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. Here is how.
More than 90% of alcohol is metabolized in your liver.
Liver enzymes metabolize alcohol to acetaldehyde, a known cancer-causing chemical.
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.
Excessive drinking can severely damage your liver function by causing fat buildup, inflammation, and scarring.
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.
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.
One of those waste products is a protein called beta-amyloid, which contributes to the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
With sleep deprivation, your body does not have time to perform those functions, so toxins can build up and affect several aspects of health.
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.
You should sleep seven to nine hours per night on a regular basis to promote good health.
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.
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.
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.
Water transports these waste products, efficiently removing them through urination, breathing, or sweating. So staying properly hydrated is important for detoxification.
The adequate daily intake for water is 3.7 liters for men and 2.7 liters for women. You may need more or less depending on your diet, where you live, and your activity level.
Sugar and processed foods are thought to be at the root of today’s public health crises.
High consumption of sugary and highly processed foods has been linked to obesity and other chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Examples of antioxidants include vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin.
Berries, fruits, nuts, cocoa, vegetables, spices, and beverages like coffee and green tea have some of the highest amounts of antioxidants.
Regular exercise— regardless of body weight — is associated with a longer life and a reduced risk of many conditions and diseases, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and certain cancers.
While there are several mechanisms behind the health benefits of exercise, reduced inflammation is a key point.
While some inflammation is necessary for recovering from infection or healing wounds, too much of it weakens your body’s systems and promotes disease.
By reducing inflammation, exercise can help your body’s systems — including its detoxification system — function properly and protect against disease.
It’s recommended that you do at least 150–300 minutes a week of moderate-intensity exercise — such as brisk walking — or 75–150 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity physical activity — such as running.