What is a detox? A detox is considered a period of time in which a person eliminates toxins from the body. Toxins are thought to accumulate in the body over time and are thought to be damaging to the nervous system. Where do toxins come from? Toxins can come from processed foods, air pollution, prescription drugs, illicit drugs, caffeine, and alcohol. Some people believe that the best way to purify (or “cleanse”) the body is by taking time to detox.
A detox typically involves making various dietary changes such as increasing intake of fruits and vegetables, while eliminating consumption of processed foods, and in some cases, meats. Additionally people may engage in various types of exercise as a means to sweat out toxins and/or practicing meditation to calm the mind. Most detox periods last 1 to 2 weeks and follow a specific protocol or set of rules.
How To Detox Your Body Naturally: 12 Suggestions
It is completely up to you to decide how you’d like to detox your body. Some people believe there is a “correct” way to detox and an incorrect way. The goal is to essentially clear your body of all toxins and feel pure. Some people conduct a detox to help clear drugs from their system, while others may do it for general health benefits. Below are some tips and methods that can help you detoxify your system.
1. Dietary Changes
If you are serious about going through with a detox, you first will likely want to make some sort of dietary changes. Most people increase their intake of fruits and vegetables to a significant extent. Some people like to blend fruits and veggies together in a smoothie for every meal while detoxing, while others prefer just eating them without blending.
- Increase fruits & vegetables: It is common for people to increase their intake of fresh fruits and vegetables during a detox. Fruits and veggies are thought to be among the healthiest foods required for optimal functioning.
- Consider raw foods: Some people recommend eating only raw foods during a detox. In other words, the vegetables will not be cooked or steamed. The idea behind eating raw is that no nutrients get “cooked out” of the food.
- Avoid processed foods, sugars, artificial sweeteners: Most people like to cut out all forms of processed foods, sugars, and artificial flavorings. If you are eating only fresh fruits and veggies, this shouldn’t be much of a problem. However, if you are incorporating other foods in your diet, you will want to watch what you eat during your detox.
- Avoid simple carbohydrates: Some people like to cut out carbohydrates from the diet while going through detox, while others will simply cut out simple carbs. Simple carbs include sugary foods (e.g. a donut). Complex carbohydrates are preferred if you plan on maintaining carbs in your diet.
- Cut out meats / fish / eggs / dairy: Some people recommend adhering to vegan standards of cutting out meats, fish, eggs, dairy or any animal-based foods from the diet. This is thought to be healthier for the body. People with strict detoxification standards would never even consider animal-based foods during a detox.
2. Macronutrients: Vitamins / Supplements
It is up to you to determine whether you’d like to take macronutrients in the form of supplements, vitamins, and/or probiotics during your cleanse. Macronutrients can be very beneficial for maintaining overall health and can help cleanse the body. Most people aim to get supplements that allow them to stay healthy while they shift away from eating meat-based diets.
Supplements may not be necessary if you are only conducting a short-term detox. However, if you plan on detoxifying your body for several weeks, you may want to consider vitamins and supplements that you may not be getting from your fruits and veggies. Examples of these supplements can include things like: Vitamin B-12, Iron, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Zinc, Vitamin D, and Calcium.
3. Drink More Water
A great way to flush out toxins from your body is to increase the amount of water that you drink. This will help keep your body hydrated and could help build up the accumulation of toxins. Some experts have suggested that including some lemon juice in your water can help with digestive processes while detoxifying. Increasing your water consumption is recommended, but make sure you don’t go overboard.
If you find yourself running to the bathroom every minute, you are probably drinking a little too much water and need to scale back. Drinking plenty of water is a crucial aspect of detoxification.
4. Cardiovascular Exercise (mild)
It is well known that there are many physical and psychological benefits of exercise. Not only does it improve mood, but it makes us stronger and improves our overall health. While detoxifying, you may want to incorporate some light cardiovascular exercise in your regimen. Working out in moderation will help you sweat out some toxins that may have accumulated throughout your body.
There is evidence suggesting that exercise is able to improve digestive functions and metabolism of food. Those who exercise more often typically have less toxins circulating throughout their body. For some individuals, cardiovascular exercise may be too extreme during a detox. It is important to know your body and what you are capable of based on your diet. If you work out really hard during your detox, you run the risk of burning considerably more calories than you’ve consumed.
6. Sauna Therapy
If you have access to a sauna, it is recommended to engage in what is now being referred to as “sauna therapy.” We all know how relaxing we feel after a short stint in a sauna, but what we may not be aware of other health benefits. A sauna usually helps us sweat excessively, which is good because sweating is another form of detoxification. The more you sweat, the more toxins will likely be removed from your body.
Saunas can help improve circulation, promote skin health, and in some cases can help with chronic pain. If you are serious about detoxifying your body, you may want to consider taking time to go in the sauna each day. Those who do not have a sauna at their house may want to visit a local gym or health spa to use their sauna.
7. Eat Organic Foods
There isn’t a clear verdict as to whether eating organic food is actually healthier than standard food. Some research suggests that normal and organic foods are relatively similar in nutritional properties and there may not be as big of a difference as people think. However, there are still some major benefits associated with eating organic.
When you eat organic, you know you won’t have to worry about exposure to pesticides and other additives. Organic farmers do not spray their foods with potentially harmful pesticides. Not only could pesticides harm the non-organic food that you consume, but you could actually end up ingesting the pesticide that was used – this would not be good during a detox.
