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If you are not in peak form and feeling sluggish at best, it might just be time to detox your body! But which detox program is the best one for you?
The truth is, you don’t need to go on detox diets, juice cleanses, or anything in between. The body’s natural detox system can take care of things. The key is to support your natural defenses by eating healthy foods and changing your lifestyle. Keep reading to learn more as we share six science-based tips on how to detox your body.
Detox cleanse or con? What is a body detox?
A body detox is more than just removing toxins from the body. It describes the process of removing drugs, mutagens such as free radicals, and any other harmful agents.
However, most detox diets are not supported by science. Some extreme methods might even be harmful. Furthermore, there is no concrete evidence that any detox diet can help you lose weight.
A quick-fix detox cleanse isn’t the magic pill. The core to good overall health is a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle. But where do toxins come from in the first place?
How toxins build up and their health risks
Toxins impact us in various ways. They can be industrial toxins in the air, pesticides in foods, pollutants in our environment, and substances we have skin contact with.
After a while, the body can become overwhelmed, and toxins may damage the nervous system, liver function, kidneys, lungs, and immune health. Rare exposure to high levels of toxins may even cause coma, cancer, and death.
Free radicals and why are they bad
When our body is working on daily functions or producing energy, by-products called free radicals are produced. Free radical damage can lead to inflammation or even chronic diseases.
Over an extended time period, these may cause dementia, heart disease, liver disease, asthma, and even cancer. Antioxidants protect our cells by neutralizing free radicals.
Thus, part of a detox plan, or so-called detox diet, should include plenty of foods rich in antioxidants. You should also avoid processed foods which promote free radical activity.
How a healthy body will naturally detoxify
It’s difficult to avoid contact with toxins and chemicals found in our environment, in our food, and in our water. Fortunately, bodies naturally detox in various ways:
Liver detoxification: The liver processes and eliminates harmful toxins from the body. It breaks down them into less harmful compounds, which are expelled via urine or stool.
Kidney filtration: The kidneys filter waste and excess fluids from the blood and flush them through the urine.
Lymphatic system: The lymphatic system is a network of vessels and organs that helps to remove waste products and toxins from the body. It also helps to support the immune system by attacking and removing bacteria and viruses.
Skin detoxification: The skin is the body’s largest organ. While it may not be as important as the liver and kidneys, it does play a role in eliminating toxins through sweat.
Six science-based tips on how to detox your body
For most people, it will be a relief to know that the best and easiest way to detox your body is to make simple lifestyle changes. In this way, you can naturally detoxify without the need for any ‘detox diet.’
Here are seven science-based detox tips:
1. Stay hydrated: The key to flushing out toxins
Water is, of course, essential to good health. It helps control body temperature, lubricates joints, supports cell function, and flushes waste from the body (1).
In terms of detoxification, water helps to transport waste and toxins out of the body via urination, bowel movements, and perspiration. Therefore, it’s crucial for your body to stay hydrated since water is the basis of all detox mechanisms.
Experts recommend a daily water intake of 3.7 L for men and 2.7 L for women. This may vary according to the climate, your level of activity, and age (2).
2. Sweat it out: Detox benefits of exercise and saunas
Sweat is how toxins are eliminated through the skin (3, 4). Exercise and saunas are excellent for stimulating natural detox through perspiration. Exercise has been shown to increase blood flow and lymphatic circulation while reducing inflammation (5).
That said, it’s important to stay hydrated during exercise and sauna sessions. Also, be cautious if you have any medical condition or if you are pregnant.
3. Fiber up: How dietary fiber helps eliminate toxins
Fiber, especially from whole foods and whole grains, is essential to promote health. One of the lesser-known benefits of dietary fiber is its ability to help drop toxins from the body.
Fiber acts like a sponge that binds to toxins, carrying them out of the body via the digestive system. This actually prevents our bodies from absorbing toxins (6).
As a prebiotic, fiber also provides food for healthy bacteria in the gut. These healthy bacteria help to break down food, speed up elimination, and improve the digestive system, promoting overall health (7).
Fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes are natural detox foods and good sources of fiber.
4. Get quality sleep: Why rest is a detox essential
The body naturally repairs during sleep, and this is particularly true for the detoxification process. Without enough rest, the body cannot detox naturally.
Research has shown that during sleep, the brain, liver, and other vital organs remove toxins that have accumulated throughout the day (8).
Additionally, sleep is also important to produce hormones. For example, melatonin has antioxidant properties which help the body neutralize free radical damage and prevent cell damage (9).
Experts recommend adults get at least seven to eight hours of sleep each night. However, to ensure good sleep quality, you need to:
- Maintain a regular sleep schedule.
- Create a relaxing bedtime routine.
- Avoid stimulating activities before bed.
- Creating a comfortable environment.
- Sleep in a cool, quiet, and dark place.
- Relax with deep breathing or meditation.
5. Eat antioxidant foods: The natural detox diet
Common antioxidants include vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, and glutathione (10). A healthy diet needs to include antioxidant-rich foods. Such detox foods are berries, green vegetables, nuts, and spices. Drinks such as coffee and green tea are also antioxidant-rich.
6. Limit exposure: How to avoid environmental toxins
Unfortunately, it is often difficult to completely avoid contact with harmful chemicals. The obvious strategy is to avoid exposure wherever possible.
