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How to Boost Your Body’s Detoxification Process Safely

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An image of a female's body with detoxifying fruitsThere has been a lot of talk about detoxification in the health sphere lately and for good reason. This process can be a good way to clear toxins out of your body and improve overall health. With all the toxins we now take in because of the modern lifestyle and environment, this can be key to good health and resolving symptoms.

However, doing a detox diet isn’t as simple as some people seem to think. In fact, if you detox incorrectly, it could cause additional health problems because the sudden release of toxins is too much for your body to remove. This article covers ways to detox safely and in a way that improves rather than harms your health.

What is Detoxification?

Certain conditions and disorders are caused by the accumulation of toxins in the body. These toxins can build up in the body because of your environment, diet, lifestyle, or stress. Detoxification is the process of removing these toxins. In many alternative medicine models, eliminating toxic build-up and avoiding new toxins is essential for good health.

A good detox diet can help:

  • Improve blood circulation
  • Provide the body with essential nutrients
  • Promote elimination through the skin, kidneys, intestines, and liver
  • Promote liver health so it can eliminate more toxins
  • Allow the organs to rest

Obviously, the process of detoxification will not eliminate any condition you have. But it can be very helpful in the management of chronic conditions like:

  • Asthma
  • Diabetes
  • Anxiety
  • Allergies
  • Heart disease
  • Headaches
  • Depression
  • Chronic infections
  • Arthritis
  • Obesity
  • Digestive problems
  • High cholesterol or blood pressure

Many of these conditions can be caused or worsened by environmental factors, the buildup of toxic materials, or immune system imbalances. Doing a detox may help to reduce or eliminate some of these factors and reduce the symptoms they cause. In some people, it also helps to increase overall health and vitality and protect against future illnesses. This can be very beneficial for everyone, but especially for people with chronic conditions.

Why People Need to Detox

Detox diets have been used for thousands of years in different healing practices. However, they have become more popular recently. This is due to a number of factors including:

Lifestyle Factors

Many chronic conditions are strongly linked to lifestyle and environmental factors. In fact, the United States Center for Disease Control estimates that 80% of illnesses are linked to these factors. Many people try detox diets to try to erase the effects of an unhealthy lifestyle.

Environmental Problems

Environmental pollution is a serious problem these days. Heavy metal poisoning is becoming more common, and the intake of pesticides and other chemicals has increased sharply. These toxins can build up in your system, causing a variety of health problems and complaints. The buildup can also outstrip the body’s ability to detoxify itself, leading to the need to detox.

When Should you Detox?

An image of a pregnant woman sitting on the couch with a kid hugging her bellyYour body is different from everyone else’s, which is why you’re the only one who can decide when and if to do a detox. However, you should NOT detox if you:

  • Are pregnant or nursing
  • Have chronic, degenerative conditions like cancer
  • Are a child

You should also be very careful about choosing the right kind of detoxification program if you’ve been under stress for a long time. Stress can cause adrenal fatigue, and doing a harsh detox when you’re already fatigued can cause additional stress and symptoms which will make your condition worse.

Signs you need to detox might include:

  • Sluggish elimination
  • Skin problems
  • Infections
  • Ongoing fatigue
  • Bloating
  • Puffy eyes
  • Allergies
  • Mental confusion
  • Menstrual problems

Detoxification Myths

There’s a lot of information out there about detoxification. Some of it’s good and some of it’s not so good.

#1) Detoxing Removes Specific Toxins

Most detox diets promise to help eliminate toxins from your body. These toxins can include those from heavy metals, chemicals, and processed foods. However, there’s no evidence that detox diets eliminate specific toxins. Instead, they’re designed to boost your body’s natural detoxification processes and reduce the toxic load overall.

#2) Your Body Can't Detox on Its Own

Actually, a healthy body is great at detoxing. When your body and your lifestyle are healthy, your body can eliminate toxins without your help. It has its own detoxification process that involves the kidneys, skin, liver, lungs, and digestive system. So really, your body doesn’t usually need help with this.

However, being chronically unhealthy can lead your body’s processes to become unbalanced and dysfunctional. A detox diet can help with this by optimizing the natural processes and functions in your body.

#3) Detoxing Is Great for Weight Loss

Lots of people go on detox diets for weight loss. However, there’s no evidence that detoxing causes sustainable weight loss.

How to Detox

There are lots of different ways to detox your body. Some approaches demand strict detox diets and make drastic changes, while others make slow and gentle changes to your diet and your way of life to improve your body’s detoxification processes over time.

Which method you choose should depend on your overall health. If you’re already dealing with difficulty detoxifying, you have liver, kidney, or other issues, or your adrenal glands are fatigued, then detox diets may be too harsh and damaging. They dump additional toxins in your system that are hard to remove.

