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Detox Guide: Answers & Solutions
Want to cleanse your body of toxins from the inside out and feel cleaner, lighter and healthier? Get all your detoxification questions answered in this guide, from why you should detox to which body detox or natural body cleanse program is best for you. Plus, find out the top detox tools, foods, supplements, exercises, FAQs, video clips and more.
Detox 101: The Basics
What is detox?
Detox is a process of neutralizing and eliminating environmental and dietary toxins from the body. Toxins can potentially damage body tissue, and a detox stimulates the liver to clean the blood and the body. A detox can help the body’s natural cleansing process in five main ways by:
1. Resting the organs by fasting
2. Stimulating the liver to eliminate body toxins
3. Promoting elimination through the intestines, kidneys and skin
4. Improving the circulation of the blood
5. Refueling the body with healthy nutrients
Eliminating toxins from the body through detox is good for both your inner and outer health. Detoxing promotes healthy digestion and skin and can arguably benefit the entire body. “A detox or cleanse will make you feel cleaner, clearer and lighter,” says Isabel Clark, R.H.N., founder of Clark Wellness in Washington, D.C. It can also jump-start a weight-loss program, help you transition between seasons, regulate digestion and help you identify food allergies or trigger points.
Which detox program is best for you?
There are many different types of detox programs. When deciding, take into consideration the length of time that you can dedicate to detoxing, how experienced you are with a body cleanse, and your general health, energy level and caloric need. A detox can be as short as a day and consist of just water, or as long as a week and include raw fruits and veggies. Select your detox carefully, and remember to check with your physician before starting any new diet, especially if you have any health conditions.
How to Maintain the Detox Benefits
1. Eat healthy, whole foods.
The more organic and fewer processed foods you eat, the better off you'll be. Avoid toxic foods like hydrogenated or trans fats and high-fructose corn syrup. (Check out this list of the top 10 food additives to avoid.) Make sure to eat plenty of fiber, including brown rice and organically grown fresh fruits and vegetables. And eat detoxifying foods as a regular part of your diet, such as beets, radishes, artichokes, cabbage, broccoli, spirulina, chlorella and seaweed.
2. Continue to take herbs and supplements.
Herbs like dandelion root, burdock and milk thistle help the liver detox, cleansing and protecting the organ. Also take vitamin C daily to help the body produce glutathione, a liver compound that drives away toxins.
3. Exercise daily.
You can’t go wrong with exercise. Movement that makes you sweat releases toxins, creates feel-good endorphins and stimulates your body’s natural trash-disposal system. Try yoga, qigong, Pilates, running, walking, biking — anything you enjoy that makes you sweat!
4. Drink plenty of water.
Keep drinking lots of water — at least 2 quarts daily — to continue flushing toxins from your system.
5. Eliminate stress.
Stress triggers your body to release stress hormones into your system, which creates toxins and slows down detoxification enzymes in the liver. Yoga, meditation, exercise, adequate sleep and deep breathing are simple and effective ways to calm down and stay stress-free.
6. Think positively.
How you think can have a huge impact on your immune system, according to James Rouse, N.D. When you think positively, your immune system is stronger and more effective at fighting viruses, bacteria and toxins. Forming new healthy habits takes time, so focus on what you've already accomplished. This will motivate you to continue eating healthier, exercising more and taking better care of yourself.
Exercise & Movement for Detox
Exercise “is one of the best ways to encourage lymphatic flow,” says health and nutrition author Brenda Watson. “The lymph system is part of our immune system and also helps rid the body of foreign substances and bacteria.”
Exercise helps to stimulate all three forms of elimination of waste in the circulatory, digestive and lymph systems.
Activate your movement
Dr. David Katz, associate professor at Yale University School of Public Health, suggests both cardio and strength training to contribute to your cardiovascular and lymphatic circulatory systems.
Listen to your body
Make sure you are providing your body with enough nourishment and caloric balance when you remain active during your detox. Gentle exercises like yoga, qigong and walking are great during a detox because they are not too strenuous on the body but are still powerful for flushing out toxins.
Sweat away stress
Detoxing can also be used to relieve abundant stress hormones in your body, which create toxins and slow down detoxification enzymes in the liver. Mind-body exercises as well as meditative practices are great ways to embrace a cleansing process by shifting physical and mental reactions to the inevitable stress of life.
Experience the ease of movement
Circulation machines and massages are a great way to stimulate the lymph system and rid the body of toxins.
Stimulate your vessels
Circulation machines provide the body with simple movement without applying any stress on the spine or other body parts. Daily use can help aid in a detoxification process by improving your circulation and movement in your lymphatic system.
