Discover the many ways to detoxify your body, all with the potential to powerfully impact your long-term health.
In today’s society, we are continually interacting with things in our environment that may introduce toxins into our bodies, from the food we eat to our pillowcases to our cooking pans. Toxins are organic and non-organic matter that, once they come into contact with our bodies, can cause all sorts of mental and physical health problems (Trasande & Liu, 2011).
When you hear the word toxins, you might initially think of heavy metals in drinking water, pesticides in crops, or lead paint on the walls of your house. And not without reason: the cost of exposure to environmental toxins, even just among children in the USA, is approaching $100 billion dollars annually (Trasande & Liu, 2011).
But if we give the word “toxin” a broader definition, there are plenty of other, everyday encounters between our bodies and the world that cause us harm. In this article we will have a look at how we can detoxify our bodies to live cleaner, longer, healthier lives.
What Does It Mean to Detoxify Your Body?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, detoxification involves removing a toxin or its effects from someone (CDC, 2010). In simple terms, detoxifying your body is removing something harmful from it, or alleviating the harms it has caused.
How to Detoxify Your Body At Home
Eating cleansing foods. Foods in the Brassica family, such as bok choy, cauliflower, and broccoli, may be particularly helpful (Rose et al., 2005).
Supplementation with vitamins or minerals.
Eating probiotics. Probiotics are small living organisms, most often found in dairy products such as yogurt, and fermented foods such as sauerkraut or kimchi. Eating probiotics seems to be protective against the effects of heavy metals in your body (Giri et al., 2018; Larsen et al., 2013).
Reducing animal products. Avoiding red meat in particular can reduce exposure to toxins (Hennig et al., 2007).
Avoiding environmental exposure. Many behaviors fall into this category, from not microwaving plastic containers to buying foods in glass containers to buying organic produce to increasing ventilation in your home (Lu et al., 2006; Tarozzi et al., 2006).
Spending time in a sauna.
Trying an elimination diet. In an elimination diet, one begins by eating only a very small set of foods, then gradually adds more foods into the mix. Along the way, you track closely how you feel to see if the addition of certain foods makes you feel worse. For example, you might begin by eating no meat, dairy, wheat, or processed foods, and avoiding caffeine and alcohol. Then, gradually add in the healthier and more nutritious versions of some of these foods (for example, adding back in turkey, fish, and whole grains). A process like this gives your body time to recharge and helps you identify which foods may be especially toxic for your body (MacIntosh & Ball, 2000).
Detoxifying your body, at its core, means returning to a more natural way of living. It means renouncing many of the modern innovations that make our lives more convenient but expose us to unnatural and harmful chemicals and substances. Detoxing is as much about what you don’t do as what you do. So, when you think about detoxifying your own body, remember that the solutions are going to be specific to your own circumstances. If you try to think big and broad about detoxification; you would be doing your long-term health a real favor.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2010). Department of Health and Human Service's Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.
Giri, S. S., Yun, S., Jun, J. W., Kim, H. J., Kim, S. G., …, & Park, S. C. (2018). Therapeutic effect of intestinal autochthonous Lactobacillus reuteri P16 against waterborne lead toxicity in Cyprinus carpio. Frontiers in Immunology, 9, 1824.
Hennig, B., Ettinger, A. S., & Jandacek, R. J. (2007). Using nutrition for intervention and prevention against environmental chemical toxicity and associated diseases. Environmental Health Perspectives, 115, 493–495.
Larsen, N., Vogensen, F. K., Gobel, R. J., Michaelsen, K. F., Forssten, S. D., & Lahtinen, S. J. (2013). Effect of Lactobacillus salivarius Ls-33 on fecal microbiota in obese adolescents. Clinical Nutrition, 32, 935–940.
Lu, C., Toepel, K., & Irish, R. (2006). Organic diets significantly lower children's dietary exposure to organophosphorus pesticides. Environmental Health Perspectives, 114, 260–263.
MacIntosh, A., & Ball, K. (2000). The effects of a short program of detoxification in disease-free individuals. Alternative Therapies in Health Medicine, 6(4), 70-76.
Rose, P., Ong, C. N., & Whiteman, M. (2005). Protective effects of Asian green vegetables against oxidant induced cytotoxicity. World Journal of Gastroenterology, 11, 7607–7614.
Tarozzi, A., Hrelia, S., & Angeloni, C. (2006). Antioxidant effectiveness of organically and non-organically grown red oranges in cell culture systems. European Journal of Nutrition, 45, 152–158.
Trasande, L., & Liu, Y. (2011). Reducing the staggering costs of environmental disease in children, estimated at $76.6 billion in 2008. Health Affairs, 30(5), 863–870.