10 Natural Ways to Detox Your Body
We absorb more impurities than ever. Here’s how to use everything from green tea to steam showers to clear your system from debilitating toxins.
No matter how diligent you are about your wellness routine, your body is still a repository for dangerous toxins from the environment and everyday products. Worse, food and beverages, even some that are labeled “natural” or “healthy,” are full of preservatives, nitrates, antibiotics, and hormones.
Besides the obvious sources of contaminants (e.g., air pollution, hormones in factory farm foods, pesticides in produce, etc.), some of the most harmful toxins are hidden in packaging and other places you’d least suspect them.
At issue are what’s called “endocrine disruptors.” As defined by the American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC), endocrine disrupting chemicals are “environmental contaminants that interfere with hormonal systems, including reproduction.” These include non-household names like bisphenol A, phthalates, PBDE, and others. But these obscure-sounding chemicals are found in common products, such as plastic bottles, plastic wrapping, suntan lotions, and flame retardant chemicals that cover furniture, clothing, and other items.
Here’s the scary part: According to the AACC, these endocrine disruptors can cause neurobehavioral and reproductive diseases that cost Americans $340 billion per year in health care services and lost wages. These endocrine disruptors you are exposed to every day can lead to real harm.
No matter how careful you are, there’s just no escape from the bad stuff.
You may think you can avoid exposure to endocrine disruptors and other contaminants by eating well. Unfortunately, not only are foods often packaged in containers that have endocrine disruptors, even organic produce that is pesticide-free contain “natural toxins.” According to the World Health Organization (WHO), natural toxins are natural defense mechanisms developed by plants. Unfortunately, while they protect the plant, they can have adverse effects on humans and other mammals, including damage to immune and reproductive systems. Some natural toxins are carcinogens.
Then there’s the air itself. Dangerous man-made particulates in the atmosphere can cause serious health consequences, especially if you live in heavily populated areas. WHO estimates that 4.2 million people die worldwide every year from outdoor air pollution.
You’re not even safe from toxins in your own home. Cleaning supplies that keep your home spotless and free of bacteria can be abundant in dangerous particulates. According to the American Lung Association, many cleaning products are filled with volatile organic compounds (VOCs), even if the products are labeled “natural” or “organic.” These chemicals can cause respiratory illnesses and are particularly dangerous for those people suffering from asthma and pulmonary disease, according to research.
Listing this information isn’t meant to alarm you but to inform you. Despite your best efforts, you’re going to be exposed to toxins that can harm you and your family. It’s no wonder that so many people are turning to “detox” treatments to help rid their bodies of harmful chemicals.
Simply put, no health and wellness regimen is complete without a concerted effort to detox your body in some way. With that in mind, we’ve collected some of the most effective and accessible methods to rid your body of endocrine disruptors, air pollutants, VOCs, and other tiny little assassins that you encounter every day, all day.
10 NATURAL WAYS TO DETOX YOUR BODY
Past civilizations had their own detoxification systems, including bloodletting and leeches, so we’ve come a long way in discovering less invasive and healthy ways to cleanse your body (leeches have made a comeback in some medical circles, but that’s a different story).
The rewards are many. You won’t just be healthier if you detox, you’ll have more energy, boost your immune system, and improve your cognitive abilities. With that in mind, here are 10 ways to cleanse your body of harmful chemicals and other toxins.
- Drink green tea. It’s not a myth that green tea has powerful antioxidant effects. Antioxidants help the body counteract “free radicals,” dangerous compounds that result from toxic influences in the body. One study found that smokers who drank green tea every day for four months enjoyed a 31% reduction in DNA damaged by the toxins of smoking. To perform a thorough green tea detox, some experts suggest drinking 3-6 cups per day for several weeks.
- Try fasting. Before going backwards (eliminate built-up toxins), you have to put on the brakes. Fasting helps you do this. It’s kind of like a reset, just as you’d do with your computer that’s slowed down by a virus or other problem. Besides preventing harmful food chemicals from entering your body, fasting, along with appropriate hydration, helps clean out your vital organs, including your liver. Some research suggests that a fast (about 58 hours) can help increase antioxidants and help anti-aging effects. For purposes of a detox, keep your fast between one to three days.
- Exercise. Regular physical activity helps the mind and body in so many diverse ways that you should just do it, as the ad campaign says. Exercise helps make your lungs, heart, and physiological systems more efficient, meaning it will help your body’s natural defenses in combating dangerous toxins that have invaded your body.
- Drink more water. Like exercising, drinking plenty of water is an evergreen health booster in numerous ways. Water helps eliminate chemicals from your intestines and kidneys, which makes it an ideal complement to fasting. To get enough hydration, think of the 8-by-8 rule: eight glasses of 8 oz. of water per day.
