9 Ways To Detox Your Body—In a Safe, Healthy Way

It doesn't involve juice cleanses or restrictive diets.

The word "detox" may bring to mind images of juice cleanses, the master cleanse, water fast, or some other type of dietary regimen that promises to "flush toxins" out of your body or help you shuck off fat quickly.

However, most detox diet and juice fast claims aren't accurate. Your body doesn't need a special diet to detoxify itself—that comes naturally—and some regimens can even be dangerous. Any weight you lose will also probably come back unless you modify your lifestyle.

Your body has its own ways of removing toxins with or without your help—no special pills, juicers, or cayenne needed.

But, there are some ways you can help your body boost its natural detox system. Read on for some ways to help your body detox naturally.

Two young woman preparing healthy breakfast in modern kitchen


Why Should You Opt for Natural Detoxification?

Many popular detox plans can require some drastic lifestyle changes that aren't exactly great for your body or overall health.

"They often involve restrictive eating patterns and usually minimize calories," Jessica Cording, CDN, a dietitian and health coach, and author of "The Little Book of Game-Changers: 50 Healthy Habits For Managing Stress & Anxiety," told Health. "But the problem with these detoxes is, at best, they're not very effective and, at worst, they're dangerous."

The detoxes often focus on "short term detoxing" but not on reintroducing healthy foods or developing an eating pattern that helps you support overall health and well-being, added Cording.

You can fare a lot better with your health by allowing your body to do the detoxing on its own.

"The body has various ways of detoxing itself," Rudolph Bedford, MD, a gastroenterologist at Providence Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif., told Health. "That includes the liver, which works to break down various toxins and elements that you consume, allowing you to eliminate them; and the kidneys, which metabolize and excrete many things." Even your skin and lungs work to help your body get rid of toxins, Dr. Bedford pointed out.

How to Detox Naturally

There are quite a few ways your body can detoxify itself without a specific, depriving diet. Here are some ideas.

Eat Anti-Inflammatory Foods

Whole foods packed with nutrients are your best bet to keep your body clean internally. Fiber-rich foods like fruit, veggies, beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains, lean protein, and probiotics can aid gut and liver function, so any waste gets out of your system as soon as possible.

Try to cut out fried, sugary, processed foods and red meat to prevent chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.

Take It Easy With Alcohol

When you drink alcohol, it "jumps to the front of the metabolic pathway" so that your body can process it quickly and get it out of your body, Cording said. "By the time your body gets to the other things you've eaten, it's already been working hard and isn't functioning at its peak performance."

Your body processes alcohol mainly through your liver and a little through your breath.

"That's why you can smell alcohol on a person's breath—it's the ethanol leaving their lungs," Dr. Bedford said. 

Your body must work hard to process alcohol, which directly impacts the organs that naturally detoxify your body. That's why Dr. Bedford recommended keeping your drinking to a minimum.

Limit Sugar and Processed Foods

Processed foods, which are often loaded with sugar, also take some extra effort for your body to break down, said Cording.

"These foods tend not to be very high in nutrients that you need as well, making it a double whammy," Cording added. Sugar, meanwhile, can mess with your glycemic control—that is, your body's ability to stabilize your blood sugar. "That makes it hard for your body to metabolize things and detoxify," said Cording.

Furthermore, excess sugar and processed foods can lead to weight gain over time, and that has been linked to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, Dr. Bedford said.

"That makes it hard for your body to metabolize things and detoxify," Cording added.

Eat Foods Rich in Antioxidants

Antioxidants, those man-made or natural substances that may prevent or delay some types of cell damage, can do your whole body and overall health a favor. "They're beneficial for so many reasons," said Cording.

One of the biggest things that antioxidants do is offset free radical damage, caused by highly unstable molecules that are naturally formed when your body does a range of things.

Free radicals can also cause what's known as "oxidative stress," a process that can trigger cell damage, per the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Oxidative stress is linked to a range of diseases, including:

That's why Cording recommended loading up on antioxidant foods, which include a number of fruits and vegetables.

Consider Taking Prebiotics

Prebiotics are naturally occurring, non-digestible food components that help promote the growth of helpful bacteria in your gut, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

"Good gut health is crucial to overall health," said Dr. Bedford. To keep things moving—and detoxing—in your gut, Cording recommended eating enough fiber, drinking plenty of fluids, keeping yourself moving, and loading up on prebiotics.

You can get them naturally by having more foods like:

  • bananas
  • onions
  • garlic
  • leeks
  • asparagus
  • artichokes
  • beans
  • whole-grain foods.

Drink More of the Right Stuff

Sip on water. Hydrating will help your kidneys flush out toxins, said Dr. Bedford. Feel free to add lemon to your water for a hit of electrolytes. The citrus signals the liver to produce more enzymes, which keep digestion moving smoothly.

If you want something different than water, switch things up with tea. A small number of studies have indicated green tea may have some beneficial effects on risk factors for heart disease such as blood pressure and cholesterol.

Get Moving

According to a July 2022 American Ethnologist article, sweat is a way to "purify other bodily substances, such as blood, through the excretion of toxins and other flow-impending impurities." Additionally, sweating actually helps you detox by boosting circulation throughout the body.

What's more, exercise also has mental health benefits. Engaging in exercise is known to help you feel less anxious and depressed and keeps you healthier overall.

Care for Your Skin

Practice smart skincare by dry-brushing skin with a soft brush before your bath or shower. The gentle exfoliation can help your skin look and feel better if you do it correctly.

Some say adding Epsom salts to your bath can also help you cleanse inside and out since your skin will absorb its minerals like magnesium. There's little evidence for or against that claim. However, a hot Epsom salt bath can make you feel better and more relaxed.

Get Good Sleep

Logging adequate snooze time is key for keeping your health on track, as sufficient rest will help reduce stress and inflammation so your body can function at its best. Here's how much sleep you need by age:

  • Ages 18-60: At least seven hours
  • Ages 61-64: seven to nine hours
  • Age 65 and older: seven to eight hours

You can use sleep hygiene practices, such as those recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to help you get a good night's rest.

For example, you can create a sleep haven by keeping your bedroom cool, dark, quiet, and free of technology screens. Additionally, stick to a standard bedtime that allows you to get at least seven hours of sleep nightly.

A Quick Review

You may not be thrilled about your eating habits or might feel like you're in need of a reboot to get on a healthier path. However, detoxes and cleanses aren't necessary because your body detoxifies itself.

Still, you can help your body in its own natural processes by adjusting your diet, eliminating alcohol, and getting enough water, rest and exercise.

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