In this article, I explain How to Detox Your Body and I also share many ways to avoid toxins in the first place!! I incorporate these tips and health hacks into my life for my family and home every single day. I also teach these principles to my patients in my private functional medicine practice in Santa Rosa, California.
These tips will not only help your body to detoxify more efficiently, but they will also help to optimize all of your biochemical pathways, enhancing longevity, so you can live a longer, happy and healthy life.
It is important to note that your body has many ways to eliminate toxins, but lifestyle choices play a vital role in both liver detoxification and in the fat loss that leads to decreased toxin storage.
The choices you make everyday impact your health more than your genetics!! Epigenetics (lifestyle modifications that turn on and off different genes) are the key to overcoming the genes with which you were born.
If you are not exactly sure what detoxing is, or how your body naturally eliminates toxins, read my What is Detoxing article, as I have included the basics there.
Below are 16 amazing ways to detox. These tips are supposed to be easy, so that you can incorporate them into your life, every single day!
How to Detox your Body:
1. Eat Real, Nutrient-dense & Detoxifying Foods!
Certain foods are known for their detoxification properties (see list below), and adding them into meals will keep your detox systems running smoothly. In addition, your body needs many vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to support its complex detox pathways, and the best way to get these is from non-GMO foods that have been grown in nutrient-rich soil. Nutrients from food are always better than those from a pill.
In my 21-day online detoxification program, nutrient-rich organic foods are the biggest emphasis for detoxification. Anyone can buy detox supplements, but if you don’t change what you put into your body, you will not make real progress. There is a reason it is called “eating CLEAN”.
It’s important to note that these foods must be organically grown to be therapeutic and fully detoxifying because conventionally grown foods are sprayed with toxins such as pesticides and herbicides! Adding in some of the detoxifying foods below will help your body to eliminate such toxins that you may be harboring in your body.
Read more on the Benefits of Organic Food
Eat up!! These foods will detox your body:
Green leafy veggies: Kale, dandelion leaves, spinach, parsley, cilantro, cruciferous veggies, and celery all contain vital nutrients, lots of fiber, and chlorophyll, which helps to cleanse the blood.
Superfoods with Polyphenols: Examples include leafy greens, cacao, berries like blueberries, and coffee (ironically, caffeine is not supposed to be consumed during an intense liver cleanse due to it)
Healthy fats: Omega-3 rich foods like salmon and walnuts, avocados, olive oil, ghee (clarified butter), and MCT oil.
Prebiotics Foods: Raw Sauerkraut or kimchi, Kefir, yogurt, natto soybeans, Kombucha, tempeh, Miso, fermented pickles (must say so on the label, as some pickles are fermented in a saltwater brine, and some are made with vinegar and not fermented), etc….
Mushrooms: There are many medicinal mushrooms with tons of detoxifying properties including shitake, maitake, reishi, chaga, and lion’s mane. I am such a fan of medicinal mushrooms that every month in my newsletter I have a “monthly mushroom” column!!
Organic and pasture-raised/grass-fed meats, pastured eggs, wild-caught fish: Conventionally raised meat is not only raised with injected hormones and antibiotics that stunt your body’s detoxification system and kill your good microbes, but they are also raised in unethical and unsustainable practices. You will get even more nutrients from organic and pasture-raised organ meats and bone broth.
Foods with Citric and Malic Acid: these include apples, grapefruit, limes, and lemons.
Herbs and Spices: Anything hot and spicy gets things moving! Other detoxifying herbs & spices include cilantro, parsley, dill, ginger, rosemary, and turmeric.
Red Foods: These foods, like cranberries and cherries, get your lymph moving. Beets are particularly amazing as they additionally thin your bile for healthy fat digestion!
Teas: Green tea, matcha, jasmine, pau d’arco, and dandelion are just a few of the many detoxifying teas.
2. Stay Away from Processed Foods
There are many reasons why you want to avoid processed foods in order to boost your health. The more processed the food is (ie. the less likely that your great-grandmother would recognize it as “food”) the farther it is away from its natural state, and the worse it is for you.
Processed foods often include toxins such as additives like Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) and artificial toxic food coloring. Many food colorings like red #40, yellow #6, and blue #2 have been banned in European countries due to health risks. Harmful pesticides (found on non-organic foods and crops sprayed pre-harvest), rancid vegetable oils, MSG, artificial sweeteners, Sodium Benzoate, Sodium Nitrates, and Sodium Nitrites can all be found in processed foods.
