Discover the ultimate guide on how to detox your body. Learn about the benefits of detoxification, address common concerns, explore the best modalities and foods to support detox, and gain insights into detoxing different organs. Begin your journey to optimal wellness with tips and advice from leading experts in both the western and eastern medicine world.
When it comes to achieving your health goals, the idea of a clean slate can sound promising. In search of a fresh start, you might find yourself wondering how to detox your body, or if it is even possible to do so.
The truth is, the human body has several systems in place that are designed to filter out unwanted toxins. But unfortunately, the wellness culture leads many to think that they can DIY detox. While that’s not exactly how detox works, there is a sweet spot where you can nurture the organs that do the detox-heavy-lifting to promote overall health and vitality.
In this blog post, we’ll explain the different detox systems in the body and how to support them. Plus, we’ll take a closer look at popular detox practices.
What is detoxification?
In the scope of general health, detoxification is defined as the process of eliminating toxins or other unwanted substances from the body.
Given that there are many misconceptions around detox, it’s important to also understand what detox is not. Detox is not a:
- body flush
- cure-all solution
- replacement for medical treatments or prescription medications
- weight loss strategy
Think of detox as something that your body is already doing. The body works around the clock to help prevent the build up of substances that can have a negative impact on your health.
What are we detoxing from?
As mentioned, the goal of detox is to rid the body of toxins and unwanted substances.
It is nearly inevitable to avoid exposure to toxins and unwanted substances. In fact, most people are exposed to a combination of environmental toxins on a daily basis. Usually, exposure happens from breathing in:
- Polluted air
- Cigarette smoke
- Strong household cleaning products
Additionally, it’s common to get exposed via known toxins like BPA (found in plastics) or pesticides and chemical fertilizers (found in non-organic foods). Even prolonged exposure to sunlight can create toxins in the body. There are also things our body does every day that produce substances that need to be excreted. When we eat protein, amino acids are broken down and urea is excreted in our urine as a by product of that process. We exhale carbon dioxide, a waste product.
Our bodies naturally excrete these unwanted substances and byproducts. Body waste is a normal part of many of our body’s systems and includes feces, sweat, urine, and exhalations.
Fortunately, the body has many systems in place to filter out toxins and unwanted substances.
How does the body detoxify?
You might picture detox as a cleanse that helps flush out anything that can cause harm within the body. However, detox is actually a much more intricate process. In fact, most of the major organs in the body are involved in detoxification to some degree.
- The liver is the main organ responsible for detox. Liver detox can be broken down into two phases. During the first phase, the liver converts toxins into less harmful substances. In the second phase, the liver processes them into water-soluble substances that can easily be secreted through urine. The liver also creates bile to help with the digestion of fats and elimination of substances via normal digestion processes.
- The kidneys help filter out toxins from the blood. Particularly, the kidneys filter out naturally-occurring internal toxins like urea and electrolytes through urine.
- The colon, also known as the intestines, is responsible for eliminating body waste that is created as a result of the digestion of food. Specifically, it helps absorb nutrients and water from indigestible materials. Then, it’ll harden the material into stool for elimination via bowel movements.
- The lungs play a role in the detoxification of unwanted gasses into CO2 that we exhale out. It also helps filter out unwanted chemicals called xenobiotics.
- The skin helps draw out toxins such as heavy metals, and eliminates them via sweat. It can also help breakdown and deactivate xenobiotics.
- The lymphatic system, the network of vessels that ultimately drain into the blood, carries the white blood vessels that provide protection against toxins.
Detox Diets and Programs
Detox diets and programs are popular modalities that people use to cleanse their body. They often include juice cleanses, fasting, and detox herbal teas.
Unfortunately, the bulk of these programs are marketed as quick-fix strategies for weight loss, energy, and digestion. Some programs go as far to make promises of disease prevention.
Detox programs feed into the perception that in order to accomplish a health goal, your body needs to have a clean slate.
However, there is no evidence that detox programs work or are sustainable. Moreover, most detox modalities fail to identify exactly which toxins they are aiming to eliminate, making it even more difficult to track their effectiveness.
It’s also worth noting that some detox diets are extremely restrictive which can lead to negative health outcomes such as nutrient deficiencies and disordered eating behaviors.
How to detox your body
Remember, your body’s organs are constantly working to filter out toxins. So by supporting the optimal function of these organs, we can also support the body’s detox process. Namely, there are certain dietary and lifestyle strategies that can help give your detox organs a helping hand.
Dietary Ingredients For Natural Detox Support
Here is a list of the top dietary ingredients that can help detox your body:
- Chlorophyll is a pigment that is naturally occurring in foods like green veggies like celery and spinach. It supports detox by helping to induce the enzymes necessary for phase two detoxification in the liver.
- Dandelion leaf is an herb that supports detox by supporting optimal flow of bile (body waste) through the digestive tract. It also functions as a diuretic meaning it can increase urine production and elimination.
- Milk thistle is a flowering herb that provides an active ingredient called silymarin. Silymarin is regarded as hepatoprotective meaning it can help protect the liver and support its regeneration and detoxification.
- Spirulina is a nutrient-dense green algae that can help draw out environmental toxins and protect against damage related to heavy metals in the liver and kidneys.
- Fiber helps with bulking bowel movements and transit through the GI system, eliminating waste materials
Foods For Detox
Eating a variety of whole foods on a daily basis is one of the best ways to further support your body’s detox systems.
In particular, focus on foods that are high in fiber. Fiber will help keep your digestive system running smoothly by ensuring regular elimination. Foods like beans, oats, whole grains, and fruits and vegetables contain fiber.
Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables regularly is also an excellent way to get a daily dose of antioxidants. Antioxidants help protect against free radicals that are created as a result of environmental toxins.
Next, support healthy elimination by drinking enough water. Most people should aim to consume around half of their body weight in ounces of water daily.
We know that sweat is one of the primary ways that the body eliminates toxins and unwanted substances. As such, exercising is an effective way to get sweaty and thus support detox. Not to mention, the movement can also help support regular bowel movements.
Additionally, you can initiate sweating by hitting a sauna.
In summary, detoxification is a normal bodily function that helps eliminate toxins and other unwanted substances. The liver, kidneys, lungs, digestive system, and skin are all examples of organs that are constantly working to detox the body. With that said, the best way to detox your body is by supporting the proper function of these organs. Diet, hydration, and exercise are all effective ways to support your body’s detox systems.