Detoxing the body the healthy way as part of your self-care routine will support your natural detoxification systems. If the thought of cleansing your body of toxins brings to mind words like purges, the master cleanse, or juice fasts, breathe easy.
The good news is that the following multi-pronged approach uses sensible and sustainable techniques, foods, and supplements that will help you cleanse the body from inside and out to promote good health.
Detox cleanses: Are they helpful?
Experts have strong opinions about detoxing the body. There are varying opinions about when, where, and how to detox, or if you need to worry about it at all.
Some experts insist that natural body detoxification channels do their job quite well with no intentional help.
Others insist that the best body detox consists of herbs, supplements, fasting, juices, and/or cleansing foods for a specified period of time.
Your body could easily detox naturally without purposeful assistance if you lived in a world with clean food, air and water, but in light of the toxic soup in which we live, supporting your body's natural detox system makes sense, especially if you feel unwell.
If your energy fluctuates or if you feel sluggish, have headaches or trouble losing weight, you body may be getting overwhelmed with toxins. These include heavy metals, xenoestrogens, pesticides, herbicides, and/or mycotoxins, toxic chemical products produced by certain fungi that colonize on crops, and chemicals in household products and personal products.
The Basics of Body Detoxing
1. It is normal and necessary for your body to produce toxins as metabolic waste. It also takes in toxins through what you put in your mouth, what you put on your skin, and through the air you breathe.
2. Your body is adept at cleansing itself of metabolic and environmental toxins through properly functioning organs of elimination provided with necessary nutrient building blocks.
3. When your detoxification system gets overwhelmed with more toxins than it can safely eliminate, it stores them in the liver and fat cells.
4. There are three main ways of supporting whole body detoxing:
limit toxic exposure as much as possible,
provide your elimination pathways everything needed to get rid of metabolic and environmental toxins as quickly and safely as possible,
and ingest intestinal binders that absorb toxins and ferry them out of the body before they are recirculated in the system.
Detoxing the Body with Healthy Cleansing Foods
Nutritious food that cleanse the body play a major role in supporting the body's detox system. It is important to make good choices about what you eat and don't eat. Practice prevention by reducing the amount of toxins that get in your body.
Limit the following foods and beverages:
Aim to reduce animal foods to 14% or less of your diet (currently most Americans eat 30% or more), especially from factory farms. Think inflammation, growth hormones, antibiotics, stress hormones caused by distress and suffering - yuck. Purchase grass-fed and finished beef and pastured chicken products.
Wash fruits and vegetables in water and a splash of vinegar to remove surface pesticides, dirt and bacteria.
Limit processed foods to reduce exposure to herbicides, pesticides and other chemicals found in food and packaging. Never microwave foods in styrofoam containers. Fast and packaged foods absorb chemicals during processing and in their packages. Think rubber gloves, conveyor belts, plastic wrap...GMO is another issue.
Limit sodas, energy drinks and powdered drinks loaded with caffeine, chemicals and a variety of other unhealthy substances that have to be detoxified. Too much sugar promotes yeast overgrowth and is a favorite of parasites. Avoid artificial sweeteners. Stevia is a healthy natural sweetener.
When possible, choose organic and GMO-free foods. It is important to limit the dirty dozen, which usually includes grapes, apples, strawberries, kale, spinach, peaches, and celery. Choose antibiotic-free and nitrate-free meats.
Avoid water packaged in disposable plastic bottles that can leach chemicals, especially if they have been in hot temperatures or gotten squeezed.
Cook at low heat in stainless steel, cast iron, ceramic, or glass cookware to preserve nutrients. Store moist foods and sauces in glass containers. Plastic containers are okay for dry ingredients, such as uncooked pasta, rice, cereals, and flour.
Helpful foods for detoxing the body
The following foods supply your organs and cells the nutrients needed to promote the removal of waste and toxins.
Eat micro-nutrient rich, healthy cleansing foods and beverages as part of your daily diet to support your detoxification pathways.
Include plenty of food rich in chlorophyll. Nutrient-rich chlorella, spirulina and cilantro attract heavy metals. Get yours from clean sources or they will bring heavy metals from their previous environment into your body. Chlorella and spirulina tablets help you bypass the strong taste.
Dark leafy greens like kale, bok choy, spinach and collard greens are super choices. As a bonus, a big helping of fiber-rich cooked and raw greens is a supreme colon cleanser.
