How To Naturally Detox Your Body
Chronic fatigue, headaches, and insomnia are just some of the many health issues that accumulated toxins can cause.
So it’s only natural we want to get rid of these toxins — to detox.
But when talking about detox, many think of starving yourself with carrot juice, lemon water cleanse or using intense laxatives, diuretics or other drastic means.
The truth is - going to such extremes might even have a negative impact on our health due to lack of vital nutrients. Instead, simply aiding our bodies natural detoxification system (lungs, kidneys, liver, intestines & skin) with better food and lifestyle choices can more effectively restore our vitality and remove harmful toxins.
In this post I will guide you through the dos and donts of detoxing and share evidence-based tips on how to naturally detox our bodies.
First, let’s start with a definition.
What is detox and what are its benefits
Detox, short for detoxification, generally implies following a specific diet, routine or using special products to flush your body of accumulated toxins.
Benefits of detoxing obviously depend of the toxins you’re exposed to, but generally detox increases energy levels, boosts immune function, and promotes weight loss.
How to naturally detox
Before I start listing the best ways to detox, we need to “shut the back door” by minimizing the exposure to new toxins and harmful chemicals.
You can detox all you want but if you don’t limit the new exposure first, you’re not going to feel much different in the long term.
So, once the back door is shut, we can focus on the existing build-up and how to get rid of it. Here are some evidence-based and safe ways to start cleansing your body:
1. Limit Alcohol and Caffeine intake
As liver is the number one organ in charge of rendering toxins harmless, easing its workload is the logical start for your detox. Even if alcohol and caffeine aren't necessarily "toxic", but they do make liver's work more difficult if consumed excessively.
Be kind to your liver and change your beer to kombucha and coffee to green or herbal detox tea, which actually aid your natural detoxification process instead of overloading it.
2. Optimize your sleep
Sleeping allows your brain to recharge itself, as well as remove toxic waste byproducts that have accumulated throughout the day. Best way to make sure your brain gets to do its job uninterrupted is to optimize your sleep.
3. Drink more water
Drinking a tall glass of water first thing in the morning helps you flush out the toxins your brain has worked hard to remove throughout the night. Continuously drinking all day is important in order to effectively aid your digestion and detoxification systems. Good standard is to drink around 2 liters per day.
4. Eat more fiber
This is one of the most effective ways to detox as fiber literally scrubs your insides and removes unwanted substances. The lack of fiber is actually the reason why many of the juice cleanses are ineffective. When the fruits have been stripped out of the fiber - the juice itself does very little to detox the body. Therefore eating the whole fruit or drinking a detox smoothie is a better idea.
5. Exercise regularly
Exercising reduces inflammation, which helps your body’s systems — including its detoxification system — function properly. When we create a flow in our lymphatic system by moving our bodies with yoga for example, the more we help our lymphatic system to protect us from infections and remove unwanted toxins.
6. Sweat it out
Even though most detoxification happens in the liver and kidneys - sweating may also aid in removing toxins through our skin. Sauna or intense exercise both have several health benefits also apart from their detoxing effects and are a great way to increase your wellbeing.
7. Get a massage
Another way to boost our lymphatic system apart from moving our bodies is to have someone move it for you - by getting a massage! Massage may help with detoxification by increasing the circulation of blood and lymph and stimulating the detoxification organs.
So what is the perfect detox diet made of?
The answer might sound a bit plain, but the truth is --- the same ingredients than a regular healthy diet: high intake of fiber and antioxidants from whole foods and low intake of dairy, meat, and processed foods.
Unfortunately anyone who offers a miracle elixir or quick fix solution is probably just trying to find a way into your wallet.
However, it's true that there are few foods and herbs that deserve their title as detox superstars.
Ayurvedic Detox deserves its own section as it plays a big role in Ayurveda and has such a complex system for detoxification.
Ayurveda doesn’t have generic recommendations, but uses the individual constitutions (vata, pitta & kapha) as a a base of any detoxification plan and therefore the recommendations can vary greatly between individuals.
In Ayurveda, the accumulation of “Ama" is believed to be the cause for many imbalances. Ama means anything undigested; foods, toxins, thoughts etc.
The effects Ama are understood not to just manifest in our physical, but also in our energy body as a blockage of life force energy, prana.
Ayurvedic detox is 2 phased; it starts with Purvakarma which prepares and initiates the detox process with Snehan (oil massage) and Svedana (sweating) and then moves to Panchakarma which intensifies the detox with five treatments. Panchakarma treatments are called:
-Virechana (extreme bowel evacuation)
-Vaman (forced vomiting/purging through herbal treatments)
-Rakta moksha (bloodletting)
-Nasya (nasal clearance)
Some of the more extreme practices like Rakta moksha has been criticised by western medicine practitioners due to lack scientific evidence of its benefits and high risks.
However, Nasya and Basti are much less extreme and many have experienced them as helpful in the detox process.
Sum it up
The best detox is rarely a quick two-day juice cleanse. It's a continuous effort to adopt a lifestyle where you're able to minimize the exposure to new toxins and aid your natural detoxification system in order to stop toxins from accumulating.
The more intense interventions can also be effective for some people, but there isn't much evidence of their benefits yet.
It's important to mention that many alternative methods don’t have proof of their effectiveness because there simply isn’t funding for expensive studies about them.
Therefore, the best approach is to keep your mind open while searching the things best work for you but approach anything that hasn't been studied yet with extra caution.