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

It doesn't involve juice cleanses or restrictive diets.

If you're thinking about detoxing, you probably have a specific reason in mind to do so. You may not be thrilled about your eating habits, or you might feel like you're in need of a reboot to get on a healthier path.

However, if you associate a "detox" with a 7-day juice fast, it's time to change your notion of a cleanse. While detox programs and plans have become hugely popular, detoxing doesn't require you to make extreme diet choices. Here's more about natural, safe ways to detox.

Why Should You Opt for Natural Detoxification?

When it comes to detox plans, they can require some pretty 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 much about how to reintroduce healthy foods or to develop an eating pattern that helps you support overall health and well-being all the time," Cording added. However, 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 you having to go on a specific, depriving diet.

Eat Anti-Inflammatory Foods

Whole foods packed with nutrients are your best bet when it comes to keeping your body clean internally. Fiber-rich foods like fruit, veggies, and beans, as well as nuts, seeds, whole grains, lean protein, and probiotics can aid gut and liver function so any unwanted buildup gets out of your system as soon as possible. Try to cut out fried, sugary, and processed foods along with red meat for even better flat-belly results.

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 and expels alcohol through your liver and even your lungs. "That's why you can spell alcohol on a person's breath—it's the ethanol leaving their lungs," Dr. Bedford said. Because your body has to work so hard to process alcohol in your body and because it directly impacts the organs that naturally detoxify your body, Dr. Bedford recommended keeping your drinking to a minimum.

Limit How Much Sugar and Processed Foods You Eat

Processed foods, which are often loaded with sugar, also take some extra effort for your body to break down, Cording said. "These foods tend to not 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," Cording said.

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 pointed out.

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," Cording said. One of the biggest things that antioxidants do is to 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 cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and eye diseases. 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," Dr. Bedford said. 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, and whole-grain foods.

Drink More of the Right Stuff

Sip on water: Hydrating will help your kidneys flush out toxins, Dr. Bedford said. 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. Green tea has been shown to protect against heart disease and cancer, while milk thistle may boost liver function.

Get Moving

According to a July 2022 American Ethnologist article, sweat is seen as 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. Thus, you'll want to make some time to get active on a routine basis. What's more, exercise adds in the benefits of mental and emotional detoxification: Engaging in exercise is known to help you feel less stressed, happier, and more energized.

Treat Your Skin Right

Practice smart skincare by dry-brushing skin with a soft brush before your bath or shower. The gentle exfoliation boosts circulation and promotes new cell growth too. Adding Epsom salt to your bath can also help you cleanse inside and out since your skin will absorb its minerals like magnesium, which can get things moving in the colon.

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. You can use sleep hygiene practices, such as those recommended by the CDC, to help you get a good night's rest. 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.

Overall, it is possible to detox when you think of it as more of a long-term approach to a healthier lifestyle versus a quick fix—and that can be as easy as eating foods that help filter gunk out of your gut and drinking enough to keep digestion in check so it releases unwanted leftovers from your system.

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