By applying pressure to the body, massage helps move fluid in the body by stimulating the blood and lymph vessels.
“Studies suggest that massage may enhance circulation in a localized manner to alleviate pain, reduce inflammation and perhaps accelerate healing,” says Katz. “It’s similar to the way that applying pressure to a tube squeezes out the toothpaste.”
Feel your detox from the inside-out
It’s also important to get ample rest when you detox so you can help your body focus on cleansing. Deep breathing can help to calm the mind as well as allow oxygen to circulate completely through your body.
Holistic nutritionalist Isabel Clark says it’s important to take time to engage in activities that feel cleansing and purifying. “Detoxing is a great time to stay home and do things like clean your closet,” she says.
Top Tools & DVDs for Detox
Although detoxing is purifying for the body, the process can leave you with low energy and feeling a little sluggish. Remember that it’s just the toxins making their way out of your body and you will feel much better soon. Be good to yourself and indulge in activities that are therapeutic for your body and your mind.
The Jadience Detox Kit blends ancient healing wisdom with modern science to help eliminate fat, revitalize the skin, alleviate insomnia and headaches and ease muscle pain. The kit includes both detox patches and supplements to help draw and flush out toxins and a luxurious detoxifying bath soak.
Detox Bath Soaks
Kick off your detox with a start-up! This Detox Start-Up Kit is a useful aid for getting the most out of your detox. The kit includes three powerful, all-natural purification baths to rid your body of harmful environmental pollutants and to help restore balance in your body.
Spoil yourself with a hot bath and a detoxifying soak like Jadience Detox Bath, an herbal cleansing solution that blends ancient healing wisdom with modern science. Jadience revitalizes the skin and helps eliminate fat.
While detoxing, recognize that the flow of your vital life force or energy is essential to maintaining good health and having your body in perfect balance. The D-Tox Foot Spa increases circulation, stimulates your metabolism and aids in body cleansing, leaving you feeling renewed and with more physical and mental energy.
Circulation is vital to detoxification. Our Healthy Circulation Machine uses the pattern of "gentle infinity" (perfect figure 8's) to stimulate circulation and energy flow while helping to release tension. Use it for 15 minutes a day to improve your circulation and enhance your lymphatic system's ability to detoxify.
Feel like you need a little detox direction, or looking for a low-impact, effective workout while cleansing? In the Ayurveda for Detox DVD, Dr. John Douillard explains how the ancient science of Ayurveda can provide a healthy routine and eating plan that will detoxify your body naturally. Try Dr. Douillard’s four-day cleanse and explore how good it feels to reset your system.
Qigong for Detox DVD with Francesco Garripoli and Daisy Lee is another DVD worth exploring. The instructors guide you through a gentle yet powerful combination of slow stretches and breathing exercises very similar to t’ai chi.
Foods & Supplements for Detox
Foods for detox
Eating for the season
Holistic nutritionist Isabel Clark says to focus on detoxing in the spring, summer and fall, when more fresh produce is available. “Winter is not generally a good time for detoxing because your body is working on rebuilding, rather than cleansing,” Clark says.
In the cold winter months, your body can use a higher-protein and higher-fat diet to store minerals, vitamins and nutrients. In this season, nature provides nuts, grains and ingredients for hot soups and stews.
Spring and summer are the best seasons to detox and shed the excess fats and proteins that we stored during the winter. Here is a complete spring detox shopping list.
During the harvest months, leafy greens and berries help clean blood and move lymph, as well as provide antioxidants to complete the cleansing process from spring and summer and get your body ready to prepare for the cooler months ahead.
Liquids for detox
Be happy to hydrate
No matter which detox program you choose, it’s important to keep yourself well-hydrated. Water naturally flushes toxins — at least 2 quarts are recommended daily. An ancient practice for many cultures includes a routine of drinking only water one day each week.
Drink your fruits and veggies
Smoothie and juice cleanses are also an option for releasing toxins. These can last anywhere from three to seven days and consist of drinking fresh fruit and vegetable juices and water. Recipes can also include milk (dairy or non-dairy), protein powder, ground flaxseed, wheat germ, vitamin C or other supplements.
Juice cleanses are best used for fast and deep cleansing. They are not generally recommended for people with high-caloric needs. It is highly recommended to talk to a doctor before beginning any sort of food fast.
Supplements for detox
Other popular detoxing programs include cleansing supplement packages, which often contain fiber, vitamins, herbs and minerals. Although there are some safe and effective supplement options, Clark says to beware of any detox diet that requires you to invest in pricey supplements.
“Cleansing is a natural body function. It doesn’t require a lot of expensive supplements to work,” Clark says.