How to Detox Your Body the Right Way (7 simple tips)

How to Detox Your Body

With the New Year right around the corner (seriously, how did that happen?), you may be wondering if now is the time to detox. After all, during the holiday season, we’re faced with so many temptations, it’s difficult to resist them all. And chances are, you overindulged a time or two. So, learning how to detox your body “the right way” seems like a good way to reset for a healthy year ahead.

Detox (short for detoxification) practices have been around for thousands of years, yet they seem to have really grown in popularity over the last decade or so. A detox typically involves changing your diet and possibly adding products to help clear out and remove toxins. In return, the claim is that you’ll not only improve digestive function but drop a few pounds and even improve overall health.

What many of these “detox diets” fail to mention is that the body naturally has the ability to detox every day. And you don’t necessarily need any special juices, severely restrictive diets (e.g., fasting), or harsh supplements to do so. In fact, the use of laxatives, diuretics, and harsh detoxing supplements, juices, and concoctions may do more harm than good. And most have only temporary effects, if any. In other words, they aren’t likely to lead to lasting benefits, including weight loss.

Some common complaints of typical detox diets include:

  • Decreased nutrient intake due to the restriction of food and calories
  • Interfering with digestion by removing fiber-rich plant-based foods, which slow digestion, increase nutrient absorption, and even remove toxins
  • Electrolyte imbalance from consuming too many fluids
  • Diarrhea, which can lead to dehydration, due to laxatives in the products
  • Decreasing energy levels and reducing exercise performance by removing needed fuel (i.e., carbohydrates)

Instead of following the latest fad cleanse or detox, you can help support the body’s natural ability to detox. Here are some simple tips for how to detox your body to rejuvenate and feel great!

How to Detox Your Body the Right Way

1. Go Dry This January (or limit alcohol)

Your liver helps metabolize virtually everything you consume—including 90% of the alcohol you drink. And if you’ve been celebrating a bit more this holiday season, your liver could likely use a nice break.

A little bit of alcohol consumption appears to be harmless and may even be beneficial. Still, excess alcohol can lead to a number of health problems. Remember, for the greatest health benefits, women should have no more than one drink per day, and men should limit to no more than two.

Enzymes in the liver metabolize alcohol to acetaldehyde, a chemical known for causing cancer. Fortunately, the liver sees that acetaldehyde as a toxin and further metabolizes it to acetate, which is a benign chemical that is simply eliminated by the body naturally.

Drinking excessively, however, has also been shown to lead to fat buildup and scarring in the liver as well as increased inflammation throughout the body. This prevents the liver from doing its job adequately. That is, it has a harder time filtering waste and toxins.

To help “reset your relationship with alcohol,” why not join millions of other people around the world for Dry January and give up booze for the first month of the year? Or, alternatively, limit the amount of alcohol you drink to help detox your body naturally. Just a few of the benefits include improving mood, focus, self-assurance, skin and hair health and appearance, and energy levels.

2. Cut Back on Sugar & Processed Foods

Again, there is tons of evidence that the overconsumption of high-sugar and ultra-processed foods leads to weight gain, obesity, and chronic diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and early death.

Similar to the overconsumption of alcohol, drinking sugar-rich beverages regularly (think sodas, sweet teas, and juice cocktails) has been shown to negatively affect liver function. This includes fatty liver and scarring.

As you begin the New Year, one of the best things you can do is clear out or “detox” the pantry and refrigerator, if you will. Remove the high-calorie, nutrient-sparse foods like cookies, candies, chips, crackers, and other highly processed junk foods. Then replace them with nutrient-rich whole foods, such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, and legumes.

If you’re worried about feeling deprived, don’t be. As Coach Cristina proves every week with her delicious new recipes, eating healthfully can still be full of flavor and variety with energy-boosting snacks and desserts, savory appetizers, and decadent-tasting dinners, all of which are packed with the nutrition you need to power through your day.

3. Eat More Antioxidant-Rich Foods

How to detox your body the right way isn’t just about what you take away but what you add. No, you don’t need to start juicing or drinking some thick, unappetizing concoction. Instead, simply eat more antioxidant-rich foods like berries and other fruits, vegetables such as leafy greens, nuts, and beans. Then add in plenty of spices such as turmeric, cinnamon, cilantro, and ginger for a punch of flavor and nutrition. Feel free to drink some of your antioxidants in the form of coffee, green tea, and even cocoa.

