaism and Zoroastrianism.
          Nestorian Christianity was the dominant religion in Eastern Arabia
          prior to the advent of Islam. In the latter stages of the pre-Islamic
          era, Christianity gained converts with some unorthodox sects, such as
          the gnostics having a presence.

          the polytheist cults were the types I mentioned above, and there the
          rest of religions in the pre-Islamic Arabian peninsula, none of those
          has the practices you mentioned, nor were women in worse plight that
          under Islam, but everything points to the opposite.


          (Sorry everyone for being off topic)

            1. Yes, I provided sources disproving what you claimed.

              While we are still waiting you to back up your claims with *any* data.

              1 – 800 AD Arabian peninsula, “a highly sophisticated society.” Prove it.

              2 – Prove your other claim: “Pre Islamic time the rich used to own slaves they did unspeakable thing to them and the Islam came and freed all of the slaves. Women were also a property (slaves used for procreational purposes and entertainment). Even worse, new born females used to get boiled or buried alive. All that stopped after Islam.”

              Hard data, prove it. Distraction tactics won’t work.

              Pretty ironic when women are in FACT property in the Islamic world. They are slaves per se in their own societies. Besides, formal slavery is perfectly lawful under Sharia, and practiced today. See Mauritania and Sudan just to begin. (I linked at the very least the situation in Mauritania, around a quarter of the population are slaves)

              Of course, they might not apply Sharia law to its full extend, and a government might discretionary make it “unlawful” But is is perfectly lawful under Sharia law. And in practice, they do little to end it.

        2. Deana, didn’t Mohammed permit raping of captive women in front of their husbands? Didn’t ISIS do exactly that to Yazidi women & THEN make them into sex slaves? Are there Muslim fathers who murder their daughters if they have a relationship outside of marriage? Is that Islamic liberation? Are the European women going to ISIS being used for procreational purposes? WHO would boil or bury new born female infants? Would you be talking about ARABS? Did ANY other people do such things? Can you name ANYTHING POSITIVE about Islam? ANYTHING?

          1. Actually the people in the Arabian peninsula were the first victims of Islam. They opposed Mohamed, it took him a long time. Not to mention the Christians, Zoroastrians and Hebrews there, all of them who didn’t convert — once Mohamed managed to get the cult going after many years of trying and had enough people — proceed to kill on the spot everyone of those who didn’t convert. Women and children were taken as slaves for enjoyment.

            See the beginning of what happened here:

            Aisha and Muhammad – The MovieThe life of Mohammed found in the Sira (his biography) and the Hadith (his traditions) is a great story – sex, violence, war, assassinations, rape, spies and secret agents. One of the best known features of the story is his marriage to Aisha, aged 6.


            Now I can imagine some would be thinking “but what about the crusades?”

            Here we go: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I_To-cV94Bo&feature=youtu.be

            Yet I find the video lacking because only dealt with a small part of what the Islam was doing, we only see the Mediterranean there. What was going on in Asia is not show. I can imagine would be too much work, see the number of battles just in that region.

            1. Thule, I appreciate your idea of Arabian peninsula residents being Mohammed’s first victims. I’ve actually already seen this clip on Jihad vs. Crusades!!! It shows Islam as being colonialist conquerors while the Christians “merely” wished to wrest the Holy Land from Muslims. The thing is that Spain, France, the Vikings, the BRITISH, et al made up for lost time later w/their extensive colonies on other people’s land around the world (remember the British attack on the Falkland Islands???). The 22 Arab countries include the Arabization (read “ethnic cleansing,” if you will) of Coptic Egypt, Berber Morocco, Algeria, Tunis (the whole Maghreb), Phonecian Lebanon, Mesopotamian Iraq et al & that’s not including the 44 MUSLIM nations! HOWEVER, in the name of Truth, the primitive European Christian Crusaders who met & battled the more advanced Middle Eastern Muslims (Arabs, Kurds, etc.) returned to Europe with more advanced ideas to pushed Europe into the Renaissance, while the Muslims ironically became fossilized, possibly until today. But if you are getting excited about Europe somehow being more enlightened, the archives & interviews of East European communism are now available & show East Europe communists to not be any less barbaric than Muslims. Even worse, there are strong & direct links between those Eastern European communists (MOSCOW) & SOCIALISTS in WESTERN EUROPE (Mitterand & his ilk who ended up running Western Europe). In reading this data it becomes abundantly clear that concerns with human rights was only a ploy to further the agenda of their crushing system. See Claire Berlinski’s A Hidden History of Evil as well as Louis Menand’s Bloc Heads: Life Behind the Iron Curtain. Humanity has to search for new models.