Here are some tips for toxin-free living:
Choose organic produce: Pesticides and herbicides can accumulate in fruits and vegetables. Choosing organic options can help reduce exposure.
Use non-toxic household cleaners: Common household cleaners usually contain harmful chemicals. Switch to non-toxic alternatives, such as vinegar, baking soda, or chemical-free brands.
Avoid plastics: It’s not just BPA or bisphenol A (11), but most plastics we use are actually toxic to varying degrees (12). Look for products made from glass, stainless steel, or other suitable materials.
Be mindful of personal care products: Many personal care products contain toxins (13). Look for shampoos, soaps, and makeup that are all-natural or chemical-free.
You can help your body ‘detox’ by making basic lifestyle changes. Increase your water intake, and add more fiber and antioxidant-rich foods to your diet. Good sleeping habits are likewise important to cultivate. Lastly, use organic products and avoid plastics to limit chemical exposure.
Detox foods for your detox diet
Apart from the aforementioned basic lifestyle changes, there are some key foods that can boost your natural detox system. Here are four science-based detox foods:
1. Foods rich in sulfur: How sulfur eliminates toxins
The mineral sulfur is essential for various functions, including body detox.
Sulfur helps our liver to produce glutathione, a powerful antioxidant for neutralizing free radicals. Sulfur-rich foods also stimulate the body to produce various enzymes, which help reduce the toxicity of certain molecules. (14).
Examples of sulfur-rich foods are broccoli, garlic, onion, eggs, and dairy products.
2. The cilantro solution: How to detox heavy metals
Humans have been using cilantro (Coriandrum sativum) in traditional medicine for centuries. In recent years, it has gained attention for its potential ability to leach heavy metals such as lead, mercury, and cadmium.
Cilantro is known for its chelation properties. Research has shown that detox supplements or herbal supplements made from cilantro extract can bind to heavy metals, such as lead, and help remove them from the body (15).
Cilantro also has diuretic properties that increase urine output. This can be beneficial for heavy metal detox because it can help flush toxins from the body more quickly.
3. Chlorophyll cleanses: The benefits of chlorella for detoxing
Chlorella is a type of algae that is rich in chlorophyll and is often referred to as a superfood because of its high nutritional content. It is high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Chlorella can bind to toxins in the body and help remove them through the digestive tract. Chlorella extract has been shown to work through several mechanisms, including heavy metal chelation and increased antioxidant formation (16).
This green superfood is available in a variety of forms or dietary supplements, including tablets, capsules, and powders. You enjoy its health benefits by adding it to smoothies, juices, or other foods.
4. The master antioxidant: How to bolster glutathione for detox
The strongest antioxidant is glutathione, a liver compound that drives away toxins (17). We can boost our glutathione by eating sulfur-rich foods such as eggs, broccoli, and garlic.
Sulfur-rich nutritious foods such as eggs, broccoli, and garlic can stimulate your body to produce glutathione. This ‘master’ antioxidant neutralizes toxins and pushes them out of the body. Additionally, chlorella and cilantro both bind to toxins, as does dietary fiber, flushing them out of your body.
Health benefits of detox and how it can help lose weight
There are plenty of weight loss schemes out there. Most have little more than anecdotal evidence to back them up. While natural detoxification may help you lose weight, here are some other benefits:
Improve digestion: Toxin build-up can cause digestive stress. Natural detox boosters can free up energy for better nutrient absorption. Better nutrient absorption means less food cravings.
Boost immunity: Improved detoxification can help improve the efficiency of the lymphatic system. This can lead to a reduced risk of illness and disease (18).
Clear skin: Detoxing can also help improve the appearance of the skin. Toxins can cause skin issues such as acne and dullness. Supporting a natural body detox can lead to clearer and brighter skin.
Increase energy: Eliminating more toxins from the body can increase energy levels since toxins and their often harmful effects drain energy resources and slow down cellular metabolism.
Possible risks of detox diets
Although some so-called detox diets may be safe and effective, others are more questionable. Here are some possible risks and side effects of strenuous detox diets:
- Dehydration: Many detox diets drastically reduce food intake, which can lead to dehydration. This can cause headaches, dizziness, and fatigue.
- Nutritional deficiencies: Detox diets that cut out whole food groups or restrict calorie intake over a long period may result in poor nutrition.
- Disruption of gut health: Detox methods can disrupt the natural balance of gut bacteria. This leads to digestive problems and an increased risk of infection.
- Electrolyte imbalances: Fasting or calorie restriction can affect electrolyte balance. This may cause muscle weakness, cramping, or even upset heart rhythm.
- Pre-existing medical conditions: Certain detox practices can be risky for people with certain medical conditions. It is better to consult with a healthcare provider before attempting a detox diet.
Before starting any detox programs, be aware of the potential risks involved. People with medical conditions should consult with a healthcare professional before starting a detox diet.
Don’t rush into a so-called detox diet before evaluating the risks. Furthermore, it is better to simply make healthy lifestyle changes to support natural detox mechanisms.
The best way to detox your body is to make sure you’re drinking enough water, exercise regularly, and eat a variety of organic fruits and vegetables. Occasional fasting and adding more fiber and antioxidant-rich foods to your diet are also recommended.
At the end of the day, it’s always important to sleep well, but you should also cultivate beneficial long-term sleeping habits.
These are all you need to support the body’s natural detox system.
If we missed something, or if you want to share a detox tip, feel free to comment below.