It should also be noted that most organic regulations do not allow for processed ingredients and additives. Therefore eating organic should help you avoid artificial sweeteners, colorings, flavorings, and other preservatives that could act as toxins within the body.
8. Drink Tea
Instead of drinking coffee, it is recommended to try tea instead. Tea is known to have essential antioxidants and tends to yield a less stimulating effect compared to coffee. Additionally many consider tea to have healing properties, both psychologically and physically. Certain types of tea have been associated with reduction in cancer risk and it tends to have significantly more antioxidants compared to coffee.
Tea is also documented has having beneficial effects on the immune system. Drinking coffee is not recommended because the excessive stimulation from caffeine can lead to a stress response. The goal during a detox is to reduce stress as much as possible to help the body heal itself.
9. Intermittent Fasting
There are many different types of fasting, but one that has become increasingly popular for health benefits is that of intermittent-fasting. Intermittent fasting involves fasting (not eating) for a specific period of time, followed by a period in which a person is allowed to eat. If you don’t want to partake in intermittent fasting, some people like to take a one or two day “fast” by not eating and only drinking juices.
Usually the act of “fasting” without consumption of any nutrients or food is not recommended for more than a day. In healthy individuals traditional fasting can be alright for a short duration, but if maintained for an extended period, it actually becomes detrimental to physical and mental health. For this reason, you could consider intermittent fasting or juicing as an alternative.
Exfoliation involves washing or scrubbing the skin with the intent of removing dead skin cells and cleansing skin pores. If your body has accumulated toxins, a common place for them to exit the body is through the skin cells. When you sweat, your body is “sweating” out some toxic material. However to ensure that your skin stays clean and revitalized, some people like the idea of exfoliating during a detox.
This is a common technique used to help the skin stay healthy and you looking your best. This can help with discoloration, tan lines, wrinkles, and unhealthy skin. A mild exfoliating cleanser is best used in tandem with a soft washcloth or your hands to keep your skin looking as fresh as possible.
To get the most out of your detox, it is recommended to engage in activities that promote physical and psychological relaxation. This is an important component to include in a detox regimen because most people accumulate toxins with stress. Tension trapped in the body and high levels of anxiety can actually cause hormonal changes (i.e. increased cortisol).
- Acupuncture: Some recommend trying acupuncture as a way to increase physical relaxation and ward off stress. In some studies, acupuncture was found to block increases in stress hormones and stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system.
- Massages: Nearly everyone likes getting a good massage because it feels relaxing and helps ease tension throughout the body. During your detox you may want to consider getting a massage to further reduce stress.
- Meditation: There are documented psychological benefits associated with meditation. The practice is associated with lower levels of stress and a more positive outlook.
- Yoga: There are clear benefits associated with yoga for physical and mental health. Not only can it help you stay physically fit during a detox without burning too many calories, but it will help you feel relaxed.
The goal is to use various relaxing activities to help reduce cortisol production and increase activity in the healing, parasympathetic nervous system. Stress is known to speed up aging and cause health problems. By reducing total stress with one of the activities listed above, you should feel healthier and rejuvenated.
Getting a good night’s sleep can be extremely rewarding in that it restores our energy levels and heals our body. One reason people end up with mood problems is because they don’t make it a priority to get a good night’s sleep. During a detox period, your goal should be to get at least 8 hours of sleep per night. Keep in mind that while you are detoxifying, you may want to get even more sleep than just 8 hours.
In addition to getting more sleep, you should also attempt to increase your quality of sleep. This can be done with various natural sleep aids like melatonin. It is recommended to avoid electronics such as TV’s, cell phones, computers, etc. before bed because they increase stimulation and make it more difficult to get quality sleep. Getting proper sleep is an extremely important part of healing during a detox.
Things to avoid during a detox:
It is important to be aware of substances that you should avoid during a detox. These include thins like drugs, alcohol, stimulants, processed foods, pollution, etc. Although you may not be able to avoid everything on the list below, the more items you avoid, the better you are likely to feel.
- Artificial sweeteners
- Drugs (Prescription and illicit)
- Environmental toxins
- Processed foods
- Simple carbohydrates
- Tobacco products
How often should you detox your body?
Most people don’t need to constantly detox their body in order to stay healthy. It usually depends how many toxins you are exposed to on a daily basis. If your diet consists of processed foods, high sugars, soda, and simple carbohydrates, you may want to detox more frequently. Additionally if you are exposed to environmental toxins, drink alcohol, or smoke, detoxifying more often is recommended.
People who are already healthy may not even need a detox in order to feel good. A general rule of thumb is to try a detox for awhile and decide whether it really makes you feel better or cleansed. If detoxifying your body doesn’t make you feel any better or healthier, you may never want to do it again. On the other hand, if you feel considerably better, you may want to adapt several detox strategies and incorporate them in your life permanently.
Those who love to detox the body may do it once every month for about a week. Others who are still serious about eliminating toxins from the body may do it once every two or three months. The causal detox’er may only feel as if it’s necessary to do once or twice per year. Detoxifying your body is supposed to make you feel better and improve your overall health. Feel free to share how you feel after a detox, your strategies, and/or how often you detox in the comments section below.