Detox. It’s the sexy word of the moment. You can’t pick up a fitness magazine or walk into a supplement shop without being presented with dozens of ways to detoxify your body. From juice cleanses to 7-day resets, ridding our bodies of chemicals is all the rage. But what does it really mean to detox? And, how do we know if it’s even necessary?
Getting rid of what’s not serving you: why detoxification matters
Although it has gained popularity over the last few decades, detoxification is nothing new. Instead, it’s an ancient process that dates back thousands of years. From Egyptian enemas to Native American sweat baths, many of our ancestors subscribed to the idea that toxins are a root cause of disease.
Simply put, detoxification refers to the process of removing unwanted toxins from the body. Detox is not something our body switches on or off like a light. Rather, our bodies are constantly working to remove the many chemicals and pathogens that reside within.
What are the effects of toxins in my body?
From the moment of conception until the day we die, our bodies are inundated with unhealthy toxins. Chemicals fill the water we drink, the food we eat, and the air we breathe. They are in our makeup, cleaning products, cookware, and even bedding. Unfortunately, toxins are unavoidable.
When things are working normally, our body’s natural detoxification system can get rid of toxins. This highly efficient process is managed by various organs, including the liver, kidneys, digestive system, lungs, and skin.
However, when our bodies get overloaded with toxins, the work becomes too great for the liver and supporting organs. Much like a sewer system, the toxins get backed up, clogging up the body and impacting all bodily functions. The buildup of chemicals in the body is called toxic load or toxic burden.
When the toxic burden becomes too great, symptoms begin to appear. Instead of one big event, illness is most often the result of many years of accumulated stress and toxic exposures.
Following a detox plan or a cleansing diet doesn’t magically cure disease. Instead, it optimizes your body’s ability to perform the natural functions required to achieve and maintain health. Essentially, detoxification lightens the body’s workload.
How do I know if my body is toxic?
Any human living on this earth likely harbors some toxins. However, each of us is biochemically and genetically unique. So while some can efficiently rid their bodies of toxins and waste, others have more difficulty.
The only truly accurate way to evaluate your toxic load is to test for circulating chemicals in the body. The triple toxin test checks for mold, heavy metals, and other environmental toxins. By knowing exactly which contaminants are in your body, you can best address removing them.
Other signs that your body is under toxic overload include:
- Unexplained exhaustion or chronic fatigue
- Brain fog
- Bad breath or body odor
- Nasal congestion
- Sugar cravings
- Rashes/skin disorders
- Digestive problems
- Puffy eyes or bags under the eyes
- Hormonal imbalances
- Difficulty losing weight
- Anxiety and depression
- Hair loss
- Aches and pains
9 effective ways to detox your body
Effective detoxification regimens will support gut health, reduce the burden on the liver, and allow the release of toxins from the body. Follow these nine tips to cleanse your body:
Drink plenty of high-quality water
Water is the most natural detoxifying agent available to humans. It flushes the liver and kidneys, keeps the intestines smooth and flexible, and helps move food and toxins through the body. Without enough water, the body has difficulty moving waste from cells and the colon out of the body. Water also transports waste products through breathing, sweating, and urination.
While hydration may be the most critical tool for detoxification, it is only effective if you drink high-quality water. After all, what good is it to reach your daily water goals if you pour additional chemicals into your body? Drinking pure, high-quality water free from environmental and chemical toxins is the key to healthy detoxification.
Along with drinking high-quality water, you can also eat your water! Many vegetables and fruits are high in water content with the added bonus of nutrition. In fact, cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes, and watermelon are all over 90 percent water. Aim for at least 1 gallon of filtered water each day.
Get restful, restorative sleep
While we often think of things we have to “do” to get healthy, sometimes what we don’t do is just as important. The impact of sleep for detoxification is severely underrated.
Many of the vital detoxification processes happen while our body is sleeping. In fact, studies have found that sleep helps to detoxify the brain through the flow of cerebrospinal fluid. Therefore, aim for eight to nine quality hours of sleep each evening for optimal detoxification effects.