Cleansing foods are rich in fiber. Soluble fiber in gelatinous foods such as chia, aloe and seaweeds absorbs and traps toxins until they pass out of the body. Insoluble fiber bulks the stool and keeps it moving. If you supplement with fiber, use the coarse organic stuff. The disappearing kind does not work for detoxing the body.
A healthy diet containing plenty of glutathione-promoting foods such as garlic, onions and sulfur-rich cruciferous vegetables including broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower help the liver detoxify. The supplement MSM is also a sulfur-rich detoxifier known to improve cell permeability and reduce pain.
Eat raw or lightly steamed flavonoid-rich fruits and vegetables. Flavonoids bind to heavy metals and assist in removing them through the urine and help quench toxin induced inflammation. Cilantro, onions, blueberries and apples are a few choices.
Fermented foods such as low-sugar yogurt, kefir, and cultured vegetables and/or probiotic supplements support good bacteria colonies needed to properly digest and assimilate food and eliminate toxic waste. When these colonies are adequate and healthy, troublesome yeast and bacteria are kept in check.
Citrus fruits, organic apples, onions, parsley, nuts, tea, and dark berries contain quercetin. Leave the skin on if possible to get the most of this anti-inflammatory which binds heavy metals and dangerous toxins.
Drink plenty of water and healthy beverages including herbal teas, green tea, and green drinks as part of your healthy cleanse. Green tea is rich in EGCG. This anti-inflammatory antioxidant helps the body clear harmful toxins. Enjoy dilute green drinks and detox teas several times a week. Water dilutes toxins in the bloodstream and carries them out of the body. Drink lots of water when losing weight to dilute toxins being released from fat cells.
In the following video titled "Detoxing the body", I discuss simple and effective ways to support the body's natural detoxification system. This is from a live training given in my Midlifers on a Mission Facebook Community.
Intestinal Binders for Eliminating Toxins
Intestinal binders are important for detoxing the body of toxins that enter the small intestine in bile excreted by the liver. If the toxins don't bind with anything in the intestine, they can get reabsorbed and recirculated in the body.
When choosing binders, especially charcoal, algae, and clay, it is important to choose quality products from clean sources so that they are not already loaded with contaminants. It is often best to take binders away from food, supplements, and medication. Drink plenty of water to avoid constipation and aid absorption of toxins.
Using a variety of binders is helpful for detoxing the body because they absorb different toxins. Common binders include:
Cracked-cell Chlorella and Spirulina excel at absorbing heavy metals, pesticides, herbicides, and mycotoxins. These chlorophyll-rich nutritious algaes can be used long-term because they do not absorb essential minerals.
Charcoal is a broad-spectrum binder that is often used during a cleanse of a few weeks. Because it also absorbs vitamins, minerals, and medication, it is a good idea to use it first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. Then wait two hours before eating or taking medicine. Charcoal can also be taken right before bedtime if you haven't eaten nutrients or taken medicine for a few hours. Activated charcoal helps eliminate organic compounds, pesticides, fertilizer, mercury and bleach. It is found in most water filters.
Zeolite and bentonite clays are commonly-used binders for detoxing the body of mold and microbes but can also absorb other toxins. Bentonite clay has negatively charged ions that bind to the positively charged ions found in most toxins and heavy metals found in the mouth, skin and gut. It also helps neutralize bad bacteria and viruses. Drink plenty of water if you use clay internally. Bentonite and other clays can be added to your bathwater to draw impurities from the skin. Like charcoal, clay can bind to nutrients and medication. They are often used for a few weeks to months at a time. Powdered zeolite sourced from volcanic rock is gaining a following as a whole body cleansing aid to removing heavy metals, pesticides and radioactive isotopes.
Silica water and gel has a high affinity for aluminum and a low affinity for nutrients. It binds to gut toxins released by bacteria when they disintegrate. This makes silica helpful for food poisoning. Mineral water contains a lot of silica. Silica may help make collagen, aids hydration of skin and joints, and is essential in directing calcium into and out of the bones. It improves the integrity of the bone matrices, which decreases bone fragility
Modified Citrus Pectin made from the peel of citrus fruits is a fiber with a high affinity for lead and other heavy metals. It also helps modulate the immune system.