Instead, consider detoxing gently, naturally, and over time. These are long-term changes that have smaller effects but last longer. These are changes to your everyday lifestyle that will help you detox:

Avoid Alcohol

Alcohol is metabolized in your liver, creating a cancer-causing chemical known as acetaldehyde. Excessive drinking can also cause inflammation, scarring, and a build-up of fat inside your liver, further impeding its function. The liver is pivotal to your body’s detoxification processes, so avoiding alcohol will help protect this essential organ.

Drink More Water

An image of a woman holding up a glass of waterMen need around 125 ounces (3.7 liters) of water every day and women need around 91 ounces (2.7 liters). Unfortunately, most people don’t drink nearly this amount. Water is absolutely essential for every function in your body, including detoxification. So, if you want to detox, try increasing your water intake to improve:

  • Digestion
  • Nutrient absorption
  • Waste removal

Reduce or Eliminate Certain Foods

Sugary and processed foods provide empty calories and contribute to obesity and chronic diseases. They can also damage your liver and kidneys, impeding detoxification. So cutting down on the amount of sugary and processed foods that you eat will not only help you detox, but will also improve your health overall.

Sleep More

When you sleep, your body and brain work to expel waste products. If you aren’t sleeping enough, then there may not be time for these processes. As a result, these waste products may build up in your body and in your brain. This may be part of why poor sleep is linked to so many chronic conditions.

Eat More Fruits and Vegetables

Fruit and vegetables help your body detoxify. Fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants, which protect your body against free radicals. Free radicals are damaged molecules created by stress, digestion, and other processes in your body. The buildup of free radicals is linked to premature aging, liver disease, heart disease, and other disorders. Eating more fruits and vegetables will also help to fill nutritional gaps, ensuring that your body has everything it needs to function properly.

Do Gentle Exercise Regularly

Regular moderate or gentle exercise help reduce inflammation, allowing your body’s detoxification processes to function at their best. However, too much exercise or exercise that’s too intense requires additional cortisol when you have stress-related adrenal fatigue, so it's best to stick with gentle exercise for now.

Decrease Your Salt Intake

There’s a lot of salt in the modern American diet, and this can impede your detoxification processes. Salt causes fluid retention, which means you don’t urinate as much. This prevents the expulsion of toxins and can actually cause weight gain. You can also counteract salt by increasing your water intake or by eating more potassium-rich foods like bananas and spinach. Note that those with adrenal fatigue often need to avoid potassium and eat more salt due to fluid-balance issues, so make sure this is not your case before restricting salt.

Improve Your Gut Health

Your gut is pivotal to your body’s ability to detox itself as well as to other functions. Improving your gut health will help balance the good bacteria, improve nutrient absorption, and speed elimination. Some ways to do that are:

  • Look after your dental hygiene
  • Avoid antibiotics where possible
  • Consume more foods rich in prebiotics, such as oats, onions, tomatoes, and bananas
  • Focus on foods high in probiotics, like yogurt, sauerkraut, and kimchi
  • Eat foods that contain lots of fiber, like whole grains and organic fruits and vegetables

Boost Your Liver Function

Your liver is an absolutely essential part of your body’s detoxification process. Some ways to improve your liver health are:

  • Take herbs like milk thistle, burdock, or dandelion root
  • Drink green tea
  • Eat more vitamin C-rich foods


An image of women exercisingYour skin is an essential part of the detoxification processes in your body. Sweating releases toxins that are stored in the fat cells under the skin, so regular sweating can be a good way to facilitate detoxification. Some ways to sweat more are:

  • Saunas
  • Exercise
  • Therapeutic baths
  • Hot showers

The Low Down on Detox Diets

There are many detoxification diets available. These tend to be more intensive and are designed to be short-term. Most detox diets are very prescriptive, with a strict list of what you can and can’t eat. This can make them very difficult to follow. However, most only last around seven days.

If you decide to try one of these diets, make sure you talk to your doctor first. These diets can have dangerous side effects and aren't for everyone. Some of the most popular detox diets are:

  • Juice fasts
  • Sugar detoxes
  • Fruit and vegetable detoxes

Many different detox diets out there promise different effects. Detox diets can include:

  • Laxatives
  • Minerals
  • Different foods said to have specific effects
  • Teas
  • Diuretics

When you’re choosing a detox diet, remember that the main goal is to support your detoxification processes without causing additional stress or harm to your body. Several popular detox diets can help with that. However, you should never take any medication for detoxing without supervision and support from your doctor, so be cautious when choosing your diet.

