It seems like every day a new quick fix for body detoxes comes out, so it’s important to be informed on the process. Here’s how to detox your body.

By Nancy Rones
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Toxins bombard us from every angle. They exist in the air we breathe, the cosmetics and cleaning products we use, the water we drink and bathe in, and the foods (especially processed ones) we eat. Even mental stress ups our toxic load. When all this “junk” accumulates, you may experience symptoms from widespread inflammation in the body, which is the root of many chronic illnesses. Our bodies have built-in systems to boot these “bad guys,” but there’s growing belief among many experts that our natural cleaning crew can get overwhelmed and could use an extra hand to detox the body. There are many means to lending this support, from switching up your diet to new personal care routines.

“How you feel is largely based on how efficiently your body is removing and purging toxins,” says Taz Bhatia, MD, an Atlanta-based integrative health expert and author of Super Woman Rx. “If you are sluggish or tired, no matter how much coffee you drink or how much sleep you get, there’s a good chance your body needs a detox to get you feeling better and to reset habits.”

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Detoxification Definition

While different health goals may drive us to detox (also called a cleanse), the overriding definition of detoxification is the same: removing toxins from the body. “Our body’s frontline for detoxification is the liver, which can be thought of as a filter for the blood by weeding out toxins and neutralizing or eliminating them from the body,” says Dr. Bhatia. “Environmental or internally-produced toxins can inhibit the liver from functionally optimally. Incorporating detoxifying regimens into our lifestyle helps support the liver and other organs cleanse the body and operate at its best.”

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Body Detox Benefits

Detoxing the body in healthy ways can be your best reset button. It can address immediate symptoms and potentially roll back your chance for disease down the road. Here are some positive, post-detox changes you may notice:

Increased Energy

Expect to feel lighter and more energized when you clear pollutants and waste from the body and consume detoxifying nutrients. (Lower inflammation, improved digestion, and sufficient hydration might all contribute to the revitalizing effect.)

Feeling Less Stressed

During a body detox, you’re often eliminating some stress triggers, such as sleep debt and a diet high in refined carbs and caffeine. At the same time, practicing self-care in itself can ease mental tension. “While detoxes release physical congestion and toxins, they are also about releasing clutter from the mind,” says Larissa Hall Carlson, E-RYT 500, an ayurvedic practitioner and advanced yoga teacher trainer in Washington, D.C.

Weight Loss

Often, you’re weaned from the addiction and cravings associated with processed foods and added sugar that can lead to weight gain. Less stress along with increased mindfulness of food choices and portions can also help shed pounds.

Happier Gut

Detoxes can aid the liver’s cleansing efforts. “Without an optimally functioning liver, we may experience gas, bloating, and constipation,” says Dr. Bhati.

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How to Detox Your Body

Celebrities are especially famous for body detoxes that lean toward extreme (fasting, leech therapy, or colonic irrigation to name a few). Not every tactic aimed at fighting the accumulation of impurities is quite so intense.

Below are a range of expert-backed ways that can potentially help you lose toxins. You should know that many detox methods haven’t been well-studied, and it’s best to run any detoxification techniques by your physician before you begin. Some people, such as pregnant or nursing women or those with chronic diseases, may be advised against certain channels of detox.

Dry Brushing

Adopted from the ancient healing system of Ayurveda, exfoliating your body and face with a natural dry brush or shower gloves before hopping into the shower helps in two ways: It sloughs off dead skin cells, which opens up pores, serving as an escape route for toxins. Secondly, the massaging action helps dislodge toxins into the body’s circulation, priming them for elimination, says Carlson. Follow your shower with a moisturizing organic body oil (lathering on a chemical-filled product would defeat the whole purpose).

Key potential advantages:

  • The technique is simple and quick.
  • It assists with detoxification externally and internally.
  • Once you invest in brushes, there is nothing to buy.


Sometimes to referred to as “the new juicing,” souping has you slurping on nutrient-dense, low-calorie hot or cold plant-based soups as well as nourishing bone broths. “Souping is a realistic way to ingest a lot of protective nutrients and fiber, which is the ‘scrubbing brush’ that removes potential toxins from the colon,” says Rachel Beller, RDN, CEO and Founder of Beller Nutrition in Beverly Hills, California. The number of days you rely mainly on soup for sustenance varies between plans; healthy snacks, such as fruit and nuts, may be part of the deal. Detox on homemade soups (check out the recipes in Beller’s [tempo-ecommerce src="" rel="sponsored" target="_blank">) or if you’re not the kitchen type, try a soup-cleanse delivery service, such as Splendid Spoon.

Key potential advantages:

  • Unlike many juice cleanses, souping provides fiber and a satisfying chew and doesn’t risk the sugar crashes and cravings you may get from fruit juice.
  • The liquid and the fiber are satiating, so you aren’t hungry.
  • It’s impossible for most of us to eat that many vegetables, which provide anti-inflammatory and antioxidant power, straight from a plate.
  • Souping is convenient for on-the-go clean eating.

Getting Enough Sleep

About forty percent of us fall short on the seven to nine hours a night that most of us need, according to the National Sleep Foundation. A study in the journal Science found that the space between brain cells may increase during sleep, allowing fluid around the brain to flow more freely through the brain and wash out waste that accumulates during waking hours—this includes potentially toxic proteins that are linked to neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s. The upshot: Regularly getting a good night’s sleep keeps the brain polished.

