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Heavy metal detox 

Symptoms and even chronic diseases related to heavy metal toxicity (also called heavy metal poisoning) is now considered to be a problem that millions of people deal with. (1)

Exposure to toxic heavy metals is believed to be a contributing factor, if not a root cause, of symptoms like low energy, mood disturbances and cognitive changes. Heavy metals first enter your bloodstream from exposure to farmed fish, contaminated water, dental fillings and household products. These metals then travel throughout your body and penetrate the cells of various tissues and organs, where they can remain stored up for years!

How do you treat heavy metal toxicity? Following a heavy metal detox plan is one of the best ways to start reversing symptoms. One thing to be aware of, however, is that while you work on overcoming metal poisoning, you might actually notice some symptoms getting worse before they get better. Potential heavy metal detox symptoms can include fatigue, loss of appetite and digestive issues.

What foods can help remove heavy metals from the body? As you’ll learn more about below, foods to include in a heavy metal detox include leafy green veggies, other non-starchy veggies, herbs, spices, algae and other superfoods, and bone broth.

Detoxifying treatments and certain supplements can also be incorporated into a natural heavy metal diet plan to help support your brain, nervous system, liver and other vital organs. Ready to start cleansing heavy metals and other chemicals from you body? If so, follow the detox diet and treatment plan described below to help rid your body of toxins.

Dangers of Heavy Metals (aka Heavy Metal Poisoning)

What exactly are “heavy metals”? Heavy metals are elements that can be toxic and very dangerous even in low concentrations. Heavy metals that can lead to toxicity (or “poisoning”) include: (2)

   Mercury

   Lead

   Arsenic

   Cadmium

   Aluminum

   Nickel

   Uranium

   Thallium

   Other definitions include manganese, iron, lithium, zinc and calcium (yes, under certain conditions very high levels of even essential minerals can become dangerous) (3)

Heavy metal poisoning describes a number of health problems caused by exposure to environmental metals that accumulate inside the body. According to a report in Scientific World Journal, “Toxic metals such as arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury are ubiquitous, have no beneficial role in human homeostasis, and contribute to noncommunicable chronic disease.” (4)

Researchers have identified that significant exposure to at least 23 different environmental metals (called “heavy metals”) can contribute to acute or chronic toxicity. These metals are described as being heavy because they stick around in the body, especially hiding out in adipose tissue (fat cells). They are difficult to get rid of, making them similar to fat-soluble toxins. Body fat tries to protect the organs by trapping certain substances inside, including some metals, which causes them to linger. This is one reason weight loss can sometimes result in heavy metal detoxing, as fat cells shrink and release dormant toxins.

There is virtually no way to entirely avoid heavy metal exposure, considering metals are natural elements found all over the world in the food supply, water and ground. (5) Environmental metals are problematic because over time, they can accumulate within bodily tissues, often without the person who is affected even realizing this is happening. Heavy metal toxicity can result in damaged or reduced mental and central nervous function, plus damage to the vital organs — such as the liver, heart, endocrine glands and kidneys.

Long-term exposure to heavy metals may lead to physical, muscular, and neurological degenerative processes. When they become severe, heavy metal poisoning symptoms can even mimic symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis. Because heavy metal poisoning symptoms mimic those related to aging (such as loss of memory and increased fatigue), many people blame getting older as the cause of their emerging symptoms, not realizing that heavy metal exposure is a major contributing factor.

Heavy metal detox guide 

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Heavy Metal Poisoning?

Some of the most common warning signs that you might be struggling with heavy metal toxicity include:

   Chronic fatigue

   Autoimmune diseases, including Lyme’s disease

   Poor recovery from exercise and weakness

   Skin irritation

   Neurological disorders

   Brain-fog, trouble concentrating, difficulty learning and poor memory

   Depression, manic depression and/or anxiety

   Dementia

   Insomnia

   Digestive issues, such as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome)

   Chronic aches and pains, such as those associated with fibromyalgia

   Tremors

   Impaired motor control, hearing, speech, vision and gait

   Anemia

   Higher risk for heart attacks

Where Do Heavy Metals Come From?

Mercury poisoning is one of the most common types of heavy metal poisoning. Almost every single person in the world has at least trace amounts of mercury in his or her body. Why? Some of the factors that can cause mercury poisoning (and other types of heavy metal toxicity) include:

   Exposure to environmental pollutants, such as traffic fumes, air pollution, food contaminants, cigarette smoke or radiation.

   Having metal amalgam dental fillings (silver fillings slowly release mercury into the body).

   Eating a poor-quality diet (for example, eating farm-raised fish that carry high levels of mercury). According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the most common way we’re exposed to mercury in the U.S. is by consuming fish you shouldn’t eat that contains health-hazardous heavy metals, such as tilefish, swordfish, shark, king mackerel and bigeye tuna. (6) A diet that includes processed foods, especially those that are imported from foreign countries and not organically grown (and even plant foods grown in soil that has high levels of metals) can also be a contributing factor.

   Drinking water that is contaminated with trace amounts of metals (such as aluminum).

   From birth (heavy metals can be passed down in utero from mother to her offspring).

   Exposure or use of household substances that carry mercury, such as adhesives, air condition filters, cosmetics, fabric softeners, felt, floor waxes and polishes, and talcum powder.

