Should You Detox to Get Rid of Chemicals

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Detoxification is growing increasingly popular. Simply put, detox (short for detoxification) is the process of neutralizing or eliminating toxins from the body. It DOES NOT MEAN juice cleanse, fasting or starvation diet like we commonly think.

In the 21st century, your body accumulates more toxins in our modern world than its natural detoxification system (your liver, kidneys and lungs) can get rid of. Proponents say that chemicals from pesticides, chlorine, bleach, ammonia, VOC’s, and carbon monoxide build up over time and cause disease.

Dr. Tanya Edwards, director of the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Integrative Medicine, often starts patients out with a change in diet. Because Americans tend to have diets that lead to constipation, a change in diet can accomplish the same thing as many herbal detoxification products that are really just laxatives.

People ideally should have two bowel movements a day,

Many people go two or three days between eliminations. The normal pathway for toxins to move out of the body is through the liver, which converts harmful chemicals into water-soluble molecules that can be flushed out in the urine or feces. If there’s a delay in elimination, however, those toxins remain in your system longer.

Your environment has profound impact on your health. Everything from the quality of the air you breathe to what you put into, and onto your body makes a difference. Mercury alone can mimic or cause any illness currently known, or at least contribute to it. Detoxing and cleansing your body of toxins periodically can definitely help counteract some of this onslaught of damage.

But what is the best way to rid your system of toxins?

The Top Priorities for Detoxification

A three day think-tank with some of the top experts in autism detoxification came up with the following consensus and priority for achieving optimal health:

  • Healthy Living (ie; reducing chemicals in the household and in personal care products)

  • Avoiding Electromagnetic Fields (EMF)

  • Filtered Water

  • Healthy Food (ie; whole foods, organic-especially for the ‘Dirty Dozen’)

  • Move more

  • Healthy Emotions & Relationships (ie; positive)

  • Organ Support (ie: especially for liver, kidneys, stomach and intestines.  This can be done by taking herbs, supplements or eating specific whole foods that support these organs)

  • Supplements (ie: especially for liver, kidneys, stomach and intestines.)

  • Detox program (once or twice per year)

 As you can see detoxification is an important tool, but it is not at the top of the priority list — especially if you are sick. Unfortunately, a lot of people first consider detoxing when they’re not feeling well.

It’s important to realize that if you fail to follow an orderly process and begin detoxification processes prematurely, it can deteriorate your health even further, making you very sick.

Why is Your Diet so Important When it Comes to Detoxing?

In addition to avoiding or limiting your exposure to toxins, you need to focus on eating a healthy diet.

The Weston A. Price diet recommendations — which were written in 1920 and still, like all truths, hold true today — includes these timeless guidelines:

  • Eat foods that are natural, unprocessed, and organic (and contain no sugar except for the occasional bit of honey or maple syrup).

  • Eat foods that grow in your native environment. In other words, eat locally grown, seasonal foods (shop at your local Farmer’s Market).

  • Eat unpasteurized dairy products (such as raw milk) and fermented foods.

  • Eat at least one-third of your food raw.

  • Make sure you eat enough healthy fats, including those from animal sources like omega-3 fat, and reduce your intake of omega-6 from vegetable oils.

 Additionally, it’s important to understand that if you’re deficient in essential minerals, your body will actually use toxic heavy metals as “stand-ins” instead.

For example:

  • Lack of Calcium is replaced by lead, which deposits primarily in bone, and disrupts the formation of red blood cells. Lead contributes to poor bone health such as osteopenia and osteoporosis.

  • Lack of Zinc is replaced by cadmium, which tends to accumulate heavily in your kidneys. Cadmium overload is associated with peripheral neuropathy.

  • Lack of Magnesium is replaced by aluminum, which, among other things, induces neurochemical changes and has been identified as a contributing factor to developing Alzheimer’s.

  • Lack of Manganese is replaced by nickel, which is carcinogenic.

 So not only do you need to make sure you’re getting vital nutrients in order to avoid this toxic metal replacement process, you also need nutrients to aid your body’s natural detoxification process.

Toxins are naturally eliminated from your body through your liver. It converts many (but not all) of the harmful chemicals you ingest or absorb into water-soluble molecules that are flushed out in your urine or feces.

Remember, Your Skin Eliminates Toxins Too

One beneficial detox method is using an infra-red sauna. It heats your tissues several inches deep, which can enhance your natural metabolic processes. It also enhances circulation and helps oxygenate your tissues.

Your skin is another major organ of elimination, but many people do not sweat on a regular basis. This may be due to wearing synthetic or tight clothing that does not breathe. Sedentary living and sun damage also inactivate your skin. Repeated use of the sauna slowly restores skin elimination, which can help reduce your toxic load quite significantly. Steam baths, sweat lodges, vigorous exercise and hot tubs are other options, but not as effective.

