Could you benefit from a little internal cleanup? Here’s how to tell if you have an overload of chemicals in your body, along with the best ways to detoxify your body naturally.
Your body is an impressive detox machine. Minutes after any type of toxin makes its way past your skin or mouth, an awe-inspiring process of filtering and breaking down occurs in order to shuttle it out of your body safely. That’s great news, right? Your body has it handled.
Unfortunately, considering there’s an average of 200 industrial chemicals found in newborns’ umbilical cords before they’re even born, it’s safe to say that by the time you’re an adult, your body may be flooded with more toxins than it can handle. (1)
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But before you despair that you’ll never be able to keep up with the overload of toxins you take in every day, know that there are several natural ways you can help your body become a more powerful detoxifier. Best of all, it’s simple to start implementing them daily!
Detoxing: How It Works
Before we look at how to detox, it helps to know how the process works.
Several organs play a central role in the detox process, including the liver, which acts as a giant filter and metabolizer that grabs toxins from your blood and breaks them down. The liver is complemented by the kidneys (another filtration system); the lymphatic system, which removes and filters fluids from your tissues and digestive system; the gut, which breaks down and eliminates waste; and even the skin and lungs, which expel toxins through your pores and breath.
All of these organs work together holistically to encourage toxin removal. When there are too many toxins present and your organs can’t filter them all out, damage ensues. This is when you might experience symptoms like those below.
Signs You Need to Detox
If you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms for an extended period of time for no particular reason, chances are you’d benefit from detoxing:
- Unexplained fatigue
- Irritated, dull skin
- Puffy eyes
- Bloating, constipation
- Foggy memory, confusion
- Hair loss
3 Ways to Detox Your Body Naturally
So how can you jump-start that cleaning process? There are several Paleo foods that help amp up your body’s detoxification process, as well as lifestyle changes you can make. Be sure to check out our detox-friendly recipes at the bottom!
1. Foods That Support Your Detox Organs
The foods you eat (and don’t eat) are one of the most important aspects when it comes to detoxing. Many foods can help support and encourage your body’s detox system to filter and flush various toxins – from heavy metals to pesticides – from your tissues and cells. Below are some of the best foods to eat on a daily basis for a natural detox.
Dandelion Root and Greens
Dandelion has been used for centuries in ancient medicine systems as a liver detoxifier. One study showed that dandelion extract was able to protect liver cells from damage caused by alcohol toxicity. (2) Many of these benefits stem from the potent antioxidants in dandelion, which fight free radical damage caused by toxins.
Lemons contain citric acid, which has been shown to help the kidneys filter toxins and prevent and possibly even treat kidney stones. (3) In addition, citric acid has also been found to help protect liver cells from damage, which ultimately keeps it functioning more efficiently. (4)
Fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, and non-dairy yogurts like almond and coconut yogurt contain probiotics (good bacteria) that help keep your digestion running at peak form, which encourages proper elimination of toxins. Studies have also shown that probiotics can bind to heavy metals like cadmium and lead in our bodies. (5)
Foods like eggs, cruciferous veggies (broccoli, kale, and cabbage) and greens like kale contain sulphur, one of the most abundant minerals in our bodies that also plays a crucial role in detoxification. Sulphur, a component of glutathione, a potent antioxidant that supports the detox pathway through the liver, has also been shown to fight inflammation and DNA damage from environmental toxins. (6)
Apple Cider Vinegar
While there are no direct studies of vinegar when it comes to detoxification, it has been praised for over 2,000 years for its ability to help improve gut issues, reduce inflammation, and even heal wounds. Due to its naturally-occurring acids and enzymes, it could certainly help improve your digestion, break down waste, and eliminate toxins more efficiently. (7)
Chlorella is a nutrient-dense algae that is especially great at tackling heavy metal toxins, such as mercury or lead. It’s often referred to as nature’s “chelator,” which simply means that, like probiotics, it binds to and removes heavy metals from your system. (8)
Curcumin, a powerful antioxidant found in turmeric, can help detox metals from the body. One study showed curcumin supplementation was able to decrease the amount of mercury in the livers and kidneys of participants, as well as help protect both organs from damage. (9)
Of course, many, many fruits and veggies have abundant nutrients that help keep your digestion running smoothly while also fighting free radicals caused by inflammation that may result from toxin overload. So don’t limit yourself on your produce consumption! The more varied, the better.
2. Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is a way of eating that involves alternating between fasting and eating periods throughout your day. The most popular way of doing it, also called the “16/8” method, involves fasting for 16 hours, then eating only during an 8-hour window.
This could look like:
- Eating breakfast at 11 a.m. or 12 p.m.
- Eating your last meal before 8 p.m. (maybe with a small meal or snack in-between breakfast and dinner).
- Fasting until noon the next day.
The reason this type of fasting is great for detoxification is that it activates a process in your body called autophagy. In simple terms, autophagy thoroughly clears out any type of debris (aka toxins and waste) from your body – even down to a cellular level. (10) It essentially amps up your regular detoxification system and gives your body a chance to clean house on its own.
3. Limit Household Toxins
Believe it or not, your home and the products you use inside it (both beauty products and household cleaning products) can be one of your biggest sources of toxin exposure. Studies have shown that most commercial household products contain hazardous chemicals like formaldehyde, lead, and ammonia, which are classified as cancerous and cause a host of health issues. (11)
To limit your exposure to these, focus on replacing soaps, countertop cleaners, dish soaps, shampoos and conditioners, perfumes, and air fresheners with natural options. You can find these at your local health food store, or even make your own DIY cleaning products.
Recipes to Help You Detoxify
Now that we’ve covered all the foods that help you detox, it’s time to combine them in ways that make them so delicious that you’re looking forward to your daily toxin removal.
DIY Easy Detox Recipes
Below are two easy detox drink recipes you can whip up daily to help your system flush toxins, followed by several step-by-step recipes featuring some of those superstar detox foods.
Apple Cider Vinegar, Mint + Lemon Water
- One 8 ounce glass of filtered water
- Juice of 1 small lemon
- 1 T apple cider vinegar with the “mother”
- 2 drops food-grade peppermint essential oil
- Combine all ingredients and stir well.
- Drink on an empty stomach first thing in the morning.
*Option: Make this drink ahead of time and infuse overnight with 5-6 mint leaves if you don’t want to use the essential oil.
Chlorella Green Smoothie
- 1 frozen banana
- 1/2 cup cucumber
- 1 cup spinach
- Small sprig of cilantro (1 stem – not the whole bunch!)
- 1 t chlorella powder
- 3/4 cup almond or coconut milk
- Optional: Dash or stevia or 1 t raw honey
- Blend all ingredients together and enjoy as a breakfast or lunch.
Detox Recipe Round-Up
- Frothy Vanilla Turmeric Orange Juice
- Decaf Dandelion-Cacao Latte
- Easy, Healthy Sauerkraut Recipe
- Hearty Cranberry Honey Broccoli Salad
- Turmeric Elixir with Apple Cider Vinegar + Honey