In a sense, your body is like your house, your car, your garage, or your desk. Over time, any of those things get cluttered, and then it comes time to focus on picking up, cleaning up, and tossing stuff in order to get yourself back to a clean state. Just like your entire house and yard has to go through spring cleaning – and fall cleaning can’t hurt, either – your body is always in need of a cleansing of its own, or what we like to call “detoxification.”
You’ve probably heard it dozens of times if not hundreds – a friend or family member tells you about a detoxification program – a “body cleanse,” if you will – that they’ve heard about, or read about, or even tried. Before you take the detox dive yourself, however, it helps to know what you’d be getting into and if any of this stuff really works.
What Does It Mean to Detox?
In short, detoxing means flushing out your body – sort of like what your car mechanic occasionally does with your radiator – of toxins that have accumulated over time and are potentially wreaking havoc on your body and your health. For most people, performing a detox involves stepping off life’s merry-go-round for a week to 10 days – or longer – to follow a specific juice-based diet or use special products “that claim to rid your body of toxins, thereby improving health and promoting weight loss,” as healthline.com puts it.
Toxins targeted in specific detox diets typically include pollutants, synthetic chemicals, heavy metals, and processed foods, per healthline.com, and these can impair your health. The problems can worsen the longer you go without performing your own “spring cleansing,” whether through a special diet or by making adjustments in your lifestyle and dietary habits over the course of 365 days a year.
Can the Body Detox on Its Own?
Your body is quite capable of detoxifying itself without special diets or expensive gimmicks to do the work for you. The trick is in caring for your body with TLC to allow its own detox system to keep operating at peak efficiency. Your body knows what it needs; your role is to give it what it wants, consistently, day after day.
Your body’s mechanisms for eliminating toxins utilizes your liver, kidneys, digestive system, and lungs. If these organs are kept healthy (that’s your job), they can be effective and efficient in naturally giving the boot to unwanted substances. As maxliving.com puts it, detoxification starts in your liver, where toxic substances are converted into highly reactive metabolites that are then excreted, with your kidneys, lungs, and gut also playing a role.
When that system gets overloaded with toxins – breathing too much bad air, exposure to toxic household cleaners, eating a lot of unhealthy stuff, etc. – the liver’s detox mechanism gets sluggish. That allows toxins to stick around and accumulate, essentially making us sick and inhibiting normal metabolism.
Toxins posing dangers can also be low-grade toxins such as the residue from the fruits and veggies you eat. Don’t fret: they won’t pose a problem as long as your body’s natural detox system is working properly, but it can become a source of sickness if, as described earlier, your liver et al become sluggish.
How Can You Help Detoxify Your Body?
If you want to try the occasional fast or cleansing of, say, two weeks’ duration, be sure to do it under supervision of a properly licensed healthcare provider, such as your physician. Otherwise, here are some tips to incorporate into your daily life that together can help your body purify itself:
- Cut back on alcohol. Per healthline.com, more than 90 percent of the alcohol you consume is metabolized in the liver. Your liver is capable of converting toxins from alcohol into a harmless substance, acetate, that is later expelled from your body, but excessive amounts of alcohol can significantly damage liver function.
- Get plenty of sleep. Seven to nine hours is usually sufficient. Your sleep allows your body to bolster your immune system and focus on removing toxic waste that built up during the day.
- Limit your sugar intake. Excessive consumption of sugary, highly processed foods can lead to chronic conditions such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, which in turn can hinder your body’s natural detoxification functions.
- Eat a healthy diet. Natural fats and oils, such as extra virgin oil and organic coconut oil, offer a good foundation by providing energy for the detox process, per maxliving.com. Other food choices such as nuts, seeds, proteins, legumes, fruits, and vegetables all play a role in healthy detox. Also look for consumables rich in antioxidants – coffee, green tea, and berries fit that bill.
- Reduce inflammation. Some inflammation is needed for healing processes within your body, but too much means trouble. Wild-caught seafood (such as salmon), plant foods abundant in omega-3 fatty acids and spices such as turmeric can help reduce inflammation that can inhibit detoxification, per maxliving.com.
- Drink plenty of properly filtered water. Hydration gives a healthy boost to the body’s detox apparatus.
- Sweat out toxins. Get plenty of exercise, whether it’s hot yoga, interval training, pumping iron, etc. – whatever fits your workout plan best.