Humic and Fulvic Acids are made of decomposed algae and plant matter from ancient sea beds. They are helpful for detoxing the body from glyphosate, an herbicide sprayed on many crops. Humic acid is a mineral-rich compound that has been shown to prevent viruses and toxins from attaching to cells and repels invaders and toxins in the stomach. Fulvic acid contains many nutrients needed for healthy cells. Depending on its purity and concentration, fulvic acid binds with water and helps support the body’s natural detoxification process.
Plant Fiber in fruit, vegetables, and supplements acts as a weak binder for many different toxins.
Detoxifying Herbs and Supplements
Herbs and can be helpful for detoxing the body by improving nutritional absorption and removing metabolic waste. Alterative herbs were known in folk medicine as blood purifiers. They may act through the lymphatic or glandular systems, the mucus membranes or the skin. They help restore healthy by normalizing overall body chemistry. Alterative herbs are often used in combination for a broad effect. For example:
Burdock is a gentle acting herb that cleanses the kidneys, liver, and lymphatic system.
Stinging nettle clears the extracellular spaces of inflammation and drains dampness through urination. It is nutritive when taken as an infusion and can be drunk daily.
Turmeric and dandelion stimulate bile flow to cleanse the liver and gallbladder. Dandelion leaves work through the kidneys.
Echinacea stimulates the immune system which cleans up fluid between the cells. It works through the lymphatic system to clear up what was known as "bad blood".
Other cleansing herbs include red clover, cleavers, holy basil, chickweed and yellow dock.
A supplement worth mentioning for detoxing the body of glyphosate is the amino acid glycine. Glycine is abundant in collagen. You can also take it as a stand-alone supplement to flush glyphosate out of the body. Dr. Klinghardt recommends taking 1 tsp (4gms) of glycine powder twice a day for a few weeks to force it out of your system and then a quarter-tsp (1gm) twice a day.
Techniques and Exercise for Detoxing the Body
In addition to a healthy cleansing foods, the following routines for detoxing the body are helpful on a regular basis. Do as often as you like.
Lymphatic drainage moves toxins out of the cells. The lymph system doesn't have a pump like the circulatory system. Moving your body and massage facilitate lymphatic drainage. A massage therapist can do this for you or you can do a self-massage.
Deep breathing is energizing and cleansing. It cleans and moves lymphatic system, relieves stress, and oxygenates your body. To help detoxify your body with your breath, spend a few minutes taking deep, slow focused belly breaths at least once a day.
Dry skin brushing exfoliates dead skin, unclogs pores and stimulates lymphatic drainage. Use a long-handled natural bristle brush to make long strokes from your feet up toward your heart. Then from your arms. Go over each area several times. Always brush in the direction of your heart. Your skin, the body's largest organ of elimination, will thank you for this five minute treatment.
Exercise and Movement are important for detoxing the body. Movement promotes glutathione production and detoxification. It helps your body move oxygen and nutrient rich blood to your cells and stimulates lymph circulation. You may want to give rebounding a try. Rebounding on a trampoline or rebounder moves and stretches all your cells so that nutrients go in and wastes come out. Exercise also promotes lymphatic drainage.
Limit toxic exposure as much as possible. Less toxins get stored in your cells in the first place, and with a lighter load your detox system can work to release stored toxins. It takes conscious effort and detective work, as chemicals are everywhere. Some you can't do anything about. Do not get discouraged. Phase in changes. Some of these steps may require you to change daily habits. Others, like putting a filter on your shower head or buying safe detergents take very little effort or thought.
How to Limit Toxic Exposure
Air out your home often. Indoor pollution is often much worse than outdoor pollution.
Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter to remove ultra-fine particles from the carpet and floor. You don't want them spewed into the air.
Avoid plastic water bottles. Besides being an environmental nightmare, they leach hormone-disrupting chemicals into the water you drink. If possible, choose a filter that takes out disinfection by-products (DBP) which are harmful to your health.
Make eco-friendly non-toxic choices for home cleaning and personal care products. It takes less than 30 seconds to absorb chemicals through your skin and no time at all to breathe it into your lungs. Search the Environmental Working Group database to see how your shampoos, body lotions, sunscreen, cosmetics et al rank for toxicity and safety. Don't assume! A score of 1-2 is safe. 3-6 is moderate risk. 7-10 is high risk (definitely avoid using these products). Wash new synthetics and non-organic fabrics a few times before wearing or using.
Reduce mental, physical and emotional stress. Dis-stress causes the body to produce chemicals that have to be detoxified in the liver. It slows natural healthy body cleansing because detoxing the body isn't a priority under stress.
