Undergoing a “detox” sounds like a daunting task. But, it’s an essential part of owning a human body. Despite our best efforts, unhealthy things come in one way or another. So in order for us to stay healthy, not only should we keep them from getting in, but we need them to go right on back out.
By taking small but consistent steps to shake off the bad stuff—pollution, toxins, less-than-wise food choices, stress—we free up our organs, body systems, and mind to better deal with the day-to-day. Plus, it makes doing a longer-term, extensive detox or cleanse less of a shock to the body if you do decide to go that route.
Follow these 16 ways to detox daily, and see if you don’t just feel a little bit better.
1. Drink water
We know—you’ve heard this one a million times. There’s a reason for that: staying hydrated is one of the most important things you can do for your body (and your sanity).
Not only does drinking enough water mean you’re flushing out toxins on the regular (and if that means plenty of bathroom breaks, so be it), it also means your skin will stay healthy, you’ll sleep better, and you might even notice that headaches, muscle cramping, digestive issues, and aches and pains subside substantially. If you just can’t bring yourself to chug all day long, try infused water to make it easier and more appetizing.
2. Breathe deeply
Conscious deep breathing can help reset your nervous system, leading you to feel calmer and to get some of that anxious energy out of your body. Inhale slowly through your nose, and hold the breath for seven seconds, or as long as it’s comfortable for you. Then exhale slowly through your mouth.
After you have exhaled completely, hold that for seven seconds. Begin the cycle again and repeat five times.
You can alter the number of seconds you hold it either after the in-breath or after you breathe out, depending on what state of mind you want to enhance. Making the inhalation longer than the exhalation increases energy, while making the exhalation longer than the inhalation promotes relaxation.
3. Develop a smoothie habit
Foods have been shown to be one of the best detoxifying and health-promoting agents for the body [source]. That’s because they contain natural anti-inflammatories, antioxidants, and all of the nutrients our bodies need to function well [source].
Want to consume a lot of fruits and veggies, but don’t have the time (or the palate) to be chomping on leafy greens all day? Smoothies are the perfect way to pack large amounts of nutrients into a delicious drink while retaining the fiber—unlike juicing.
4. Brush your skin
As the largest organ, the skin is vital for healthy detoxification and proper digestion. In fact, the skin is known as the third kidney. Dry skin brushing improves lymphatic drainage, reduces cellulite, promotes digestion, and supports detoxification. You can purchase a skin brush at Whole Foods, on Amazon, or simply use a dry towel.
Gently brush in a circular motion, always moving from the extremities towards the heart, thereby improving blood flow to the heart. Use counter-clockwise strokes on your belly to improve detoxification.
5. Scrape your tongue
By tongue scraping every morning, you remove bacteria that can lead to gingivitis and bad breath [source]. Brush your teeth before you tongue scrape.
Then use a tongue scraper or a spoon to reach as far back as possible and pull forward, scraping off the white film, which is a mucous layer made up of various organisms, including Candida (fungus) and Streptococcus mutans (bacteria).
6. Up your fiber and antioxidant intake
Antioxidants are found in deeply colorful foods with high levels of phytonutrients and vitamins, like berries, carrots, and greens. These natural “nutraceuticals” fight free radicals that damage cells and tissues.
Fiber is another extremely important nutrient found only in plants, e.g., whole grains, lentils, beans, fruits, and veggies, but not in animal products. It improves and supports a healthy microbiome, helps to remove toxins from the body, and has even been shown to decrease inflammation in the brain [source].
The list of beneficial effects to the body from a diet rich in fiber is very long [source], but it includes everything from keeping your digestion regular to preventing cancer (breast [source], colon [source]) and treating cardiovascular disease and other chronic conditions [source].
It’s interesting that the same plant foods that bring you antioxidants are also the best fiber sources in the diet.
This Baby Kale Salad with Oranges, Blueberries, and Pomegranate is the perfect place to start upping your antioxidant and fiber intake. If you remember nothing else, just remember to eat more plants!
7. Sweat regularly
Whether it’s detox yoga (such as Yin Yoga), a brisk walk, jogging, cycling, or swimming, commit to getting your heart rate up and breaking a sweat at least 15 minutes every day. Sweating releases toxins from the body, and regular exercise gets the blood moving and is essential for a healthy metabolism. You can also work up a sweat in a sauna, steam room, or a hot bath. Just make sure to hydrate before and after sweating.
Using a rebounder (a mini-trampoline) is a fun way to get your muscles to naturally detoxify your lymphatic system. Bouncing releases toxins as you engage your muscles to jump and land, which forces the lymph system to pump toxins out.
