Cleanses and detoxes have become more and more popular in mainstream conversation – Everything from colonics to juice cleanses to supplements to bone broth have been touted to rid you of nasty toxins and to bring your body back into balance. In this guide, I’ll list 11 Top Signs You Need a Detox and I’ll tell you why!
While your body has multiple systems that help it naturally detox, poor lifestyle choices and constant exposure to environmental toxins can overwhelm our body’s innate detoxifying systems.
Even if you live a healthy lifestyle and only eat organic foods, you are still exposed to lots of unwanted toxins, especially considering that 83,000 new chemicals have been unleashed in our environment since the EPA has been counting (and they have only tested 200), according to a report by TIME magazine.
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! And that was 14 years ago!!!
Numerous studies show that everyone lives with a certain level of toxicity, even from birth, and when it comes down to it, everyone can benefit from an intensive and diligent detox. More than once per year.
Below I explain what happens to your body when it is overwhelmed by toxins and 11 signs that you need a detox.
What Happens When Your Body Is Overwhelmed By Toxins?
Most detoxification happens in your liver, where toxins are then converted into water-soluble molecules so that they can be eliminated (poop, pee, sweat, breath).
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.
If your liver is congested, and your digestive system, lymphatic system, and detox pathways are not functioning properly, the toxins find their way from the liver into the blood, fat cells, and brain, where they can sit for years.
11 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, imbalances in your microbiome, and stress can cause problems with your brain-adrenal communication. When your detoxification, adrenal, and immune systems are 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.
2. You are stressed out
Not all detoxes need to be solely food-based. In my private functional medicine practice in Santa Rosa, California, I often see patients with great diets and impeccable lifestyle habits that still exhibit autoimmune conditions, GI disturbances, depression, etc. When I come up with their Detox programs, many times I focus on a stress detox (always with detoxifying real foods!!). Stress is often a major contributing factor to chronic diseases, toxic buildup, and lowered immune systems.
This is why it’s important to detox from toxic relationships, social media (every so often), and negative thoughts, as well. You may find that during a cleanse you begin to feel a sense of calm. That is your body thanking you. Om.
3. You feel bogged down or have brain fog
If you cannot focus, or you struggle to remember details, you’re probably dealing with brain fog. Mental cloudiness, or brain fog, is a sign of toxic build-up. When your body can’t eliminate toxins fast enough, they increase inflammation, and that can occur in your brain just as easily as anywhere else in your body.
This inflammation can damage your protective blood-brain barrier, causing what is 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, decrease the inflammations, and take that added pressure off of your poor brain!
4. You exhibit autoimmune conditions
If there are too many toxins in your tissues, your immune system may begin to attack your body, bringing out what is otherwise known as an autoimmune condition. This can take form as thyroid issues (Hashimoto’s thyroiditis), joint (RA) and skin issues (psoriasis), or systemic illnesses (Lupus), among many many others.
Autoimmune issues can also be triggered by having a “leaky gut”, having too much inflammation, eating foods you may have sensitivities to, and from putting too much stress on your body…… all of which can be improved by a full body detox!
5. You are experiencing skin problems
Your skin will often be the first organ to reveal to you that something is going wrong in your body. It is the only organ that we can see, and our body always gives us clues, if we can listen. The message that you are overloaded with toxins can be brought to you by way of itchy or flaky skin, mild rashes, acne breakouts, and other blemishes.
We usually try to treat these things from the outside in, but often times it is the inside (in particular your lovely liver) that needs healing first. So, if your creams and saves are not taking care of your skin issues, you may be in need of a good whole-food and whole-life detox!
6. You get sick all the time
If you seem to pick up every cold, flu, bug, or virus that goes around, or if you catch a nasty cold every year requiring medication, this may be a sign that you need a good detox.
As mentioned before, if your detoxification system is in constant overdrive trying to rid the body of toxins, you will deprive your immune system of the energy that it needs to mount responses and 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 to help your body detox.
Constipation or irregular bowel movements can be caused by a change of diet, circadian rhythm disruption, dehydration, high levels of stress, and more, but it can also mean your body is building up toxicities. In fact, constipation is not only a sign you may need to detox, it also is one of the surest ways to cause a huge toxic buildup! If you are not getting rid of #2 at a minimum of once per day, then you are not getting rid of the toxins that your liver has worked hard to dump into your bile to be excreted out of your body….and if you don’t move it, the toxins reenter your body, and a very vicious toxic cycle begins..
A bi-annual detox will give your gut a much needed break so that you can truly heal your digestive system and your GI tract.
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 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 known as persistent organic pollutants (or POPs) can be to blame. These chemicals (and many more) are stored in your body fat, making the fat cells MUCH harder to break down (much like what these chemicals do for plastics), and this can increase your risk of weight gain and even type 2 diabetes, independent of your caloric intake.
There are multiple Scientific studies that suggest pesticides, heavy metals, BPA (from plastic), phthalates, and countless other environmental toxins can cause significant weight gain.
9. You are exposed to common environmental toxins
Unless you live far away from civilization, you are likely exposed to environmental toxins such as pesticides, brake dust, cleaning products, heavy metals, exhaust, building materials, mold, 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 household and personal products, and managing your stress as very best you can.
To decrease the impact of these everyday chemical exposures, I recommend that everyone take part in some sort of detoxification program at least twice a year.
See more ways to Detox Your Body Naturally
10. You experience joint pain and stiffness
Ongoing inflammation affects your joints and muscles. If you are constantly sore and achy – though you’re not hitting the gym any more than usual- you most likely have chronic inflammation that needs to be addressed.
Eating an anti-inflammatory diet, with alkaline foods, and adding lots of good detoxifying spices can be the jumpstart your joints need to bounce back to their normal pain free state!
11. 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 the TCM Liver hours of 1-4 a.m), this may be a sign you need to detox.
By eliminating toxins, helping your body to rid itself of unneeded hormones, optimizing your liver function, and reducing inflammation, you’ll be getting eight hours of uninterrupted shut-eye before you know it.
Feeling overwhelmed? Grab my free guide to reduce and eliminate common toxins in your home!
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.
In med school we are only taught the phases of liver detoxification in terms of processing pharmaceutical medications, alcohol, and metabolic waste. I had 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 many cleanses – juice fasts, shakes, supplements, and detox teas included – can sometimes be ineffective, or even harmful due to lack of enzymatic substrates or not supplying the required nutrients needed 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. Just because you release toxins from your tissues does not mean that you are eliminating them.
That’s why I created a 21-day detox for myself, that incorporates all of the ways I detox mind, body and spirit. I have gathered all of the information that I have learned over the last 10 years about detoxing and I have created an 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, exercises, holistic modalities, traditional therapies, herbs, a few optional supplements, and lots of encouragement and support from the Golden Road 365 Detox community! Join us in making detoxing more of a lifestyle. #retoxdetox #detoxretox ❤️See you there!!!❤️