This is especially important when you have adrenal fatigue if you’re thinking about doing one of these diets, because adrenal fatigue makes you more vulnerable to paradoxical and retox reactions that can set back your recovery.

Adrenal Fatigue and Detoxing

Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS) causes the kinds of symptoms that may make you think that a detox is a good idea. This condition is caused by adrenal gland fatigue due to chronic stress. The adrenal glands release cortisol in stressful situations to prepare you to fight or flee from danger.

This is a short-term solution to stress that has unfortunately become chronic in the modern world. Because of long-term stressors like relationships, work pressures, and environmental problems, stress has become chronic for many people. As a result, the adrenal glands must constantly produce high levels of cortisol. This can cause them to fatigue, leading to widespread hormone dysregulation and other problems in the body.

However, this isn’t the only problem when you have AFS. The adrenal glands are one part of the NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) stress response. This is made up of six circuits, which are each comprised of three organs and systems. When cortisol is released from the adrenal glands, these circuits prepare you to flee or fight, while reducing less urgent functions, like digestion and reproduction. When stress is short-term, this state only lasts a short time. Once the stressor has passed, cortisol levels drop, and the circuits return to their normal tasks and duties.

But when stress becomes chronic and cortisol levels remain high, the circuits of the NEM stress response remain in their stressed state. Over time, this causes malfunctions within the circuits and throughout the body.

Because the NEM encompasses so many circuits and parts of the body, the symptoms of AFS can be highly varied and widespread. Malfunctions in the Detoxification Circuit are one common issue with AFS, and it can make sudden detoxes very dangerous.

The Role of the Detoxification Circuit

An image of a woman on a chair eating a vegetable saladWhen the Detoxification Circuit is healthy, it eliminates toxins and helps your body resolve stress without you even being aware of it. But when this circuit starts to degrade in health and malfunction, the symptoms can be devastating.

The Detoxification Circuit is made up of the liver, the immune system, and the extracellular matrix (ECM) or the fluid-filled spaces outside of cells. These three components work together and separately to deactivate and expel metabolites. Metabolites are basically molecules that are created every time your body breaks down drugs, chemicals, or food. Thus, they are created naturally when you eat and are essential for reproduction, growth, and good health.

Normally, your Detoxification Circuit can deactivate these metabolites so they’re no longer harmful and then expel them from your body. But when this circuit is malfunctioning, this process can fail. The liver struggles to deactivate and expel metabolites, leading to a buildup. Metabolites are then released from the liver into the rest of your body and the ECM, causing congestion and a breakdown of the messaging between cells. And the toxic build-up in the ECM causes the immune system to become overactive, causing inflammation and more metabolite creation.

This situation can be very dangerous and leave you feeling very unwell. But that doesn’t mean that you should adopt a detox diet.

Detoxing with AFS

If you’re experiencing symptoms of AFS such as fatigue, headaches, menstrual problems, and sluggish elimination, then you may think you should detox. And done correctly, the right detox diet could reduce toxins and boost detoxification processes. However, done incorrectly, it can cause more problems.

Many of these diets tend to work very fast to flush toxins from your body. This might sound like a good thing, but if your body’s elimination processes speed up, it will encourage the sudden release of toxins from tissues where they have been stored and largely inactivated. This sudden rush of additional toxins floods your liver with toxins that need to be expelled. And if your liver is in poor health and malfunctioning, it may be unable to clear the toxins, leaving your body dealing with a flood of highly reactive toxins it can't remove.

This is why the key to a successful detox is to be slow and gentle. Talk to your doctor first and get their advice and guidance on detox diets, and then make changes gradually. This will allow your body to slowly adjust to the increased need for detoxification, removing toxins as they come and avoiding adding new ones.

Learn More:

» Read our complete long-read article on detoxification and Adrenal Fatigue
» Adrenal Fatigue FAQs
» Take our 3-minute test to see if you may have Adrenal Fatigue

The Takeaway

If you’re feeling unwell or have gone through a period of stress, then looking to improve your body’s detoxification can be a good way to speed your recovery. As long as it’s done slowly and gently, it will help rid your body of toxins and decrease your body’s workload.

For doing a safe and gentle detox, try making healthy lifestyle changes that support detoxification first rather than going on strict, harsh diets. Also, make sure to talk to your doctor before you try any detox diet to avoid further damage to your body

If you have questions about detoxing with AFS, you can reach our team at +1 (626) 571-1234 or click here for our Ask the Doctor system.

Dr. Lam’s Key Question

Detoxification is a natural process that helps rid your body of toxins. However, it can also be boosted by making changes to your diet and lifestyle that help reduce toxic intake and encourage an increase in the processes that remove toxins from your body.

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