We all want to live in a world with clean air, nourishing food, clean water, and safe products. A world without toxins.
Like it or not, this is not the world we are living in. Our air is polluted. If you live in a city, I don’t have to introduce you to exhaust fumes. But even outside of the city, you may experience air pollution from cigarette smoke, cars, agriculture, or factories. Carbon monoxide, hydrogen chloride, dioxin, nitrogen oxides, cadmium, asbestos, benzene, and chromium are only a few examples of toxins in our air. Even indoors, you may breathe in mold mycotoxins, perfumes, allergens, or toxins from chemical-filled household products (1).
If you consume non-organic produce and packaged foods, you are exposing yourself to pesticides, herbicides, added hormones, artificial ingredients, food coloring, and additives. Your city tap water may expose your body to fluoride, chloride, lead, mercury, and other environmental toxins (1).
Plastic, especially bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates, may also be incredibly harmful. If you open your closet, chances are you will find a pile of synthetic clothing. Any conventional cleaning products and hygiene, body, beauty, and other personal care products are loaded with chemicals. Medications and even many supplements are filled with synthetic ingredients. Your amalgam mercury dental fillings may also lead to issues from toxin exposure (1).
The list goes on. Let’s face it. We don’t live in a natural environment, and we are exposed to toxins and toxic chemicals day in and day out.
But what’s the problem with toxins? Let’s talk about the problem with toxins and how to detoxify your body to improve symptoms of chronic toxin exposure.
Problems and Risks Related to Toxins
You probably associate the word ‘toxin’ with something bad. You are right. Toxins are substances that can harm your health. Some toxins may be dangerous, even in small amounts. Most environmental toxins in our air, water, food, and products, though, don’t lead to immediate harm.
You may drink a glass of tap water or walk outside breathing in exhaust fumes without collapsing or dying. However, if you are exposed to toxins on a daily basis, it can add up and lead to chronic health effects. Chronic exposure to environmental toxins may increase chronic inflammation, compromise your immune system, decrease your body’s ability to absorb nutrients, and cause a list of chronic symptoms and health issues.
According to a 2015 review published in Carcinogenesis, exposure to environmental toxins may cause inflammation and increase the risk of cancer (2). According to a 2012 review published in the Journal of Environmental and Public Health, toxins exposure may increase your risk of chronic health issues (3). They also found that detoxification may be a beneficial supportive therapy in reducing toxin-related health issues. Later in this article, you will learn how to detoxify your body to reduce the risk of symptoms of chronic toxin exposure.
Symptoms of Chronic Toxin Exposure
Chronic environmental toxin exposure may impact all areas of your body and health. It can impact any of your organs, including your gut, lungs, kidneys, liver, and skin. It may affect your brain function, digestive system, hormonal health, and mental health.
- Insomnia and other sleep issues
- Headaches or migraines
- Muscle and joint pain
- Abdominal pain, bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea, and other gut symptoms
- Trouble losing weight
- Unexpected and unexplained weight gain or weight loss
- Skin problems, including rashes, eczema, acne, hives, dry skin, or itching
- Congestion, runny nose, sneezing, coughing, and other respiratory issues
- Increased symptoms of allergies or symptoms of asthma
- Blood sugar fluctuations
- Thinning hair or hair loss
- Brittle hair
- Brain fog
- Trouble concentrating, learning, or remembering things, and other cognitive symptoms
- Mood swings
- Anxiety or depression, or mental health issues
- Nervous system impairment
- Increased symptoms of PMS or menstrual changes
- Thyroid and other hormonal issues
- Increased chemical sensitivity
How to Detoxify Your Body
Reducing your exposure to environmental toxins is an important step to protect yourself. Unfortunately, even if you have switched to natural and organic products and taken every other precaution, you will still be exposed to some chemicals and environmental toxins every day – unless, of course, you move completely off the grid, out in nature. Even then, there is a lifetime of toxic exposure and toxin build-up that may be causing some symptoms.
My point is, chances are, you can benefit from detoxifying your body. Most of us can.
Doesn’t My Body Know How to Detox Itself?
Fortunately, your body is a smart system of organs that help to detoxify your body from toxins and pathogens on a daily basis. Your two major detoxification organs, your kidneys and liver, work together with your digestive system, lymphatic system, lungs, and skin to remove toxins and pathogens from your body.
However, if you’ve been exposed to too many environmental toxins, it can be too much for your body. The human body was designed to fight natural problems, such as smoke from forest fires, an occasional bite of poisonous food, and pathogenic microorganisms. It may not be equipped to deal with all the modern world toxicity around us.
This is when detoxification practices come in. You can improve your detoxification systems, support the detoxification process and help your body to remove toxic chemicals and other toxins naturally.
Here is what I recommend to detoxify your body to improve symptoms of chronic toxin exposure:
How to Detoxify Your Kidneys
Your kidneys are a pair of bean-shaped organs. They help your body to filter your body and remove waste, chemicals, and toxins (10). Without healthy kidney function, your body cannot remove toxins properly, which can lead to poor energy, chronic symptoms, and health issues. Supporting kidney detoxification may help to increase your energy and overall health.
To detoxify your kidneys, I recommend that you, first and foremost, stay hydrated. You never want to be in a situation where you become thirsty on a regular basis. Drink fluids to prevent thirst, not satisfy it. Water-rich foods, meaning fruits and vegetables, are also included in this suggestion to hydrate.