8. Sleep like you mean it
This is another no-brainer: Sleep is essential to a healthy, functioning body. It’s when we reset our brain, repair cells, and flush out toxins from our liver and kidneys (there’s a reason you have to pee first thing in the morning).
Awakening well-rested will also encourage you to eat healthier, be more active, and have a better mood. We can’t say it enough: Don’t skimp on your sleep!
9. Incorporate probiotics
Probiotics (healthy bacteria) regulate and restore your intestines’ natural balance. Studies have shown they can help protect the body from heavy metals, free radicals, and dangerous bacteria [source].
10. Enemas are not the enemy
Okay, this probably does not sound appealing, but enemas are a good way to naturally remove waste from the colon, especially in functional bowel disorders like constipation and irritable bowel syndrome [source].
For more information on how to do a home enema properly, click here. Alternatively, you can find a local colon hydrotherapist and get a colonic pre- and post-detox to clean out any toxic build-up.
11. Use a castor oil pack
The castor bean has long been known as the Palma Christi because of its healing effects. The oil can be used as a laxative, and castor oil packs have been shown to help with constipation [source]. Some alternative medicine practitioners have used the packs to cleanse, calm, and detox certain organs.
Rub castor oil on your stomach, your liver (right side), and your upper abdomen. Some people prefer to use a castor oil pack. Soak a cloth, towel, or old shirt in the castor oil, wrap the pack in plastic wrap, and then apply over the desired organ.
You can lay a hot water bottle or heating pad on the top of the pack and relax as you release toxins. It is recommended to apply a castor oil pack for 35–45 minutes one to three times a week during detox.
12. Sip on teas and cleansing beverages
Teas made from ingredients like burdock root, chicory, cilantro, dandelion, fenugreek, ginger, milk thistle, or turmeric can help detoxify the body, tone the liver, stimulate digestion, and increase metabolism. Or try this cleanse water recipe, which uses lemon juice, cayenne, and ginger.
Even a simple mug of hot water with lemon can be satisfying and detoxifying.
13. Take an Epsom salt bath
Stress is toxic for the body and finding a way to relieve it can be the ultimate detox. Soaking for 30 minutes in an Epsom salt bath is a wonderful way to detoxify the body and relax the soul. Add 1/4 cup of Epsom salt, 1/2 cup baking soda, 1/2 cup sea salt, 1/4 cup raw apple cider vinegar (optional) to a warm bath.
14. Oil pulling
Oil pulling has been a common detoxification practice for centuries and can be done with coconut, sesame, or olive oil [source]. It can be done to balance the oral bacteria, but it also has many other benefits.
Oil pulling should be done on an empty stomach to ensure maximum benefit. The best times are upon rising and before bed. Learn everything you need to know about it in this review article.
15. Keep the alcohol to a minimum
The effects of alcohol consumption can be seen in every tissue in the body, yet because it is so commonly used (and legal!), most people are unaware of it having any toxic effects.
The body is constantly working to keep a balance called homeostasis, but alcohol is known to cause oxidative stress and disrupt the functioning of the body’s systems.
It creates toxic effects on many parts of the body, such as the endocrine system that coordinates your hormone functions [source], the cardiovascular system causing high blood pressure and effects on the heart muscle [source], the liver [source], and not last or even least, the brain [source].
16. Kick out the processed meats
It’s even harder to imagine how processed meats can still be on the market since they were categorized as a Group 1 carcinogen in 2015 [source]. It turns out that when all of the evidence was reviewed, processed meats—your hot dog, bacon, smoked turkey, and other deli meats—were found to be carcinogenic to humans.
Yikes. We eat these and give them to our kids on a daily basis.
In the same report, red meat was classified as probably carcinogenic to humans (Group 2A) and positively associated with pancreatic, prostate, and colon cancers [source]. And what’s even more shocking to me is that this is not even new information!
Considering the effects of chemicals in the environment, toxins that we ingest, and the stress from the frantic pace of our everyday lives, it makes sense to take some time to detox regularly. My advice for any damaging process is to start with prevention—by watching what you take into the body first.
Given all this, emphasizing more plant-based eating is more important now than ever. It seems too easy just to stop the influx of bad stuff! Once that’s taken care of, the other methods for detox make a lot more sense.
What methods do you have for detoxing daily?
This post was medically reviewed by Dr. Kimberly Langdon, M.D., a university-trained obstetrician/gynecologist with 19 years of clinical experience. Learn more about Hello Glow’s medical review board here. As always, this is not personal medical advice, and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.217