What Is Detoxing and why should YOU care?!
Well, first, let’s define detoxing. Detoxification is the process by which your body neutralizes, transforms, and excretes unwanted toxins, acquired via food, water, and environmental pollutants.
Your body has many ways to eliminate toxins, but lifestyle choices play an essential role in detoxification and fat loss.
Your body requires hundreds of nutrients, enzymes, and vitamins to transform these toxins into a water-soluble form to actually remove and eliminate toxins from the body.
When we are talking about detoxification, we are talking about improving and optimizing our body’s OWN detoxification systems.
Your body is incredible, and has many ways of naturally detoxing itself; however, the more toxins we are exposed to, the easier it is to reach a toxic threshold and overwhelm the body’s natural detoxification systems. When this occurs, we can take extra steps through diligent cleanses to help our body flush out stored toxins.
When your body becomes bogged down and overwhelmed by toxins, it can lead to symptoms of fatigue, brain fog, headaches, skin issues (acne, rashes, eczema), difficulty with weight loss, insomnia, infertility, body pain, bad breath, and more.
See my article on Signs Your Body Needs a Detox.
In this article, I am going to explain how your body’s systems naturally detox, provide some helpful tips for what YOU can do to help your body detox daily, and ultimately explain the benefits of detoxification cleanses!
Where to these Toxins Come From?
As many as 80,000 commercial and industrial chemicals are now in use in the United States, and approximately 6.5 billion pounds of chemicals are released into the air each year. YUCK! (1-1)
Non-organic foods are laden with pesticides and herbicides (even organic food is affected by water and air).
This is especially true for the Dirty Dozen foods, conventionally raised meats and dairy, and any packaged foods with non-organic ingredients (crackers, sauces, bread, chocolate, etc.)
See my guide on The Benefits of Organic Food for more information.
It doesn’t stop at food either. Many toxins are absorbed by your largest organ – your SKIN – via household cleaning products, air pollutants, soap, make-up, and more.
To put it in perspective, humans are exposed to toxins before they are born. The Environmental Working Group and Red Cross published a 2005 study that looked at the umbilical cords of newborns. The study showed that the average infant is born with over 200 industrial chemicals and unnatural compounds in their blood.
We cannot force the neighbors to stop spraying chemicals on their lawn (that drift into our garden, water, and home), and we cannot change the pollution in the air we breathe. But we CAN help our body unload the burden of toxins through everyday lifestyle habits AND extra assistance via bi-annual detoxification cleanses.
Feeling overwhelmed? Grab my free guide to reduce common toxins in your home!
How Does Your Body Naturally Detox?
Your body detoxifies through many different systems, primarily your digestive system, bile, liver, kidneys, and your lymphatic system, which are all influenced by the nervous system.
Fat burning is also important to eliminate toxins, which I will get to later in this article.
When you ingest toxins via your food and water, they move through the stomach into the small intestine, where your body absorbs the good stuff and prepares to eliminate the bad.
In the small intestine, millions of small villi and lacteals (mucous membranes) sweep the gut, absorb good fats, and send toxic fats on to the liver for processing. Your bile also helps to eliminate toxic fats via your stool.
The Lymphatic system in your intestinal tract helps also helps to absorb and process good fats, bad fats, and undigested proteins.
I like to compare the Lymphatic system in your body to the trash management system for your home.
You have to properly discard trash from your home or else it can build up over time and cause a host of problems. The Lymphatic system collects waste in the forms of dead cells, unneeded hormones, and toxins.
Ideally, your Lympathic system collects this “trash” from every cell in your body, carries it 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.
Stagnant lymph results in a similar situation to garbage build up in your home. Imagine if you let the garbage in your home pile up for months or even years!
The liver is one of the largest organs in the body. It converts nutrients into substances that the body can use, stores these substances, and supplies cells with them when needed. Most detoxification also happens in your liver, where toxins are then converted into water-soluble methods to be released from the body.
As I said before, your body is incredible and has many ways to naturally eliminate toxins, BUT if your digestive and detox pathways are not functioning properly, toxins find their way from the liver into the blood, fat cells, and brain, where it can sit for years.
3 Main Steps to Address Detoxification
Water-soluble toxins are easily flushed out via the blood and kidneys. Unfortunately, many unnatural toxins are introduced as fat-soluble toxins and must become water-soluble to be eliminated fully. Examples include heavy metals, pesticides, food additives, persistent organic pollutants (POPs), phthalates, and bisphenol A (BPA).
To help your body detox, here are 3 important steps:
- Reduce Exposure to Toxins – There are simple changes that you can make to avoid and reduce toxins. Get them out of your home, off of your body, and out of your food!
- Biotransformation of Toxins – Real therapeutic foods provide the enzymes, nutrients, and vitamins to transform toxins into water-soluble substances, so they can actually exit your body. Certain foods boost your liver function too!
- Elimination – Your body eliminates toxins via stool, urine, sweat, and breath.
How to Detox your Body
Your body eliminates toxins via sweat, urine, stool, and breath. There are ways to optimize these methods through everyday lifestyle choices, such as therapeutic foods that naturally detox your body, sweat, movement, and stress management.
When your liver becomes overwhelmed with toxins, it will push them into your bloodstream where they can be stored in fat cells for many years. Moreover, your body’s nervous system needs a low-stress environment to properly burn fat.
You can be on a perfect diet and exercise plan, but if you are in a constant fight-or-flight mode, your body will hold onto fat, and also the toxins that are stored there.
This is an essential reason it is important to burn fat, not just for weight loss, but because fat metabolism is your body’s detox fuel!
A diligent cleanse at least 2 times a year is often necessary for this day and age, where many toxins are unavoidable.
Benefits of Detoxing
I hope I have helped explain now only HOW we detox, but WHY we detox. Again, make sure to check out my tips for how to detox your body every day.
By incorporating healthy daily lifestyle choices AND and a bi-annual thorough detox, you can experience the benefits of detoxing:
- Prevention of chronic diseases
- Increased energy and mental clarity
- Radiant skin
- Assistance in losing weight
- Improved quality of life
- New healthy habits and routines
- Vibrant longevity
Final Thoughts on What is Detoxing and Why Cleanses Are Important
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!