Key potential advantages:

  • You may help stave off Alzheimer’s.
  • It leads to increased mental sharpness; less brain fog.


Americans are becoming less timid about spices and deliberately using a wide variety of these flavor enhancers during meal prep. There’s growing evidence of the health-related benefits of spices, which may equate to aiding detoxification. “Since many spices have potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory effects, they may help fight inflammation in detoxifying organs such as the liver and gut, allowing those organs to run more smoothly,” says Beller, who created a line of organic spice blends called Rachel Beller’s Power Pantry. “Finding five easy recipes that integrate spices and that you make regularly can provide the constant flow of spices that will support your body.” There are tons of top-performing detoxifying spices, but Beller lists cumin, Ceylon cinnamon, paprika, turmeric (best partnered with other spices for absorption), ginger, and (totally-underrated) black pepper as amazing ways to start spicing.

Key potential advantages:

  • It doesn’t require huge dietary changes, since you can spice your existing meals.
  • Punching up the flavor of veggies and healthful grains may naturally increase your consumption of those foods.

Eliminating Problem Foods

When you’re experiencing symptoms of toxic overload, the elimination diet (sometimes called the “hypoallergenic diet”) dictates dropping the top common food sensitivities from your diet for about a month. A doctor or nutritionist may be guiding you on what to cut, but often you lose gluten, dairy, soy, corn, eggs, sugar, and alcohol, while eating a healthy diet of whole foods. The off-limits foods are then added back to your diet one at a time to help you identify what may be causing your symptoms.

Key potential advantages:

  • It provides individualized insight on what’s triggering negative physical reactions.
  • You’re giving sugar and processed foods that are linked to disease a rest.


Cupping was almost unheard before the 2016 Olympics in Rio, when a number of athletes, most famously swimmer Michael Phelps, sported the technique’s telltale red circles on their skin. The world was inspired, and now cupping is practically mainstream, appearing on the menu of many spas and wellness centers. Rooted in traditional Chinese medicine, cupping involves applying small cups or jars to the skin and uses them to suction skin and muscles upward (like the reverse pressure of a massage). “The therapy drains excess fluids and toxins, loosens adhesions and lifts connective tissue, and brings blood flow to stagnant skin and muscles,” says Dr. Bhatia, who offers cupping massages at her holistic spa, CentreSpring Spa. Acupuncture, another ancient Chinese healing method, is sometimes paired with a cupping treatment; similarly, acupuncture cuts through stagnation and blockages to push toxins toward elimination.

Key potential advantages:

  • It loosens muscles and eases muscular pain and stiffness.
  • It strengthens digestion.
  • It relaxes the nervous system.
  • It improves blood flow and metabolism.

Practicing Yoga

The deep, rhythmic inhalations and exhalations of yoga can put your body’s parasympathetic nervous system in charge—and that improves circulation and helps our body’s metabolism digest toxins, says Carlson. In particular, the twisting poses, like triangle pose, are detox all-stars. Often likened to wringing out a dirty sponge, twisting poses squeeze out congestion in the lymph (the clear fluid of the lymphatic system that delivers internal sludge to the lymph nodes for filtration) to keep it flowing.

Key potential advantages:

  • It’s beneficial for your mind and body.
  • Sweat (see below) from movement can induce further detox.
  • It can be practiced at home or in a studio or gym.


Evidence is mixed on just how many toxins seep out through perspiration, but there’s been enough research to thumbs-up regular vigorous exercise and short spurts in the sauna or steam room (if these sync with any health conditions you have). A group of Canadian researchers studying the natural elimination of toxins have found that many toxic elements are released through sweat; case in point: the group recently reported in BioMed Research International that perspiration appears to purge some contaminants in a group called polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs); PBDEs are used in products as flame retardants and have been increasingly deemed as dangerous to our health. Just make sure you stay hydrated with all that sweating.

Key potential advantages:

  • It can be tailored to your schedule, location, and ability.
  • You also reap the health-boosting benefits of cardio.

Going Organic

Picking only organic fruits, vegetables, meat, and dairy products as well as packaged products with the USDA-organic seal slashes your exposure to pesticides, hormones, antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and GMO’s, reducing the burden on your body’s natural detox process. (Side note: That USDA-organic seal doesn't guarantee an item is nutritious.) If organic produce is too much of a budget-buster, check out the Environmental Working Group’s annual Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce to see which fruits and vegetables ranked highest and lowest in pesticides, so you know where it’s best to invest. Going green on cleaning supplies and using only natural personal care products can further cut your contact with chemicals.

Key potential advantages:

  • Less exposure to synthetic pesticides may reduce cancer risks and for pregnant women, potentially lower risk of problems with brain development in their babies.
  • It’s a tangible way to control the chemicals you consume.

Tongue Scraping

Overnight, toxins collect in your mouth. Waking up with dragon breath and a white coating on your tongue are signs of the toxins in the body, says Carlson. Following a simple daily Ayurvedic practice, remove this toxic sludge every morning by swiping the tongue with a metal tongue cleaner; firmly drag it down the tongue about 4 times, says Carlson, who adds that you’re literally moving toxins right out of the beginning of the digestive tract.

Key potential advantages:

  • It freshens breath by removing bacteria.
  • It enhances taste receptors on the tongue.
  • It instantly strips away toxins.