Have you ever wondered if you should do a “cleanse” or “detox?”
(Especially after 2+ months of holiday indulgences.)
Whether it be a juice fast or 3-day spa retreat, the idea of doing something, anything, to get back to a “blank slate” is incredibly appealing – whether you’re struggling with health issues or have just gained a few unwanted pounds.
But do you really need to cleanse or detox your body?
The answer is – as usual – it depends.
Your Body Cleans Itself
Here’s what the lady selling you the 12-day juice fast cleanse might not have told you – our body actually cleans and detoxifies itself (no juice needed).
All of our organs are involved in the cleansing and detoxifying process, but there are some that are especially important:
The Liver: Our liver is one of our largest organs (it weighs about 2 pounds!) and is the most important detox organ. The liver has many important functions – it regulates blood composition, filters toxins out of the blood, processes the nutrients in the food we eat, and manufactures cholesterol and other important enzymes and proteins.
The Kidneys: Our kidneys work day in and day out to filter our blood and produce urine. This process helps keep our blood composition stable and electrolyte levels balanced.
The Lymphatic System: Our lymphatic system is a series of tubes that drains lymph fluid and circulates it through the bloodstream. The lymphatic system serves several purposes – it also drains interstitial fluid and transports white blood cells, among other roles.
But, The World Is Pretty Dirty
In a perfect world, our body’s natural detox processes would be completely adequate.
Unfortunately, we live in a very polluted world where most of us are exposed to hundreds of chemicals and toxins every day, from…
- Conventional produce and factory farmed meats
- Prescription drugs
- Processed foods
- Air and water pollution
(Not to mention the additional burden chronic stress places on all of us.)
So, even though our body is created to detox itself, because our world is so polluted, at times we can over tax our natural detox systems. Fortunately, there are things we can do to help support our body in detox.
3 Ways You Can Support Your Body In Detox
#1: Reduce Exposure To Pollutants
This one is the most obvious, but also the most important. While we can’t completely eliminate pollutants and toxins from our lives, there are easy steps we can take to reduce our exposure.
You don’t need to be perfect (trying to will only drive you crazy!). Start by swapping out the things you use the most or can most easily change. These are some of the real things I and our team do to limit exposure to pollutants:
- Replace conventional meat with grass-fed, organic meat from local farmers, US Wellness Meats or Butcher Box.
- Choose local, organic produce (consider a CSA in your area). If you can’t go 100% organic, focus on foods from the EWG’s Dirty Dozen.
- Swap out your most-used cosmetics for natural versions. (We switched to AnnMarie Gianni for skincare.)
- Replace harsh cleaning products in your home for homemade solutions with essential oils or probiotic cleansers.
- Pay attention to the air quality in your city. Don’t exercise outdoors when the air quality is poor.
- Get a water filter for your countertop, shower, or whole house.
- Get a high-quality indoor air filter.
#2: Sweat More
Changing what you put in your body is most important, but helping your body get waste out is the next best way to support detox.
Sweating is one way our body detoxes. When your toxin load is too large for your kidneys and liver to handle alone, getting a good sweat can help. This study demonstrated that arsenic, lead and other heavy metals can be excreted through sweat.
If you have access, sitting in a sauna is one of the best ways to work up a sweat. If you don’t, that doesn’t mean you can’t get sweaty – a hard workout (if you can tolerate it), a walk in the sun, or even a hot bath can all be effective ways to get sweaty, too.
If you’re getting sweaty, be certain you’re also re-hydrating properly. Here are 3 hydration drinks to try post-sweat.
#3: Keep Regular
If you’re not pooping regularly, you’re not detoxing properly – no matter how clean your diet or lifestyle is. If poop is backing up, you’re at increased risk for toxic megacolon, diverticulitis, impacted colon, and anal fissures. Plus, it means toxins and waste are literally just sitting in your body.
So, what is “regular?” You should be going at LEAST once per day (up to after every meal is normal, too). When you do go, it should be quick and effortless – and you should have a #4 on the Bristol Stool chart every time.
If you’re not there yet, here are a few recommendations:
- Get a Squatty Potty to put your body in the right alignment for easy evacuation (this really works!)
- Make some dietary changes
- Avoid habit-forming laxatives (even natural ones)
If you’re still not pooping regularly, get more help here.
Step Away From The Juice
It’s not as flashy as a detox kit or juice fast, but these are the real ways you can support your body in detoxing.
Pair these 3 techniques with a healthy, customized-for-you diet and you shouldn’t need any other types of cleanses or detoxes.
P.S. What other practices do you use to support detoxification? I’d love to know what works for you.