While there are many detox and cleanse supplements and diet programs on the market, they lack scientific evidence to support their use and often do not have adequate testing for purity, potency, and safety. The best way to remove toxins from the body is to support your body’s inherent detox pathways.
Here our Registered Dietitian Nutritionists break down the science and give you their top tips on how to promote natural detoxification by optimizing your overall health to improve the functionality of all of the essential organs and pathways responsible for removing toxins from the body.
Your Body’s Natural Detox Pathways
The body, including all of the organs and metabolic pathways, work synergistically to keep harmful toxins out of the body. In particular, the real detox MVPs are the liver and kidneys. The liver naturally supports the body in metabolizing and removing toxins (not to mention storing vitamins, metabolizing food and aiding in immune function), while the kidneys constantly filter the blood, eliminating toxins and waste products through urine.
The skin and lungs are also detoxification organs that help to eliminate toxins and harmful metabolic byproducts, keeping our bodies in optimal homeostasis (or balance). Additionally, our digestive system acts as a detoxification and cleansing pathway by removing food waste and potential toxins. A healthy gut and regular bowel movements helps to support our immune system and digestive health, so your body can function optimally.
The bottom line is that the body knows how to detox and cleanse itself, so our job is to treat the body well to optimize its functionality and make it easier for all of our organs and systems to do their job.
Detoxing With Lifestyle And Diet Changes
The key to supporting your body’s natural detoxification are a healthy diet, daily movement, adequate hydration, and sleep, as well as limiting or avoiding alcohol (and other toxic substances like tobacco or illicit drugs). These diet and lifestyle elements promote overall health, and help to prevent chronic disease that can impair our detox organs and pathways. Here, we outline our top tips:
- Eat a balanced diet: Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, legumes, healthy fats, whole grains and lean proteins, helps to support your overall health and natural detox pathways. Many of these foods also contain fiber, which helps promote a healthy digestive system for waste elimination, as well as antioxidants, that help to reduce inflammation by neutralizing free-radicals. Limiting heavily processed foods with high amounts of added sugar and saturated fats also helps to reduce inflammation and promote overall health.
- Hydrate: Beyond supporting your overall vitality, making sure you are hydrating adequately is important to help support your kidneys’ elimination process. If you are dehydrated, your body will hold onto fluid, limiting your excretion of toxins through urine.
- Avoid or limit alcohol: Alcohol and its byproducts (the components it is broken down into) are considered toxins, and they must be metabolized and eliminated by the liver. Consuming excess alcohol can be taxing on your liver, impairing its functionality to metabolize all toxins. If you choose to drink alcohol we recommend doing so in moderation, by following the USDA guidelines of a maximum of 1 drink per day for women and 2 for men.
- Daily Movement: Moving your body daily, including walking and other forms of exercise, helps to increase circulation and promote bowel movement regularity, both of which support natural detoxification.
- Adequate sleep: Without adequate sleep, our body cannot function optimally. It is recommended that adults sleep 7-9 hours per night. (2)
Which Foods Naturally Support Detoxification?
Research on which foods enhance detoxification pathways remains limited, but plant foods like fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices may activate enzymes that promote antioxidant defense and detoxification in the body, in addition to other health benefits. (1)
Here are a some of our favorite detox foods:
- Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and cabbage
- Purple sweet potatoes
- Apiaceous vegetables like carrots, parsnips, celery, parsley, fennel
- Citrus fruits (lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruit)
- Alliums like garlic, onion, leeks, chives, scallions
- Flax and chia seed
- Green tea (and others including: black, rooibos, chamomile, and dandelion)
- Chicory root
The Takeaway on Detoxing Naturally
Research is limited on detox and cleanse products and diets. What’s more, supplements lack a great deal of regulation – meaning they may not be safe or effective. Luckily our organs’ job is just that – to detoxify. You can support your liver and kidneys, as well as your digestive system by adding more fruits, vegetables, herbs, whole grains, seeds and legumes to your plate. These whole foods deliver fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals – all the nutrients that support the body’s detoxification systems and your long-term health.
Have more questions about how to support natural detoxification? Work with a Culina Health Registered Dietitian Nutritionist to get personalized virtual nutrition care that is covered by insurance. Schedule a free intro call to get started!