- Consider dry brushing. Many natural product stores, both online and brick-and-mortar, sell dry brushes that are great for removing stubborn particulates from your skin. While not as thorough as a steam shower (see #10 below), dry brushing can be a great way to get a quick spot detox and get you ready for a deeper clean, such as steam therapy.
- Adopt an anti-inflammatory diet. There are many great diets that can help you avoid nitrates, hormones, and antibiotics from processed foods. Many of these limit meat and dairy products from factory farms. In general, choose organic (make sure it’s real organic food—check labels), and avoid sugar, alcohol, and foods that are loaded with impurities. According to Harvard Health, anti-inflammatory foods include tomatoes, olive oil, nuts, fatty fish (e.g., salmon, tuna), fruits, and green, leafy vegetables.
- Take probiotics and prebiotics. Not only should you put a priority on fiber and other foods that aid the digestive system, you should consider adding prebiotics and probiotics to your nutrition supplementation. These “good” bacteria deliver numerous benefits to gut function, a key aspect of boosting the immune system. One study from the Canadian Journal of Microbiology found that probiotics can bind to heavy metals like cadmium and lead that are found in food. This makes it easier for your body to expel them from your system.
- Get quality sleep. Yes, sleep itself can offer a kind of small-scale nightly detox. At issue is the glymphatic system, which, according to the National Institutes of Health, is a “macroscopic waste clearance system” that eliminates harmful metabolites from the nervous system. One study discovered that lack of quality sleep can impair the glymphatic system. Considering all the health benefits provided by 7-9 hours of sleep per night, it’s a good idea to prioritize sleep in your detox lifestyle.
- Supplement with milk thistle. Liver toxicity is one of the most serious results of damage from contaminants. That’s why detoxification treatments that target the liver are important. A herb called milk thistle, available over-the-counter, has shown liver detox effects in research, including one study that discovered milk thistle’s ability to help protect against liver damage caused by medications, alcohol, and other toxin-induced harm.
- Take a steam bath. This should be the capstone of every successful body detoxification process. Steam therapy helps provide cellular-deep elimination of stubborn toxins that accumulate in your body. Steam utilizes multiple mechanisms in helping to clear out your body of the bad stuff while leaving you refreshed and revived.
Let’s look at some of the ways steam therapy helps deliver a successful detox.
How Steam Complements—and Completes—Any Detox System
The most obvious elimination method of steam is through sweating. The sweating mechanism flushes out toxins from deep inside your epidermis, while also improving skin circulation. This is an essential end game in removing toxins from your body. Some popular detox treatments listed above may dislodge impurities but not completely remove them from your body. A steam bath will help complete the process and complement every other cleansing method.
One study found that a serious sweat response consistent with a steam bath may remove heavy metals, such as cadmium, lead, arsenic, and mercury. As the study states: “Sweating offers potential and deserves consideration, to assist with removal of toxic elements from the body.”
Besides dislodging and eliminating impurities through sweating, the hyperthermic effects of steam therapy can help remove the buildup of lactic acid from muscles after exertion. This is important if exercise is part of your wellness lifestyle (and it should be!). Steam heat can also help dilate small blood vessels, thus increasing circulation, an important part of transporting toxins out of your body. In fact, according to research, blood flow out of the heart “increases by two or more times after a 10-to-15-minute steam room exposure.”
Steam therapy can also help aid the sleeping process. Research has found that “manipulating body temperature prior to sleep onset may improve sleep quality in the elderly.” Hyperthermic effects from steam may also raise levels of endorphins and serotonin, neurochemicals that promote relaxation and will help you sleep deeper.
Steam rooms can also help enhance your respiratory system, which is important in expelling toxins from your body. Because steam is a natural expectorant, regular sessions in a steam room will help expel mucus and open up airways, which supports multiple health functions, including detoxing. Deep breathing detoxification is promoted by some alternative health experts, and steam can help you breathe deeper and more easily.
Again, making steam baths part of your regular wellness routine will help your overall detoxification program and help your system eliminate any impurities you encounter on a daily basis. It’s the perfect addition to any natural detox.
How You Can Bring Steam Therapy into Your Home
It’s easier than ever to make steam part of your lifestyle. Residential installations of steam rooms and steam showers are more affordable than ever. Technological advances developed by engineers at MrSteam have created a number of innovative techniques that bring state-of-the-art home steam systems that won’t bust your budget. You won’t have to do major reconstruction or clear out substantial space in your home to accommodate a MrSteam home steam system.