Start by stocking your pantry with these healthy staples, and then fill your fridge with your favorite veggies and fruits. (To make it super easy to make healthier choices, go ahead and prepare some veggies for easy snacking throughout the day.)

Why consume more antioxidants? Antioxidants are needed to help protect the cells throughout the body from damage from free radicals. However, when free radical levels get too high from consuming alcohol, eating a low-nutrient diet, or being exposed to environmental hazards such as pollution or cigarette smoke, it can lead to oxidative stress.

Oxidative stress damages cells throughout the body and can lead to heart disease, cancer, dementia, and other serious conditions.

4. Focus on Sleep Hygiene

Many people set their sights on doing more, exercising more, and accomplishing more for the New Year. Yet to set yourself up for greater success and give the body tools it needs to naturally detox and reset, one of the best things you can do is slow down and get a good night’s sleep, followed by another one and another one and another one…

Yep, quality sleep is key to weight loss, recharging the brain for creativity and focus, and removing waste byproducts from the brain and body that accumulate over a busy day.

For example, if the body is sleep-deprived, a waste product called beta-amyloid can build up. This protein has been associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s. Lack of quality sleep has also been linked to higher stress levels, anxiety, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and weight gain.

If you’ve been burning the candle at both ends, now’s a great time to integrate healthy sleep hygiene into your routine.

5. Get (and Stay) Hydrated

Sure, drinking water quenches your thirst. But it also helps regulate body temperature, aids in digestion, helps you absorb the nutrients you need, lubricates joints, and yes, helps detox your body by removing waste, including urea and carbon dioxide.

Aim to drink at least 90 ounces (for women) to 125 ounces (for men) of water (or 2.7 to 3.7 liters) every day in addition to eating water-rich fruits and vegetables, such as cucumbers, tomatoes, watermelon, lettuce, and apples.

6. Balance Your Gut

Good health, including supporting the body’s detoxification processes, starts in the gut. The cells in the intestine work to move toxic substances out of the body to be excreted.

While many people think first of probiotics for gut health, prebiotics are the first line of defense. These fibrous foods feed the healthy bacteria in the gut to help everything move along smoothly and produce important nutrients known as short-chain fatty acids.

Good prebiotic foods to include as part of a healthy diet include oats and oatmeal as well as bananas, artichokes, tomatoes, onions, and asparagus.

7. Get Moving!

Staying active and enjoying a regular exercise program is almost magical when it comes to living better. No matter what your weight, regular exercise helps increase life and health span as it decreases the risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, some cancers, and more.

Plus, a balanced exercise program helps you move more easily through the world by increasing strength, flexibility, and balance. At the very least, start by doing some form of movement every day and work up to doing 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise (e.g., brisk walking, bike riding, or dance) each week with an additional two weight-training or strength-building workouts per week.

Other Tips to Help Detox Your Body

While there’s little evidence that detox teas, fasts, greens, powders, diets, etc. can help your body cleanse, there are some other small changes you can make to support your body’s natural detox processes, such as:

  • Eating smaller portions mindfully, which can help prevent bloating and making your digestive system work overtime.
  • Supporting glutathione levels in the body by eating sulfur-rich foods, such as allium vegetables, including garlic, shallots, and onion; cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, and cauliflower; and eggs.
  • Eating super greens, such as chlorella, spirulina, and cilantro, which may help eliminate toxins, such as phthalates, heavy metals, and pesticides.
  • Decreasing the load of toxins on the body by using natural cleaning products instead of harsh chemical cleaners and choosing more natural body care products such as soaps, shampoos, deodorants, and lotions.
  • Decreasing stress levels to help support your body’s balance.
  • Improving circulation with gentle exfoliation before or during a bath or shower once or twice a week.
  • Improving indoor air quality by avoiding products that contain VOC (volatile organic compounds), such as air fresheners; keeping rooms well ventilated, and dusting regularly.

Your body has a highly effective natural detoxification system of its own, made up of the liver, kidneys, skin, digestive system, and more. So, most people don’t need to go on any special detox diet, cleanse, or fast.

You can, however, make simple lifestyle choices to support your body’s own ability to detox. This includes eating a nutrient-rich diet filled with vegetables and fruits, getting your sweat on with regular exercise, and giving your body time to relax and recharge to reset.