Many of these toxins are known as endocrine disruptors (they disrupt your hormones like estrogen and testosterone) and carcinogens (they cause cancer). Processed foods often contain multiple forms of sugar (corn syrup (really corn anything), things that end in -ose or -ase, etc) and can also cause insulin resistance and worsening inflammation, two of the biggest markers for chronic disease.
When you do eat things that come in a box or a bag, try to limit the number of total ingredients. You want to be able to picture each ingredient in your head AND be able to pronounce each one.
3. Stop Consuming Mercury and Heavy Metals
While fish is very healthy for you, unfortunately, many fish can be poisoned with the neurotoxin, mercury. The best way to avoid mercury is to avoid big fish that tend to have a bigger build-up of mercury. This is why tiny sardines are a safer bet than big old net caught tuna!
See the Natural Resource Defense Council’s guide for choosing fish with the lowest mercury content. The fish below are the ones to avoid!!!
4. Stay Hydrated and Drink Water!
In order for your body to eliminate toxins, they need to be converted into a water-soluble form so that they can be excreted (toxins often exist in our bodies in a fat-soluble form hidden in excess fat). Hydration is important because it helps your body to eliminate the water-soluble toxins once you have expended all that energy to convert them. If you are not sufficiently hydrated the converted water-soluble toxins will just reabsorb, rather than flush out of your body.
On a normal basis, you should aim to drink half of your body weight, in ounces, per day. Ex: If you weigh 160 lbs, you need to drink 80 oz/day to day hydrated. If you are on an intense cleanse day, or you do something that makes you sweat a lot, you may want to double that amount!
Finally, make sure that you are consuming filtered water, as tap water has its own set of toxins! You can look up the toxin levels of your tap water on EWG’s tap water database. You can also use their guide to find out what kind of filter would be ideal for you, based on the contaminants of your specific tap water. Boom.
5. Exercise and Move Every Day!
Exercise and movement are important for so many reasons when it comes to health and longevity, but one way that exercise helps you eliminate toxins is through sweating. Sweating helps remove metals like arsenic, lead, and mercury! Weight-bearing exercise, like running or jumping, also helps you to reduce lymphatic congestion. When your lymph is moving toxins are being delivered to organs that can help eliminate them. Stagnant lymph = toxic buildup.
6. To Detox Your Body, Get Some Quality Sleep
Good-quality sleep is essential for the rejuvenation of cells that help with the healing and repair of your heart, muscles and blood vessels. Quantity, however, is not the same as quality, but both are important. While you ideally want at least 7-10 hours of sleep per night, you also want sufficient deep sleep.
If you have trouble sleeping, avoid caffeine in the afternoon, and stop eating at least 3 hours before bedtime (though preferably before sunset).
To enhance the quality of your sleep, stay away from blue lights at night (these come from your phone, TV, iPad, etc), and turn off or put electronics on airplane mode overnight.
Radiation from screens/devices and EMFs disrupt your circadian rhythm. For more tips on a night of great night sleep, check out my free video series, where I go much more in-depth on the subject of sleep and EMFs.
See my article on Signs Your Body Needs a Detox.
7. Sweat it OUT
As mentioned above, when you exercise and your body temperature rises, you increase blood flow, which helps circulate toxins so that they can be more easily excreted.
Sweating helps the body excrete toxic heavy metal carcinogens like arsenic, lead, mercury, & cadmium, BPA, Phthalates, PCBs, PBBs, and HCBs.
Another amazing way to detox your body is via saunas or steam baths, which also release these toxins through your skin as you sweat. Make sure to get the toxins off your skin as soon as you can after you sweat in a shower with soap. Otherwise, all those water-soluble toxins just absorb right back in through your skin (see #8 ).
8. Manage Your Stress
Your body must be in the parasympathetic state (rest, digest, and detox!) in order to heal itself. Chronic stress doesn’t allow you to access this. By deactivating your stressed-out sympathetic system (and therefore activating you’re parasympathetic), you also decrease the toxic load that needs to get processed through your liver in the first place.
Think of it this way: under acute stress (ie: you are being chased by a bear), our bodies were created to produce catecholamines (chemical hormones such as adrenaline, cortisol, and norepinephrine).
This protective adaptation is designed to get us into “fight-or-flight” mode, where we can fight harder, or run faster. We were NOT, however, designed to live our lives like we are constantly being chased by a bear (due to a crappy boss, a difficult child, a meeting, project, deadline, or overwhelm…..). We need to be able to rest, digest and detox!
These chemicals are important for survival, but like ANY other chemical, their build-up in our bodies can be toxic. Our detoxification system is designed to get rid of a normal amount of these chemicals so that they don’t build up and cause disease.
However, if you are stressed ALL the time, you are flooded with these chemicals ALL the time, and your liver cannot keep up with the demand.
Meditation is one excellent way to manage stress. It also improves sleep quality, reduces anxiety, enhances mental focus, slows aging, and boosts your immune system. It helps relax those stress responses that are pumping too many catecholamines into your body, creating inflammation and toxic build-up.
Even just taking a few really deep breaths in a row can help you to reset your nervous system. Give it a try the next time you feel like you are being pushed into that flight/flight sympathetic state (as long as you are not actually being chased by a bear ?!)
9. Avoid Toxic Skin Products
Everything from moisturizers, sunscreen, shampoo, and cosmetics can contain paraben, petrochemicals, lead or other toxins. These nasty chemicals and byproducts are easily absorbed through the skin, your LARGEST organ!!
Consider why so many medications are put into patches these days?? Your bloodstream is JUST below your thin dermal layers (dermis = skin), and it is a perfect way to absorb medications right into your bloodstream to take action. Well, guess what happens when you put toxins on your skin???? Yup, straight into your bloodstream! ?
Bottom line: If you wouldn’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin. Homemade products are the best, but there are a lot of non-toxic products out there that work really well. Soon, I will share a video of my homemade lavender coconut milk shampoo recipe!
Please visit EWG’s page about skin products to learn more about the products you are using, and to find less toxic alternatives that you can use instead!
10. Get Outside
Breathe fresh air into your lungs, take deeper rejuvenating breaths, and receive your daily dose of vitamin D all at the same time!
The Japanese spent years researching how beneficial nature is for your overall health, immune system and stress level. In the 1980’s they adapted Shinrin Yoku (forest bathing) as part of their national preventative healthcare services.
They encourage all of their citizens to get out in nature as often as they can, preferably at least one weekend per month, for the continued benefits.
A 2010 review of 24 of these studies found that forest bathing activates your parasympathetic nervous system (see #7) which helps heal and detoxify. Enjoying time in nature has been proven to decrease stress, increase energy, boost immunity, enhance cognition, help regulate blood sugar, and improve sleep.
It’s intuitive, right? Spending time in nature just feels good! So go for a hike, ride a bike, plant a garden, read a book under a tree, exercise outside instead of at a gym, or go for a walk outside during your lunch break. There are so many ways to spend more time in nature.
11. Avoid Household Chemicals and Toxic Products
There are approximately 80,000 commercial and industrial chemicals used today in the United States, and many of those are found in our home cleaning products. Many of these have been banned in Europe, but not in America. Unfortunately, if you are in The States, you MUST do your own homework regarding the products you bring into your home.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the air inside the typical home is, on average, 5 times more polluted than the air outside. In extreme cases, indoor air quality has been found to be 100 times more contaminated than outside air!
You would think that they would ban some of the chemicals that are causing these issues!! But since they don’t, keep your windows open whenever the weather affords you to do so!
The indoor pollutants that affect health the most are formaldehyde, Volatile Organic Compounds (or VOCs – benzene and trichloroethylene), airborne biological pollutants, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, pesticides, disinfectants (phenols), and radon.
Household cleaners and home pesticides that contain these toxic chemicals that are “known”, or “probable” carcinogens, hormone disruptors, neurotoxins, mood-altering chemicals, reproductive toxins, and of course, skin, lung and eye irritants. YUCK!
These pollutants can cause symptoms ranging from allergies, headaches, and fatigue all the way to nervous-system disorders, cancer or even death. If you feel any of these symptoms when you are in your own home (or workplace), but symptoms resolve when you leave, it could be toxic indoor air resulting in ‘sick building syndrome’.
Do not despair!!!! There are plenty of natural products that do not use Parabens, Triclosan, Phthalates, etc. Start by replacing your cleaning products with non-toxic and natural alternatives. Apple Cider vinegar mixed with essential oils and water can pack an incredible cleaning punch! Keep the windows open when you can and get a good HEPA air filter for your home. Additionally, there are many indoor house plants (certain palms, rubber plants, ferns, etc) that can help remove toxins as well!
Love the air you breathe!
12. Dry Brushing to Help you Move Your Lymph
In #4 I touch on how important it is to move your lymph in order to efficiently detoxify your body, but bouncing is not the only way. Dry Brushing is an ancient technique that is used throughout the world for its amazing health benefits. Although it can be done at home easily in only 5-10 min, I have seen dry brushing pop on spa menus everywhere! Not only does it help with detoxification, but it is also known to decrease cellulite as well!!
Use a natural bristle brush (boar bristle is a common one) and brush your skin in upward (or small circular) strokes, starting at your feet and moving up your legs. You always brush towards your heart, as that is the direction that lymph flows.
Repeat starting with your hands, and move up each arm toward your heart. Try to brush each area multiple times until your skin becomes pink (don’t do it so hard it turns red!).
You may even work up a little sweat if you do it vigorously enough. You can do your abdomen, back (as much as you can reach), and some people like to dry brush their face. They do make smaller softer facial dry brushes. When you are finished, shower off the dead debris and enjoy your healthy radiant glowing skin (and detoxed body!!).
13. Oil Pulling
Oil pulling is another ancient Ayurvedic process in which you swish 1-2 tablespoons of organic coconut, sesame, or other therapeutic oil around your mouth and through your teeth for 10-20 minutes.
SPIT out the dirty oil, do not swallow it! Don’t let the dirty oil touch the back of your throat, and definitely, do not gargle it.
The antibacterial and antiviral properties of the oil can “pull” bacteria and waste from areas that even mouthwash cannot reach. After oil pulling, rinse your mouth with warm water and brush those pearly whites.
If you are going for a really detoxed mouth, I also highly recommend tongue scraping as another way to remove excess toxins and achieve a really clean feeling mouth. It also helps to open the energy Channels that end on your tongue!
14. Drink detoxifying herbal teas
Some of the most detoxifying teas include dandelion, turmeric, Holy basil, milk thistle, and lemongrass. Drinking herbal tea can not only reduce your stress, but these herbs also help to get the lymph flowing, nourish your liver, or boost other properties of your detoxification system!
Starting and ending your day with a great warming cup of herbal tea can be just what you need to get rid of more toxins!
15. Reduce EMFs
EMFs are electromagnetic fields or invisible lines of force that emanate from any electrical or wireless device. Low-frequency EMFs are emitted by the electricity that enters your home and appliances that run off of that electricity. High-Frequency EMFs (also known as Radio Frequency or “RF”) are generated by all of our wireless devices.
The National Institutes of Health recently released a report which proved the connection between close-range cell phone use and certain kinds of cancer. Cellphones are just one source of harmful EMFs, however.
In Switzerland, doctors concluded that 5% of symptoms in patients could be traced to “dirty electricity” exposure that comes from our newer and abundant electronic devices. In the US, doctors are more hesitant to make the correlation between these devices and our increasing disease burden.
I would love to solely blame the chemical toxins in our lives for the tsunami of chronic disease and illness that have become our reality.
However, they cannot account for all of the anxiety, headaches, fatigue, low energy, stress, infertility, and unexplained pain that I am seeing in patients. Much that contributes to these illnesses correlates with the rise in the use of cell phones, smart TVs, and Bluetooth everything!
In 2011, before everything you owned had Bluetooth capacity, the WHO (World Health Organization) classified EMFs as “possibly carcinogenic to humans” based on the upsurge of glioma brain cancers. The EPA, on the other hand, has not surveyed EMF levels in the US since 1979. This predated cell phones.
A few simple actions can turn your home into an “EMF-free zone.”
1. Make sure your bed is located as far away as possible from SMART meters. In fact, do not use SMART meters if at all possible.
2. Turn off your Wi-Fi routers before you sleep so that EMFs do not disturb the quality sleep you need to detox and heal.
3. Put your cell phone on airplane mode at night
4. Use wired headphones, or speakerphone, when talking on your cell
5. Do not use your laptop in your lap; I know, an oxymoron. Infertility rates have skyrocketed since the 90s! SKYROCKETED
6. Use hard wire printers, mouses, keyboards, and headphones
7. Change your bed frame to one with no metal parts. Metal acts as a conductor for EMF radiation. If you have trouble sleeping, this may be the first thing you replace.
16. Practice Gratitude and Appreciation
Last on this list of ways to detoxify your body, but certainly not least, is to practice gratitude and take time in your life to be grateful for what you have!
The mind-body connection is real! If your mind is in a place of positivity, your body will function (and detoxify) at optimal capacity. Happy mind = Happy body!!!
Final Thoughts on How to Detox Your Body
When I started researching and attending Functional Medicine conferences on detoxification, I realized how little education about detoxification is taught in medical school.
Moreover, many popular cleanses – juice fasts, shakes, supplements, and detox teas included – can sometimes be ineffective, or even harmful due to lack of enzymatic substrates or required nutrients to actually eliminate the toxins.
That’s why I created a 21-day online detoxification program that helps incorporate healthy choices 365 days a year.
For a one-time membership, you can participate in our twice-yearly program that combines various therapeutic foods, therapies, supplements, and the support of our 365 detox community!
Please reach out to me if you have any comments or questions!