There are 3 ways you can detox your body. One approach is to reduce your exposure to toxins, which is what this website is all about. You could also try one of the many detox programs available to help your body eliminate toxins. Another option is to support your body's ability to detox through diet and supplements.
You might be wondering which of these approaches are the most effective. Obviously, you know my favorite approach. But I wanted to give you some other options. So I went in search of scientific evidence on what other detox methods work.
Before we get into that, I want to give you a little info on what happens to the chemical toxins that enter your body every day. Remember, your body is a marvel of design, with many processes in place to protect you from toxins.
inhale, absorb and ingest toxins they are distributed throughout your body.
Your body’s detoxification machine, the liver, then starts the process of
breaking down these harmful substances by a complex series of chemical
reactions. Your kidneys, lungs, GI tract and skin also play a role in getting rid of toxins.
When functioning properly, your liver filters and removes toxins from the blood and changes (metabolizes) fat-soluble toxins into water-soluble forms that can be excreted from the body. In other words, the liver takes nasty things and turns them into a form you can get out of your body. That doesn’t mean that it’s a less-toxic form, but just a form that the body can get rid of. In fact, in some cases the new form is more toxic than the original toxin.
Detoxification by the liver is a two-step process. In the first step, the chemical make-up of the toxin is changed (it can become more or less toxic) using many different enzymes. Enzymes are proteins made by your body to start or speed up chemical reactions. If the toxin is changed to a form that easily dissolves in water, it is excreted by the kidneys. In the second step, fat-soluble (dissolve in fat) products made during the first step are further processed into new water-soluble substances. These substances are then excreted.
A. The amount and kinds of chemicals you’re exposed to everyday.
Your body wasn't designed to handle the amount and kinds of synthetic chemicals that your exposed to every day. Your liver can be overwhelmed and overworked by exposure to too many toxins. When this happens your body stores toxins, usually in body fat.
Also, some chemical toxins are hard to break down. These toxins are called persistent organic pollutants (POPs). They can take decades to break down so they accumulate in your body, usually your body fat. When we eat animals or vegetables contaminated with POPs we store them along with the POPs we are exposed to from other sources.
B. Your age.
It's a sad fact that the older you get the less efficient your body is at just about everything. And your body's detox system is no exception.
C. Your diet.
A poor diet, full of refined carbs and fatty foods, won't provide your liver, or the rest of your body with the nutrition it needs to function properly. A healthy, antioxidant rich diet will. (I'll cover foods and supplements that will support your detox system in Part II and III of this post.)
D. How healthy your liver is.
When your liver is stressed by disease, it impairs its ability to detox your body.
I'm sure it will come as no surprise that I believe decreasing your exposure to toxins is the most effective way to detox your body. It is a proactive approach to protecting your health. Reducing the volume of toxins that enter your body gives your liver a chance to detox your body.
But when it comes to this approach to how to detox your body, you have to think about it as a lifestyle choice - not a short-term fix. It's like making the commitment to exercise. It's most effective if you do it regularly. To find out how to start making these changes check out the article Shedding Your Toxic Product Habits.
And this approach works. For example, studies have found that if you eat organic produce, you have fewer pesticides floating around in your body. The same holds true if you avoid using toxic pesticides for pest control. Several studies have also shown that the level of BPA in your blood is dramatically reduced when you stop eating canned soups and veggies.
A second way to reduce the toxins in your body is with a detoxification program. These are short-term fixes that supposedly increase the elimination of toxins from your body. Now, do detox programs work and how do they work?
You've heard all the claims - Do this juice fast or colon cleanse (yeech) and eliminate the toxins in your body. Really?
Maybe you've wondered like I have, how does it work and what toxins are removed? Because there are lots of different kinds of toxins. Some break down easily and are removed from your body quickly, while others hang around for years. So how does drinking nothing but juice pull toxins out of your body?
To find out which detox programs actually help you remove toxins from your body, I did a lot of research and read a lot of studies. What follows are detox approaches that were proven to remove at least some toxins and approaches where there is no Current science behind the detox claims. This could change as more of these approaches are studied.
The idea here is that when you fast, your body burns fat for energy. This releases the toxins stored in that fat into your blood where it makes its way to your liver to be broken down and excreted.
Several studies have looked at the levels of toxins in humans before and after drastic weight loss. These studies found that as body fat decreases, the toxins in your body are redistributed. A small percentage (15%) is broken down and excreted from your body. However, some of the released toxins enter other body fat and some get circulated through your blood and end up in other organs.
The idea behind massage as a detox approach is that kneading your muscles will release their stored toxins into your blood so your liver can break them down for excretion.
While a good massage may make you feel relaxed, there are no studies that confirm it does anything to release toxins from your body.
The idea behind detox diets is that certain foods and combinations of foods will stimulate your body to release stored toxins.
According to a 2014 review of the scientific literature by Klein and Kiat "At present there is no compelling evidence to support the use of detox diets for weight management or toxin elimination."
The idea behind this program is that you will remove some encrusted material from your colon. This will reduce the absorption of future toxins.
While this sounds good in theory (if you get past the yuck factor), there is no consistent scientific evidence that this approach will release toxins from your body.
Sauna Therapy and Exercise
The idea behind this is that enhanced sweating and increased blood flow will release toxins in your body through your sweat.
So far studies have found that BPA, chlorinated pesticides, some phthalates, heavy metals like copper, zinc and lead PCBs and hexachlorobenzene (an agricultural fungicide) can be excreted through sweat.
**PFCs like PFOA and PFOS are not released in sweat.
Prebiotics and Probiotics
The idea behind pre and probiotics is that taking them will restore and support the bacteria in your intestines. This will help your body remove toxins through your GI tract.
Pre and probiotics can help the excretion of heavy metals like cadmium and lead.
Niacin is thought to help you detox by breaking down your body fat and in the process releasing the toxins that are stored in that fat.
To be most effective you need to include a way to help your body eliminate the toxins that are released. like sauna therapy and exercise.
The reccomended dose for body detox is 50-100mg once or twice a week followed by exercise or sauna therapy. For a safe way to add niacin as part of your body detox program read the article Niacin, Exercise, and Sauna—A Simple and Effective Detox Program.
So, besides reducing your exposure to toxins, there are a few ways to eliminate some toxins from your body. These include sauna therapy, exercise, niacin and taking prebiotics and probiotics. If your interested in trying sauna therapy, first consult your doctor and second, check out this article.
I also recommend Toxin, Toxout, an entertaining and informative book on getting toxins out of our bodies. The authors actually exposed themselves to many toxins to see which methods worked to remove them!
And even though there is no scientific evidence that any of the detox diets on the market actually work, there are foods and supplements you can add to your diet to support your bodies detox system. I cover these in Part II of How To Detox Your Body.