I recommend you follow an anti-inflammatory, nutrient-dense diet. Remove refined sugar, refined oil, artificial ingredients, additives, and overly processed foods. Focus on greens, vegetables, herbs, spices, sprouts, fruits, nuts, seeds, grass-fed meat, pasture-raised poultry and eggs, and wild-caught fish. Add lots of kidney-supporting foods to allow proper kidney detoxification, including beets, carrots, cucumber, celery, broccoli, lemon, limes, onion, cilantro, parsley, milk thistle, and berries (11, 12, 13, 14). You may add these to your salads, side dishes, smoothies, or green juices.
How to Detoxify Your Liver
Your liver is your largest organ. It’s also one of your major detoxifying organs. It supports digestion, detoxification, protein synthesis, and other important health functions. Supporting your liver health is critical for your health and energy.
Liver and kidney detoxification come hand in hand. Along with an anti-inflammatory, nutrient-dense diet, eat plenty of liver-friendly foods. Liver-cleansing foods include turmeric, ginger, garlic, cilantro, milk thistle, and dandelion green, and drinking plenty of water is essential for liver health (15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21). You may want to dedicate an entire week to kidney and liver detoxification focusing on kidney- and liver-supporting foods.
How to Detoxify Your Gut
Gut microbiome health, smooth digestion, and healthy absorption is critical for your health. Your gut, specifically your colon and rectum, are the final steps of removal of waste. Poor microbiome balance, poor digestion, poor absorption, leaky gut syndrome, and other gut health issues can wreak havoc on your entire body. It can make nutrient absorption and the removal of waste and toxins difficult, which can lead to an array of symptoms (22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27).
Supporting your gut health is critical. I recommend that you eat lots of fiber-rich foods for healthy digestion and smooth elimination. Eat lots of prebiotic-rich foods to support good gut bacteria, including apples, bananas, onions, garlic, leek, Jerusalem artichokes, dandelion greens, and jicama.
Eat lots of probiotic-rich fermented foods, including kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt, kefir, and kombucha, unless you have histamine intolerance. Fermented foods are high in histamine and may be triggering if you have histamine intolerance or mast cell issues. Take a high-quality probiotic supplement (28, 29, 30, 31).
If you are dealing with Candida, yeast, bacterial, viral, or parasitic overgrowth, work with a functional medicine doctor. They can recommend an herbal protocol to address any gut infections naturally.
How to Detoxify Your Body with Binders
Toxin binders are substances that support the detoxification process. Binders bind to toxins to help your body to get rid of them through bowel movements. There are a number of different binders that offer different detoxification benefits. They may help to remove heavy metals, chemicals, and other toxins. They may help to reduce inflammation and support optimal health.
Fulvic acid and humic acids are bioactive carbons. They are organic compounds from a part of the soil called humus. They are one of the most powerful binders. They may help to remove heavy metals, cadmium, pesticides, and other toxins. They may also offer antioxidant benefits, immune support, and digestive benefits (32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38). Other toxin binders include activated charcoal, bentonite clay, diatomaceous earth (DE), zeolites, chitosan, chlorella, and silica (39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47).
How to Detoxify Your Body: Bonus Tips
Beyond strategic organ detoxification, you may benefit from other detoxification and health-supporting practices. Here is what I recommend:
- Follow a healthy, anti-inflammatory, nutrient-dense, antioxidant-rich diet full of greens, vegetables, herbs, spices, sprouts, fruits, nuts, seeds, grass-fed meat, pasture-raised poultry and eggs, wild-caught fish and seafood, and wild game to support detoxification and overall health (48).
- Use a high-quality indoor air filtration system to reduce your exposure to indoor toxins, mold mycotoxins, and allergens (49).
- Drink 8 to 12 glasses of water every day to support detoxification through urine and make sure you are drinking purified water to reduce exposure to toxins (50). According to a new, 2023 study published in eBioMedicine, The Lancet, high serum sodium levels may accelerate the aging process (51). They found that hydrating your body well may slow the aging process and reduce the risk of age-related health issues.
- Practice breathwork and move your body regularly to support your lung health and lung detoxification (52).
- Practice oil pulling each morning with coconut oil to remove bacteria, yeast, and toxins from your mouth, reduce the risk of dental issues and infections, and support your oral health (53).
- Try dry brushing before your daily shower to remove dead skin cells, support skin health, and allow lymphatic health and lymphatic detoxification (54).
- Try rebounding daily and exercise regularly to support sweating and detoxification through the skin and improve lung health, heart health, energy, stamina, and overall well-being (55).
- Use an infrared sauna regularly to support detoxification through sweating and to decrease inflammation (56).
- Try red light therapy to reduce inflammation, improve antioxidant-related functions, and fight toxin-related damage (57).
- Try IV nutrient therapy to improve your body’s micronutrient levels and reduce pain and inflammation, possibly related to high toxin load (58).
- Practice breathwork, mindfulness, gratitude, meditation, guided visualization, and progressive relaxation to reduce stress, decrease ‘mental toxicity’, and support your mental health (59).
If you are interested in detoxifying your body to improve symptoms of chronic toxin exposure, I recommend that you speak with your doctors first. I invite you to schedule a consultation with me here to see if you can benefit from detoxification and what detoxification strategies may be right for you.
If you are dealing with any chronic health issues, for advice on how to improve your nutrition and health, I welcome you to start a functional medicine consultation with me for further personalized guidance. You may book your consultation here.
Check out my Histamine Intolerance Course here. Learn on your own time, from anywhere. Get an inside look at the most helpful functional medicine tests for pinpointing imbalances, ways to identify and manage the most common (and sometimes surprising) mast cell triggers, and learn what to eat, what to avoid, and why.