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Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism
Volume 2015, Article ID 760689, 23 pages
Review Article

Modulation of Metabolic Detoxification Pathways Using Foods and Food-Derived Components: A Scientific Review with Clinical Application

1University of Bridgeport, 126 Park Avenue, Bridgeport, CT 07748, USA
2Institute for Functional Medicine, 505 S. 336th Street, Suite 500, Federal Way, WA 98003, USA
3University of Western States, 2900 NE 132nd Avenue, Portland, OR 97230, USA

Received 5 January 2015; Accepted 20 March 2015

Academic Editor: H. K. Biesalski

Copyright © 2015 Romilly E. Hodges and Deanna M. Minich. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Research into human biotransformation and elimination systems continues to evolve. Various clinical and in vivo studies have been undertaken to evaluate the effects of foods and food-derived components on the activity of detoxification pathways, including phase I cytochrome P450 enzymes, phase II conjugation enzymes, Nrf2 signaling, and metallothionein. This review summarizes the research in this area to date, highlighting the potential for foods and nutrients to support and/or modulate detoxification functions. Clinical applications to alter detoxification pathway activity and improve patient outcomes are considered, drawing on the growing understanding of the relationship between detoxification functions and different disease states, genetic polymorphisms, and drug-nutrient interactions. Some caution is recommended, however, due to the limitations of current research as well as indications that many nutrients exert biphasic, dose-dependent effects and that genetic polymorphisms may alter outcomes. A whole-foods approach may, therefore, be prudent.