Whether you over-indulge at happy hour with friends, generally eat too much sugar or processed foods, or have concerns about chemical exposures from plastics or environmental pollutants, you may be wondering how to detox your body.
Or you may be looking for some sort of detox or cleanse that can either jumpstart your weight loss or help counteract the burden of chemicals you put in or on your body.
These days, detox cleanse diets are extremely popular. From commercial juice diets, enemas, expensive supplements, and diet pills to home remedies like drinking lemon water with cayenne, we are inundated with programs and “solutions” that claim to help rid your body of toxins, cleanse your blood and liver, and help you drop a significant amount of weight quickly.
But can you actually cleanse or detox the body? Do you need to detoxify the body? In this article, we will discuss detoxification of the body and how to detoxify your body.
We will cover:
- What Is a Cleanse or Detox?
- Should You Detox the Body?
- Drawbacks of Detoxes and Cleanses
- How To Detox Your Body: 15 Effective Ways
Let’s get started!
What Is a Cleanse or Detox?
A cleanse is typically a specific dietary protocol that aims to improve digestion and clean your system out, whereas a detox is usually said to systematically remove toxins that have built up in your blood, liver, or kidneys so that you feel more revitalized and healthy.
These toxins can come in the form of chemicals or pollutants that we breathe in, eat or drink, or absorb through the skin.
Should You Detox the Body?
There are various signs and symptoms that can motivate you to look into how to detoxify your body, such as bloating, headaches, bowel irregularities, acne, skin rashes, fatigue, digestive issues, and unexplained weight changes.
Before trying any detox strategy, it’s important to understand that most of the claims made by commercial detox cleanse diets—mainly that they can stimulate your liver and kidneys to eliminate excess toxins—are not true.
It is true that fielding your body with healthy nutrients and avoiding all inflammatory foods like sugar, alcohol, and processed ingredients will reduce inflammation, support digestion, and aid circulation.
However, the liver and kidneys already detoxify nearly all harmful compounds in circulation and remove them via urine, feces, sweat, and even expired air.
For this reason, there is no physiological need to detoxify your body.
Moreover, the actual “detoxing” or “toxin-eliminating” claims of commercial detox diets are not true.
There is evidence to suggest that heavy metals like lead, mercury, arsenic, and cadmium can accumulate in different tissues of the body over time; however, there is a lack of evidence demonstrating that detox diets can effectively get rid of these harmful compounds.
Drawbacks of Detoxes and Cleanses
When embarking on a cleanse diet or engaging in some other way to detox the body, it’s important to remember that you aren’t actually going to be eliminating any toxins from your body to an appreciable degree.
Furthermore, if you are doing a diet detox or cleanse, bear in mind that severe caloric restriction can cause low energy, headaches, blood sugar irregularities, arrhythmias, and bad breath and is not advisable for those with certain health conditions, such as diabetes, eating disorders, and pregnancy/lactation.
Colon cleanses that involve taking laxatives and diuretics often cause severe diarrhea and excessive urination and can lead to dehydration, nausea, and vomiting. Finally, if you use commercial diet pills and herbal supplements as part of your detox cleanse, be aware that many of these products are not regulated by the FDA.
Accordingly, detox supplements may be dangerous in high doses, and the labels can be inaccurate.
Just because something is “herbal” does not mean it is safe; for example, ephedra can cause convulsions and heart irregularities.
How To Detox Your Body: 15 Effective Ways
There are a variety of different methods and meanings of detoxifying the body, from the physical to mental or emotional.
Here are some strategies on how to detox your body that may help you feel rejuvenated and in better physical and mental health:
#1: Drink More Water
Drinking more water is one of the best ways to support your health.
Dehydration can slow digestion, cause acne, increase the risk of headaches, and lead to fatigue, among other symptoms.
During a water detox, try to drink a gallon of water per day, ensuring that you are also consuming electrolytes to prevent hyponatremia.
#2: Take a Nap
Whether you decide to start adding an afternoon siesta to your day or altering your sleep schedule so that you are getting to bed earlier or sleeping later, getting more sleep is one of the best ways to support the restorative and reparative processes in your body.
#3: Go Organic
Pesticides in fruits, vegetables, and grains are a huge source of chemical exposure, and they can affect the gut microbiome.
Organic produce is grown without the use of synthetic pesticides, so eating organic fruits and vegetables offers all the nutritional benefits of the produce but eliminates pesticide exposure.
Even after washing and peeling conventional produce, research has shown that the urine from people who consume conventional produce still contains pesticides.
If you can’t afford to eat all organic, follow the Environmental Working Group’s guidelines for the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15.”
#4: Stop Drinking Alcohol
Although detoxing the body isn’t really necessary because there are organs and systems in place to handle all your detoxification needs, there’s no denying that alcohol places a heavy burden on the liver.
The body perceives alcohol as a toxin because the toxins acetate and acetaldehyde are produced as the body starts to metabolize alcohol.