Movement is a great way to naturally massage the lymphatic system, which is the body’s built-in sanitation center. The lymphatic system assists in detox by filtering out waste products from cells, tissues, and organs. Unlike the heart, which has a pump, the lymphatic system requires movement or massage to keep the fluids flowing. Exercise boosts lymph flow, which is essential for transporting toxins out of the body.
Exercise also increases blood circulation, bringing more oxygen to the cells while removing waste. Additionally, the lungs help detoxify the body with every breath by removing carbon dioxide from the body. Therefore, the more you exercise, the more waste is removed.
Eat an organic, fiber-filled diet
Many toxins enter our bodies through the food that we eat. Non-organic food is loaded with pesticides and other chemicals that wreak havoc on our health and immune system. To help the detoxification process, consume only organic, non-genetically modified food.
Fiber-rich foods such as chia seeds, psyllium husk, and organic vegetables are great detoxifying foods. In addition, fiber helps to bind and remove toxins from the body.
Finally, increase consumption of high-antioxidant foods to combat the damage caused by toxins. Asparagus, cilantro, and beets are all excellent foods that help the detoxification process. Additionally, sulfur-rich foods like broccoli, eggs, and garlic help enhance the function of antioxidants in the body.
Sweat it out
Sweating is an excellent way to push toxins out of the body and remove harmful waste. Sweating is a natural detoxification mechanism that helps eliminate phthalates, BPA, and heavy metals.
Infrared saunas are an excellent option for therapeutic detoxification. The more you safely sweat by heating your core, the more toxins you expel. If you don’t have access to a sauna, spending time in the warm sunshine is equally effective with added benefits.
Similar to how restorative sleep helps with detoxification, refraining from eating also has beneficial effects. Studies have found that fasting leads to increased upregulation of several key detox enzymes. Fasting also helps limit unpleasant side effects that sometimes come with detoxifying. When a body is fasting, it does not have its usual access to glucose. As a result, it burns fat for fuel. This process, also called ketosis, releases toxins stored in fat cells.
There are various ways to fast, and the best approach depends on your toxin level. Some individuals like intermittent fasting, while others do better with extended fasts.
Meditate and breathe
While chemical toxins often come to mind when discussing detoxification, individuals also hold onto emotional toxins. The energy surrounding negative feelings and experiences can stay stuck in the body and cause physical symptoms of illness. Purging toxic emotions is vitally important for health. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, anger and resentment are associated with the liver. Grief, with the lungs.
What’s more, chronic stress impedes the body’s natural ability to detoxify. Stress inhibits the proper circulation of key nutrients and oxygen through the body. Meditation helps to boost circulation, allowing for better transport and excretion of toxins. It also keeps the body in a relaxed parasympathetic state, supporting optimal detoxification.
Establish a mindfulness routine such as meditation, breathing, yoga, or prayer. Setting aside time each day to be intentional helps expedite the detoxification process.
Try dry brushing
Dry brushing is an effective way to detoxify from the outside-in. Brushing the skin with a dry, stiff-bristled brush exfoliates dry skin, unclogs pores, and allows for toxins to be released through sweat. In addition, dry brushing increases blood circulation and promotes lymph flow and drainage.
Try using a dry brush a few times a week, preferably before bathing. Immediately after dry brushing, soak in a warm bathtub or take a shower, rinsing off the dead skin and toxins.
Use evidence-based supplements
For a comprehensive approach to detoxification, the team at NHD recommends CellCore. There are multiple levels to detoxification using CellCore, and many individuals prefer to work with one of our health coaches through the process.
If you eat right, exercise, sleep well, spend time in the sun, have loving relationships, and yet still feel exhausted, your body may be loaded with toxins. No matter how well you take care of yourself, you will still feel sluggish if chemicals live in your organs, tissues, and cells.
Depending on your toxicity load, getting clean can be a process. Remember, it took years to collect the chemicals, and it may take time to release them. Your body is your friend and wants to partner with you on this detoxification journey to help you achieve your 100 Year Heart. So what are you waiting for? Start detoxing today!
Eat Well · Live Well · Think Well
Medical Review 2022: Dr. Lauren Lattanza NMD