Cautionary Notes:

 Please remember that you should avoid starting any detox regimen when you are sick.

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Detoxing happens when the amount of inflammatory foods and drinks put into our mouth reduces, and the liver has an opportunity to remove built-up toxins.  This is a critical component to reducing inflammation within our bodies.  All scientists in the 21st century tell you that 95% of chronic illness stems from inflammation within the body.  When we treat peripheral neuropathy patients, the first thing we recommend is a 21 day detox program.  This reduces systemic inflammation and clears the path to allow the nerves to heal.

As Dr. Mark Hyman states, “Detox is necessary when the metabolic waste from normal human metabolism, environmental pollution, and what has become known as the Standard American Diet (or SAD) has exceeded the threshold for what the body’s innate detoxification system can tolerate.”

While this may sound like a simple physiological process, detoxing affects both the body and mind.

Psychologically speaking, it takes the average person, one to two weeks to process alcohol, sugar and wheat, and have them completely removed from your system. (That is, of course, if you are not adding additional sugar, wheat and alcohol to the body during the detox process.)

Removing these foods and beverages from your diet for two weeks is a great way to cleanse your system. In addition, here are eight other things you can do to turn your food cleanse into a full body detox. 

 Drink water.

LOTS and LOTS of H2O! Water for the liver is like gas for your car. With small amounts of gas, your car can only run efficiently for a short period of time. Likewise, if you want your liver to perform at its highest potential in processing toxins, water is essential. For the average adult, 1 gallon of water (preferably filtered, if possible) will be most beneficial.

In the beginning, you will constantly be running to the restroom, even as much as hourly.  That’s because your body is so thrilled to be well hydrated, it is using the water to flush toxins and fat out of your system.  However, the good news is that this tapers off after 2 weeks.  You will then return to a normal routine of urinating every 2-3 hours, even while drinking 1 gallon of water.  If you are urinating less frequently than every 2-3 hours (for example- every 4-5 hours or even longer) this is a huge problem.  You are setting yourself up for bladder and kidney problems, as well as toxic overload.


As mentioned above, sweating and peeing are powerful methods to remove fat, and therefore stored toxins from the body. Two of the most beneficial methods of sweating, through the detox process, are through Bikram yoga (a form of hot yoga) and using infrared saunas. Both methods allow a person to maintain a healing environment in the body, unlike intense exercise which may allow you to sweat, but can actually create acute inflammation.  Now, there’s nothing wrong with intense exercise and many health benefits can be gained from it, but it does not accomplish aiding the detoxification pathways of the body.

Move your body.

Think restorative movement and exercise such as yoga, Pilates, walking and Rebounding. The goal here is to simply get the blood flowing, which helps to transport toxins out of the body. Rebounding is one of the quickest most effective activities you can do for a gentle exercise and research has shown it to be more effective than running on a treadmill and with far less impact to the joints and muscles.

Eat clean, whole foods.

Ideally, you are removing sugar, gluten (wheat) and alcohol from your diet. This will stop the majority of inflammation going into the body so that the liver can focus on processing the accumulated inflammation within your body. The most simple and effective foods to eat are those that do not come in a box, bag, can or jar. Buy organic whenever possible, but if this puts too much stress on your budget- just buy the ‘Dirty Dozen’ organic. (The ‘Dirty Dozen’ are the top 12 fruits and vegetables that contain the highest levels of pesticides…and no they can’t just be washed off.)


Most of us work on overdrive daily, permitting little time for rest and relaxation.  It is important to get at least 7-8 hours of quality sleep per night, especially while detoxing.  The liver processes the largest amount of inflammation when the it is in sleep mode, so allow yourself a few extra hours each day while you move through the detox process.

Dry brush.

Dry brushing increases the circulation in your body, encourages new cell renewal by helping to shed dead skin cells, improves vascular blood circulation, encourages lymphatic drainage and more. That’s a lot of good stuff for something as easy and simple as this self-care act. Use a brush with natural boar’s hair bristles.  Bass puts out a good one.

Think Positively!

Detoxing is not just about the body’s physical process. It’s also about your mind.  Be mindful of your thoughts and squelch out negativity.  You can make a choice to accept negative thoughts or turn them around into positive thinking.  Start by creating a list of all the things you are grateful (no matter how big or small).  You may be grateful because you got to speak to a friend, today or you may be grateful because you had a really good ‘Poop’.  Don’t laugh.  For those that pooping does not come easily – they are ready to do a happy dance, when they have a really good poop (I think you get my drift).  This habit of journaling gratitude in your life, for all things, no matter how small they may seem, will start you living every day with “An Attitude of Gratitude”. When we are thinking positively, there is less space for negative thoughts.



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