Therefore, alcohol acts as a stressor on the body, and eliminating it from your diet will give your liver a break.
#5: Reduce Sodium
Dietary salt causes the body to retain water, so it can increase bloating, blood pressure, and puffiness.
Try to reduce your sodium intake to no more than 1,500 mg per day, and less if possible.
With that said, if you have low blood pressure or are an endurance athlete, consult your physician before cutting back on salt.
#6: Move Your Body
Exercise is the best way to increase circulation, which promotes oxygenation of your tissues.
You don’t have to do intense workouts to reap the benefits.
Even walking and low-intensity exercise like yoga and tai chi have numerous mental and physical health benefits.
#7: Try An Elimination Diet
If you want to do a “diet detox,” meaning a reset of sorts in terms of what you are eating as a way to eliminate cravings, reduce inflammation, and drop a few pounds, a good approach is to try the Whole30 diet or an elimination diet.
These can be seen as detox diets because they remove common inflammatory foods like sugar, all processed foods, alcohol, artificial sweeteners, dairy, gluten, grains, legumes, and soy.
You might also want to remove eggs, meat, and poultry, depending on how much digestive distress and swelling you feel.
See how your body feels, and then you can slowly reintroduce foods and monitor your response.
Remove any foods that trigger symptoms.
#8: Eat Fruits and Veggies
Although going on a liquid-only diet cleanse isn’t advisable in most cases, save for 48 hours or so max and under the guidance of a healthcare provider, juicing is a great way to support your liver and kidneys.
Fresh vegetables and fruits, whether eaten whole or juiced, provide all sorts of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.
Antioxidants can combat free radicals, so foods like leafy green vegetables and dark berries will help combat oxidative damage.
You’ll actually get more fiber if you eat them in whole form.
#9: Go On a Digital Detox
If you’re needing more of a mental detox, a digital detox can be a super restorative approach to combat feelings of stress.
A digital detox is a period of time away from all screens and media, such as your phone, computer, tablet, and TV.
Because we spend so much time immersed in screens and technology and live in a culture where everyone expects people to be reachable and responsive at nearly any hour, a digital detox can give your eyes, brain, and energy a welcomed break to relax and recuperate.
#10: Start Tongue Scraping
Brushing and flossing at least twice a day is an important component of dental hygiene, but it’s often not enough.
The tongue is covered in tiny hairs called cilia that microscopic food debris, plaque, dead cells, and bacteria can cling to, forming an unhealthy coating on the surface of your tongue.
If not regularly removed, this sticky film can sit around and build up for days, causing bad breath and disrupting the natural homeostasis in your oral microbiome.
Tongue scraping is the hygienic practice of using a specific tool with a hard edge—or even sometimes a spoon, dental floss, or a toothbrush head—to remove the film on the surface of your tongue and clean the cilia underneath.
#11: Consider a Plant-Based Diet
A plant-based diet has numerous benefits over the typical Western diet, which is characterized by a high intake of meat, animal products, fat, sugar, salt, and processed ingredients.
Not only is the Western diet calorie dense, but it’s also inflammatory and disruptive to the gut microbiome.
When the microbiota digest animal protein and fat, they have to carry out amino acid fermentation, which can produce harmful byproducts that are toxic to the healthy microbiota, and lead to the production of endotoxins and dysbiosis.
The result is a thinning of the gut lining, which makes it more permeable to pathogens and induces chronic, low-grade inflammation.
#12: Cut Out All Sugar
All forms of sugar, including table sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, and any ingredient that ends in -ose on an ingredient label, can be removed from your diet, at least during your detox period.
It’s equally important to remove all artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols, as these are arguably even worse for you.
#13: Try Intermittent Fasting
If you’re finding that your diet isn’t leaving you feeling as energized as you’d like to be, you might consider intermittent fasting.
Intermittent fasting is an umbrella term used to refer to a couple of different patterns or structures of timed eating intervals interspersed with timed fasting intervals.
Some people practice intermittent fasting by only eating during a certain restricted window of time each day, while other people fast on alternate days of the week or any number of other iterations.
Studies show that intermittent fasting can be helpful in reducing the frequency of insulin secretion, which can improve your metabolic profile and leave you feeling more energized.
#14: Quit Smoking
Smoking is toxic to the body. If you’re addicted to smoking, work with your doctor to try and quit as soon as possible.
#15: Consider Bodywork
A lymphatic massage or acupuncture are considered healing modalities that can clear blocked energy channels, restore your vitality, and help detoxify your body.
Remember, your liver, kidneys, skin, and digestive system are always detoxing your body, so you don’t have to, but it certainly won’t hurt to clean up your diet and lifestyle to try and support your organs in this pursuit.
Moreover, detoxification of the body through cleaning up your diet can be an effective way to transition to a nutritious diet devoid of processed foods and excessive sugar, salt, and fat.
Now that you know how to detox your body, perhaps you are interested in trying out Intermittent Fasting; if so, you can check out our various guides: