Cleanses and detoxes have become more and more popular in mainstream conversation: everything from colonics to juice cleanses to supplements to bone broth. In this guide, I’ll list 12 Signs You Need a Detox and why!
While your body has multiple systems that help it naturally detox via the liver, lymphatic system, digestive system, etc., poor lifestyle choices and constant exposure to environmental toxins can overwhelm our body’s innate detoxifying systems.
Even if you live a very healthy lifestyle and only eat organic foods, you are still exposed to toxins, considering the 80,000 new chemicals have been unleashed in our environment, according to a report by TIME magazine. (1)
The CDC (Center for Disease Control) found about 212 environmental chemicals in the average person’s blood. (2)
In a 2005 study, the Environmental Working Group and Red Cross looked at the umbilical cords of newborns and concluded that the average infant is born with over 200 industrial chemicals and unnatural compounds in their blood. (3)
Numerous studies show that everyone lives with a level of toxicity, even from birth, and when it comes down to it, everyone can benefit from a more intensive and diligent detox.
Below I explain what happens to your body when it is overwhelmed by toxins and signs that you need a detox.
What Happens When Your Body Is Overwhelmed By Toxins?
When you ingest toxins via your food and water, they shuffle through the stomach into the small intestine, where bile from the liver and gallbladder emulsify them.
In the small intestine, millions of small villi and mucous membranes sweep the gut, absorb good fats, and send toxic fats on to the liver for processing.
Your lymphatic system collects waste in the forms of toxins, dead cells, and unneeded hormones from every cell in your body. It carries the waste through a system of vessels and nodes, fights invaders along the way, and delivers it to the heart for proper disposal. The heart then pumps the waste, via the bloodstream, to the liver.
Most detoxification happens in your liver, where toxins are then converted into water-soluble methods of elimination (poop, pee, sweat, breath).
BUT if your digestive system, lymphatic system, and detox pathways are not functioning properly, and your liver is congested, the toxins find their way from the liver into the blood, fat cells, and brain, where it can sit for years.
12 Signs Your Body Needs to Detox
1. You constantly feel fatigued and overwhelmed
If you suffer from chronic fatigue and stress, it may be a sign your body needs to detox. Toxin buildup, inflammation, microbiome imbalances, or stress can cause problems with your brain-adrenal communication. When your immune system is working overtime ALL the time, it’s no surprise that you feel stressed and tired!
Evidence strongly suggests that toxins (such as pesticides) can induce fatigue (5).
2. You are often stressed out
Not all detoxes need to be food-based. In my private functional medicine practice in Santa Rosa, California, I often see patients with good diets and lifestyle habits yet still exhibit autoimmune conditions, depression, etc. Stress is often a contributing factor to chronic diseases.
This is why it’s important to detox from toxic relationships, social media, and negative thoughts too. You may find that during a cleanse you begin to feel a sense of calm.
3. You constantly feel bogged down in a mental brain fog
If you lack the ability to focus or struggle to remember details, you’re dealing with brain fog, which is a sign of toxic build up. When your body can’t eliminate toxins fast enough, they increase inflammation.
This inflammation leads to damage to your protective blood-brain barrier, also known as “leaky brain.” A decrease in inflammation will relieve the oxidative stress in the hypothalamus of the brain. A detox will help you flush out all of those toxins.
One case study, for example, found improvements in energy levels when mercury was detoxified from the body (5).
4. You exhibit autoimmune conditions
If there are too many toxins in your tissues, your immune system may attack your body, otherwise known as an autoimmune condition.
5. You are experiencing skin problems
Your skin will often be the first to reveal that something is going wrong in your body through itchy skin, mild rashes, breakouts, and blemishes.
Since your skin also eliminates waste through sweating, toxicities can appear on the surface in the form of acne and rashes.
6. Your immune system is constantly under stress
If you seem to pick up colds, flu, bugs, and viruses easily and are often on medication, this may be a sign that you need a detox.
As mentioned before, if your immune system is in constant overdrive trying to rid the body of detoxes, you will fall more susceptible to bugs and viruses.
7. You are experiencing digestive distress
This is one of the most obvious signs that you need to change your diet and help your body detox. Symptoms such as bloating, gas, diarrhea, and constipation are signs that your digestion system is not functioning properly.
Constipation or irregular bowel movements can be caused by a change of diet, circadian rhythm disruption, lack of fiber, dehydration, high levels of stress, and more, but it can also mean your body is building up toxicities.
Pooping is our body’s natural way of removing waste, toxins, and hormones, so it is important that you are eliminating this waste at least 1-2 times a day.
A bi-annual detox will give your gut a break so that you can heal your digestion system.
8. You struggle with cellulite and excess body weight
Perhaps the most surprising sign you need to detox is if you have trouble losing weight.
Of course, there’s no denying that your lifestyle choices, eating habits, and hormonal imbalances have a lot to do with weight problems, but increased belly (visceral) fat is a sign that your body needs to detox too!
If you are struggling to lose weight despite taking healthy and proper steps, consider that environmental toxins, such as BPA and other chemicals that are known as persistent organic pollutants (or POPs), can increase the risk of weight gain and even type 2 diabetes independent of calorie intake.
Scientists found multiple studies that suggest pesticides, heavy metals, BPA (from plastic), phthalates, and countless other environmental toxins can cause significant weight gain (7).
9. You are exposed to common environmental toxins such as carbon emissions, pesticides, heavy metals, and household chemicals.
This one might be a bit obvious because unless you live far away from civilization, you are more than likely exposed to environmental toxins, such as pesticides, brake dust, heavy metals, and more. Rather than stress about what you can’t control, it is best to take proper steps for what you can control by eating organic foods, using natural hygienic, household, and personal products, and managing your stress.
See more ways to Detox Your Body Naturally
10. You are experiencing joint pain and stiffness
Ongoing inflammation will affect your joints and muscles. If you are constantly sore and achy – though you’re not hitting the gym – you most likely have chronic inflammation that needs to be addressed.
11. Your BO and breath are not so fresh or clean
Body odor is a sign that toxins have reached an overwhelming level.
12. You aren’t sleeping well
Underlying hormonal issues like adrenal fatigue and leptin resistance can lead to irregular circadian rhythms. If you are experiencing insomnia or early morning awakenings especially between 1-4 a.m, this may be a sign you need to detox. By eliminating toxins and reducing inflammation you’ll be getting eight interrupted hours of shut-eye before you know it.
How to Detox
When I started researching and attending Functional Medicine conferences on detoxification, I realized how little education about detoxification is taught in medical school.
They only teach the phases of liver detoxification regarding processing pharmaceutical medications, alcohol, and metabolic waste. I have completed at least 15 cleanses and detoxes over the years, I ate mostly organic food, used “all natural” cleaning and body products, and assumed I was being completely proactive.
The problem is I never learned WHY or IF each protocol helped me to detox. Many fad 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.
I have learned that not consuming proper healthy fats, omega-3 fatty acids, and other nutrients during a cleanse can make you more toxic.
That’s why I created an online, 21-day 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!