Once or twice a year you may want to give your natural detox system more support.
Periodic healthy cleanses with supplements and food or juices are generally safe and may aid detoxing the body, as may a short fast of three days or less, if you are in good health.
Do not do a cleanse or fast if you are pregnant or nursing.
Detox Cleansing Tips
Before cleansing, improve your diet for at least a week or two. Ditch the junk and eat lots of healthy food so your body can better cleanse itself, which it is quite adept at doing.
Choose a packaged cleansing product based on your needs. Packaged cleansing productsdesigned for a week or two can be helpful for detoxing the body and getting your eating habits back on track for the long run. They may include herbal supplements, fiber pills, shake powder, and/or vitamin and mineral supplements, along with a diet regimen. These short-term cleanses may be of some benefit. Colon cleanses, specific organ cleanses, and whole body cleanses are available. If your bowels are sluggish, get them moving at least once a day before advancing beyond colon cleansing. Otherwise your body will reabsorbed released poisons, and redeposit them.
Avoid aggressive cleansing. Releasing too many toxins at once overloads the body, causes unpleasant symptoms, and may cause your body to relocate toxins instead of releasing them. If you have a medical condition, avoid extreme cleanses requiring more than a day or two of fasting, strong ingredients, or heavy sweating without medical supervision. Consult your health care provider immediately if you suspect you have been exposed to excessive or dangerous chemicals. Detoxing the body in these cases may require medical supervision or special methods.
Cleanse gently. If your health is poor or your body does not have nutritional reserves due to a SAD diet, then you could benefit from a gentle detox. Doing the master cleanse or other aggressive cleanse can do more harm than good. It is better to improve your eating, ditch the junk food and generously nourish yourself with lots of greens and plant foods. This will give your body what it needs to cleanse itself over the long term, which it is quite adept at doing.
Be aware that a short intensive cleanse will not undo damage caused by a year of abuse. It may do more harm than good if you are not healthy, or if you do not have the needed nutritional reserves due to a SAD diet. It will also do little good if you go right back to bad habits. However, it could be a helpful aid when you want to reset your self-care habits.
Raise your body temperature. Heat causes fats and oils (and the toxins dissolved in them) to be excreted from your skin's oil glands. Oil soluble toxins include gasoline, pesticides and ingredients in personal care products. The trick is to detoxing the body is to heat it up for about an hour at around 110 degrees. Do not overheat. A 30 minute infrared sauna session aids cellular cleansing by boosting blood circulation and metabolism. Infrared heat deeply penetrates the fat layers beneath your skin where toxins are stored. Heavy metals, uric acid and fat soluble-toxins are released when you sweat. Infrared saunas beat out traditional saunas at detoxing the body with 15-20% of perspiration being toxins compared to 3%. Whether using a bath or sauna, be sure to shower off and drink lots of water to stay hydrated.
For heavy metal detoxing, cilantro and parsley are best used along with chlorella, a binding agent which will absorb released toxins. Together they can remove a significant amount of lead, cadmium and mercury from your body in six weeks when taken daily. A suggested dose of broken cell wall chlorella is four grams taken in the morning. A quarter-cup of cilantro and parsley with a half-teaspoon of chlorella (4-8 caps) blended together in a big glass of filtered water is a good guideline.
What about fasting? Fasting is a huge topic unto itself with many variations. You could consider fasting an aggressive cleanse. For a reasonably healthy person not taking medication, only consuming water or herbal tea for up to three days without medical supervision is generally considered safe. Intermittent fasts that limit eating windows to 10 hours a day or less can be practiced for much longer periods of time. Many people practice forms of intermittent fasting for health and weight loss. A main benefit is normalizing insulin levels. For comprehensive information about fasting, see Dr. Jason Fung's website.
Be aware that totally detoxing the body isn't possible. It also isn't possible or practical to try to eliminate all future toxic exposure. Don't obsess over it. Use a commonsense approach and keep in mind that a healthy cleanse depends on your body having what it needs, and not being overloaded with toxins and waste. The best body detox is woven into a regular healthy lifestyle. From a mind-body perspective, detoxing the body is just one part of holistic healthy cleansing. Detox body, mind and spirit to improve your health and quality of life.
For Educational Purposes Only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult with your health provider before using natural remedies and/or complementary therapies if you are pregnant, nursing, or you are being treated for a medical condition. Be aware that certain herbs and supplements interact with medications.