Detoxification — or detox — is a popular buzzword.
It typically implies following a specific diet or using special products that claim to rid your body of toxins, thereby improving health and promoting weight loss.
Fortunately, your body is well-equipped to eliminate toxins and doesn’t require special diets or expensive supplements to do so.
That said, you can enhance your body’s natural detoxification system.
This article explains some common misconceptions about detoxing along with nine evidenced-based ways to rejuvenate your body’s detoxification system.
Detox diets are said to eliminate toxins from your body, improve health, and promote weight loss.
They often involve the use of laxatives, diuretics, vitamins, minerals, teas, and other foods thought to have detoxing properties.
The term “toxin” in the context of detox diets is loosely defined. It typically includes pollutants, synthetic chemicals, heavy metals, and processed foods — which all negatively affect health.
However, popular detox diets rarely identify the specific toxins they aim to remove or the mechanism by which they supposedly eliminate them (1Trusted Source).
Moreover, no evidence supports the use of these diets for toxin elimination or sustainable weight loss (2Trusted Source, 3Trusted Source).
Your body has a sophisticated way of eliminating toxins that involves the liver, kidneys, digestive system, skin, and lungs.
Still, only when these organs are healthy, can they effectively eliminate unwanted substances.
So, while detox diets don’t do anything that your body can’t naturally do on its own, you can optimize your body’s natural detoxification system.
More than 90% of alcohol is metabolized in your liver (4Trusted Source).
Liver enzymes metabolize alcohol to acetaldehyde, a known cancer-causing chemical (5Trusted Source, 6Trusted Source).
Recognizing acetaldehyde as a toxin, your liver converts it to a harmless substance called acetate, which is later eliminated from your body.
While observational studies have shown low-to-moderate alcohol consumption beneficial for heart health, excessive drinking can cause a myriad of health problems (7Trusted Source, 8Trusted Source, 9Trusted Source).
Excessive drinking can severely damage your liver function by causing fat buildup, inflammation, and scarring (10Trusted Source).
When this happens, your liver cannot function adequately and perform its necessary tasks — including filtering waste and other toxins from your body.
As such, limiting or abstaining entirely from alcohol is one of the best ways to keep your body’s detoxification system running strong.
Health authorities recommend limiting alcohol intake to one drink per day for women and two for men. If you currently don’t drink, you shouldn’t start for the potential heart benefits associated with light-to-moderate drinking (11Trusted Source).
Ensuring adequate and quality sleep each night is a must to support your body’s health and natural detoxification system.
Sleeping allows your brain to reorganize and recharge itself, as well as remove toxic waste byproducts that have accumulated throughout the day (12Trusted Source, 13Trusted Source).
One of those waste products is a protein called beta-amyloid, which contributes to the development of Alzheimer’s disease (14Trusted Source, 15Trusted Source).
With sleep deprivation, your body does not have time to perform those functions, so toxins can build up and affect several aspects of health (16Trusted Source).
Poor sleep has been linked to short- and long-term health consequences, such as stress, anxiety, high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity (17Trusted Source, 18Trusted Source, 19Trusted Source, 20Trusted Source).
You should sleep seven to nine hours per night on a regular basis to promote good health (21Trusted Source).
If you have difficulties staying or falling asleep at night, lifestyle changes like sticking to a sleep schedule and limiting blue light — emitted from mobile devices and computer screens — prior to bed are useful for improving sleep (22Trusted Source, 23Trusted Source, 24Trusted Source).
Water does so much more than quench your thirst. It regulates your body temperature, lubricates joints, aids digestion and nutrient absorption, and detoxifies your body by removing waste products (25Trusted Source).
Your body’s cells must continuously be repaired to function optimally and break down nutrients for your body to use as energy.
However, these processes release wastes — in the form of urea and carbon dioxide — which cause harm if allowed to build up in your blood (26Trusted Source).
Water transports these waste products, efficiently removing them through urination, breathing, or sweating. So staying properly hydrated is important for detoxification (27Trusted Source).
The adequate daily intake for water is 125 ounces (3.7 liters) for men and 91 ounces (2.7 liters) for women. You may need more or less depending on your diet, where you live, and your activity level (28).
Sugar and processed foods are thought to be at the root of today’s public health crises (29Trusted Source).
High consumption of sugary and highly processed foods has been linked to obesity and other chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes (30Trusted Source, 31Trusted Source, 32Trusted Source).
These diseases hinder your body’s ability to naturally detoxify itself by harming organs that play an important role, such as your liver and kidneys.
For example, high consumption of sugary beverages can cause fatty liver, a condition that negatively impacts liver function (33Trusted Source, 34Trusted Source, 35Trusted Source).
By consuming less junk food, you can keep your body’s detoxification system healthy.
You can limit junk food by leaving it on the store shelf. Not having it in your kitchen takes away the temptation altogether.
Replacing junk food with healthier choices like fruits and vegetables is also a healthy way to reduce consumption.
Antioxidants protect your cells against damage caused by molecules called free radicals. Oxidative stress is a condition caused by excessive production of free radicals.
Your body naturally produces these molecules for cellular processes, such as digestion. However, alcohol, tobacco smoke, a poor diet, and exposure to pollutants can produce excessive free radicals (36Trusted Source).
By causing damage to your body’s cells, these molecules have been implicated in a number of conditions, such as dementia, heart disease, liver disease, asthma, and certain types of cancer (37Trusted Source, 38Trusted Source).
Eating a diet rich in antioxidants can help your body fight oxidative stress caused by excess free radicals and other toxins that increase your risk of disease.
Focus on getting antioxidants from food and not supplements, which may, in fact, increase your risk of certain diseases when taken in large amounts (39Trusted Source, 40Trusted Source, 41Trusted Source).
Examples of antioxidants include vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin.
Berries, fruits, nuts, cocoa, vegetables, spices, and beve