              1. While the Islam empire had access to knowledge (by accessing what was in the conquered areas), au contraire of what is thought didn’t preserve much of it. By the time of the First Crusade Europe wasn’t behind in any way, and what they lacked before was the economics means to face such empire.

                The Renaissance happened as this site candidly puts it:

                “As the Middle Ages wound down, Florence’s pockets were bulging thanksto its textile industry. By the 15th century, Florence was like Wall Street before the subprime bubble burst: lots of people getting rich, not by perpetually toiling but simply by moving income around. Merchants and bankerssuddenly possessed the ability to make it rain like only kings, popes, and unhappy druidic weather-gods could before. They also possessed something entirely novel at this point in human history: the leisure time to appreciate things.

                So they looked around themselves … and found jack-all to appreciate. They needed something to fill the void until we could get the Internet up and running, so they turned to art. Sculptures, paintings, and frescoes found a much wider audience than ever before, and artists were suddenly in high demand. We, as a species, were well aware of much of the knowledge attributed to the Renaissance. It hadn’t necessarily been lost or neglected for thousands of years — we just kind of lump it in as being “rediscovered” at the time because there were a lot of new paintings of robust naked women and sketches of death machines coming out. It must have been an era of enlightenment.”

                Actually the High Medieval period had two main characteristics that would lead to the Renaissance, money thanks to trade, and cultural splendour. And because of that capacity, the First Crusade was feasible. (Not the other way around)

                I agree with you fully regarding the European expansionism, and about communism. And yes it is documented how the URRSS worked to indoctrinate the world (subvertly most of the time). The topic is very long. Amazingly, so long after the fall of the Berlin Wall, people is still being captivated. Problem is most people never read history, and keep falling for the same siren’s call. I could recommend a lot of books, but this one stands out (so many people still revere this mass killer) http://www.amazon.com/Mao-Unknown-Story-Jung-Chang/dp/0679746323

                And for economics and the defence of the individual, The Mises Institute https://mises.org/

            1. Deana Mohiealdeen,
              It sounds like ISIS based their raping of married Yezidi women they captured on Mohammed’s personal instructions, do you support Mohammed’s permission to rape married women as stated here?
              The hadiths in Chapter 29 say that after a victory for the Muslims at the Battle of Hanain, and in response to the fact that Muhammad’s soldiers “seemed to refrain from having intercourse with captive women,” Muhammad produced Qur’an 4:24’s statement about slave girls/captive women,
              And all married women (are forbidden unto you) save those (captives) whom your right hands possess…

        3. Deana Mohiealdeen: Heads up, what do you think is going to happen to Arabs & Islam when all of the oil reserves in Arab countries dry up? Well, notice that the US pays for Arab oil in DOLLARS. Also notice what happened to the two oil-rich nations who insisted that Am pay in gold. One was Hussein’s Iraq, the second was Qadhafi’s Libya. Both were INVADED BY AM!!! Now, why do you think that happened? Hint, paper dollars can lose value, but gold is a lot more stable. When the oil well runs dry, the Arabs will be booted (most likely by themselves) back to the prehistoric age.

  4. I would have preferred that the bit on camel urine was omitted. We don’t need to encourage testing on any more animals. Sometimes a bit of humor can do harm.

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