How does the body detox?
Detox is a popular phrase bandied around particularly at the start of a new year, as it often follows a period of excess (like Christmas and New Year´s Eve). A detox is nothing fancy or new and you do not need to spend lots of money on fancy supplements to do it, despite what the advertisers might have you thinking. I like to think of “detox” as cleansing your body, on the inside. Our body is designed with many processes that work together, almost every moment of every day, all year round, to cleanse the blood, cells, organs, indeed the entire body, of toxins, waste products and anything that it does not need to use for proper functioning of the body. In this article we consider the question: how does the body detox? We give you tips on what to do at home to use this information to help make decisions about what to eat (or not to eat) and what to do, to get your body in optimum health.
What do I need to do for a detox?
For a good detox, you need to do four main things to support your body:
- Stop or dramatically reduce the amount of toxins going into your body, by eating “clean” foods or juices.
- Supply your body with lots of good nutrition – eat healthily.
- Get sufficient rest (the body can heal and build better when it is rested and un-stressed)
- Drink plenty of water, to help the body to excrete, flush out, the toxins.
As you read on through this article, you will understand why all of these elements are really important for a good detox.
The role of the liver in detox
The liver is a part of your digestive system and is a vitally important organ in creating and maintaining your overall health. When we are talking about detox, the liver acts like a filter to remove toxins. Toxins come into our body through what we eat, drink, breathe and come into contact with through our skin. The liver removes toxins like chemicals, air pollutants, alcohol, pesticides, drugs (prescription and non-prescription) and cigarette smoke, by turning them into products that can be excreted from the body in our urine. The liver also has other roles. One role is to ensure we can use the nutrients that come into our body. So, nutrients from the food that we eat are carried in our bloodstream first to our liver, before going to the rest of our body. The liver also plays an important role in the regulation of hormones. An accumulation of toxins makes the liver work harder and harder. Over time this can lead to health problems. So, it makes sense that stopping or reducing the amount of toxins going in will help the liver to do its natural job of cleansing.
The role of the lymphatic system in detox
The lymphatic system also plays a vital role in cleansing your body. This system runs throughout your whole body and consists of ducts, lymph nodes, spleen and tonsils, all of which work together to cleanse your body of waste products and toxins. The tissues in this amazing system produce, transport and store white blood cells, so the lymphatic system also plays an important role in regulating the immune system. The stuff that flows through this system is called lymph. Lymph is approximately 95% water. It needs to flow freely for the body to be in good health. Think of it like a water or drainage pipe – if it gets clogged then wastes or toxins start to build up. Stress and poor digestion are two big causes of problems for the lymphatic system, leading to imbalance, reducing efficiency, clogging and stagnation.
Breathing and muscle contraction keeps the system moving at a base level. Massage is a wonderful way to support your lymphatic system and an added bonus is it helps to relax your whole body. Good activities to give your lymphatic system a boost include walking, rebounding (jumping on mini trampolines) and dancing. Keeping hydrated also supports your lymph to do its natural job. So does avoiding things that dehydrate your body – caffeine, alcohol – or things that make your metabolic system work harder (like processed sugary foods or energy drinks). You might also consider wearing loose clothing more often, particularly during sleep, as tight clothing can cause restrictions to lymph flow.
If you want to give rebounding a try, we offer it at the retreat. You can purchase a mini trampoline and try it at home – for ideas, read our article: top rebounding tips to cleanse your lymphatic system.
The role of other organs: skin, kidneys and lungs
Other organs and systems also play a role in detox. The skin is the largest organ in our body. It helps to stop bad things entering into our body. At the same time, it also helps to get rid of wastes and toxins through perspiration.
Sometimes the kidneys are referred to as the filtration system of the body – they can remove wastes, toxins and excess water from the blood and secrete it as urine. The kidneys really need water to be able to do this job well, so it is important to drink sufficient water, regularly throughout the day, particularly during times of detox. Keeping salt intake to a minimum supports your kidney function, as well as helping to keep your blood pressure normal.
Lungs are also involved in cleansing – as you exhale you let go of waste in your breath, which removes carbon dioxide from your body. (Too much carbon dioxide is toxic for your body).
Health benefits of a regular detox
At the retreat the environment is designed to support you if you want to detox, to cleanse body, mind and spirit. We encourage you to sleep and rest. We provide healthy plant-based food and freshly made juices that deliver lots of vitamins and minerals to support your body. At the same time, we have removed things that cause your body stress or to work harder. This includes items like alcohol, caffeine, and even the pressure to do everything. We encourage you to reduce or cut out smoking (or vaping). There are also lots of different activities to stimulate the cleansing process, like walks, yoga and rebounding. Yoga helps to reduce stress and can also be an important part of the detox process. Read our associated article: yoga asanas to support your detox.
Coming on a retreat once or twice a year gives your body the chance to re-set.
A note about water fasting
Occasionally guests ask us about the benefits or drawbacks of water fasting. For us here at La Crisalida, we suggest that it is better for your body to drink freshly made vegetable and fruit juices, as this gives the body nutrients, rather than only water. The nutrients in the juices are used by the body to heal and re-balance. They give your body more support than water alone does. Water is an important part of detox, so you absolutely need to drink water.
Read more about detox
If you are interested in learning more about detox, you might like to read one of the many articles that I have written over the years, which are also published on our health and wellbeing blog, including:
- Detoxing for everyday life
- Say no to caffeine: Natural ways to boost energy
- How our cells breathe – oxygenate your body
- DIY detox – top 5 foods to include
- Health effects of alcohol – and what to do instead
- Cleanse your body – get rid of cellulite
- Natural relief from detox symptoms
- Natural remedies for curing headaches
Book a detox and weight loss retreat
To give your body time and support to detox, cleanse and re-balance, you might like to consider booking a detox and weight loss retreat, here at La Crisalida health and wellbeing Retreats. Get your year off to a healthy start.
About the author
- Lisa is one of the founders of La Crisalida Retreats. She is an Epidemiologist, therapeutic hatha and yin yoga teacher and also teaches mindfulness meditation. Lisa has studied NLP and hypnosis, as well as nutrition (she designs the menus).