   Getting tattoos.

   Exposure to substances that carry lead, such as some chocolates, canned foods, toothpastes, old paints, insecticides, ceramic and some pottery, and soldered pipes.

   Use or exposure to other household items, such as antiperspirants, baking powder, certain baby formulas, plastic toys, antacids, aluminum foil, certain metal pots and pans, stainless steel cutlery, coins, and some makeup.

   Possibly receiving certain vaccinations.

In high amounts, mercury is one of the deadliest metals there is. Certain studies have found that when nerves are exposed to mercury, the myelin sheath (the fatty substance that surrounds the axon of some nerve cells and helps with electrical signaling) can become severely damaged, interfering with how nerves communicate.

What are some warning signs and side effects associated with mercury poisoning? These include: changes to the central nervous system, irritability, fatigue, behavioral changes, tremors, headaches, problems hearing, skin damage and cognitive loss. (7)

Can you die from heavy metal poisoning? While it’s rare, it’s possible — in some severe cases, metal poisoning has lead to hallucinations and death.

What Is a Heavy Metal Detox? Plus Benefits of Heavy Metal Detox

If someone has reason to believe that they have had excessive exposure to metals, they should seek medical testing for metal poisoning by speaking with their doctor or integrative practitioner/naturopath. Heavy metal testing in the form of hair analysis or a blood test is now widely available and is useful for confirming suspected toxicity. Even if you choose not to be tested for toxicity, many of the diet and lifestyle changes described below will still be beneficial for immune system function, gut health, liver function and more.

The primary goal of a heavy metal detox is to remove accumulated heavy metals from your brain and nervous system. The kidneys, liver, heart, lymphatic system and respiratory system will also benefit from detoxification, such as a liver cleanse.

How are toxins removed from the body? The most common way is through chelation. Chelation therapy is a medical procedure (although it can also be performed at home) that involves the administration of chelating agents to remove heavy metals from the body by binding to molecules and allowing them to be dissolved and excreted in the urine.

Chelation is central to natural detoxification of heavy metals because it works with glutathione and other small molecules to promote excretion. It’s recommended that it be performed by a doctor since serious side effects are possible, such as removal of essential minerals and cognitive impairment. (8)

Other ways to detox the body of heavy metals include making dietary changes and using herbs and supplements, which help to break down metals into smaller molecules so they can be removed from urine, feces, sweat and even the breath.

Benefits of doing a heavy metal detox include:

   Reduced free radical damage/oxidative stress

   Improvements in energy levels

   Enhanced immunity and gut health

   Better digestive function

   Improvements in mental performance (attention, memory, learning, etc.)

   Improved skin health

   Better protection against diseases cognitive disorders and autoimmune disease

Heavy metal detox treatment - Dr. Axe

Heavy Metal Detox Diet

First and foremost, changing your diet should be the first step you take to improve your overall health. What foods can help remove heavy metals from the body?

Foods to eat while doing a heavy metal detox include:

  Leafy green veggies — Greens are some of the most powerful heavy metal detox foods. Try to have some type of bitter greens each day, such as kale, swiss chard, dandelion greens, mustard greens, arugula, spinach or beet greens. Broccoli sprouts are another great food for providing antioxidants and reducing inflammation.

   Herbs and spices — Anti-inflammatory, antioxidant herbs and spices like basil, parsley, oregano, rosemary, thyme, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon and cilantro can help remove heavy metals. Cilantro (along with other green herbs and plants) is one of the best herbs for detoxifying and can help reduce the buildup of heavy metals like mercury and lead in the body. (9) Try adding herbs like cilantro and parsley to fresh-squeezed green juices.

   Foods rich in vitamin C – Fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C can reduce the damage caused by heavy metal toxicity by acting as an antioxidant. High-vitamin C foods include citrus fruits like oranges or grapefruit, leafy greens like spinach and kale, all types of berries, broccoli and cruciferous veggies, kiwi, papaya, guava and bell pepper.

   Garlic and onions – These vegetables contain sulfur which helps your liver detoxify itself of heavy metals like lead and arsenic.

   Water – Drink 8 ounces of water or vegetable juice every two hours to stay hydrated and help flush out toxins.

   Flax and chia seeds – These provide omega-3 fats and fiber that can help with detoxification of the colon and reduce inflammation.

   Bone broth— Bone broth helps to keep you hydrated, provides important mineral, and supports liver health by providing glutathione. It also provides amino acids that help strengthen the organs. Consume bone broth by either making your own and sipping on several cups daily, or by using protein powder made from bone broth.

Foods to avoid while detoxing include:

   Farmed fish – Farmed fish, especially those from foreign countries where the quality is not monitored, can contain heavy metals, dioxins and PCB’s which are highly toxic. The worst offenders are tilefish, swordfish, shark, king mackerel and bigeye tuna. You can continue to eat fish up to several times per week — just make better choices that are low in mercury and purchase wild-caught fish, ideally from a local fisherman that you trust. Food allergens – If your body is fighting against common allergens and dealing with high levels of inflammation, it will not be able to detoxify from heavy metal poisoning as well.  Non-organic foods – These foods increase exposure to chemicals which make symptoms worse. Some of the worst offenders include conventional apple juice and brown rice products. For a list of other foods that you should always try to buy organic, see this list of the Dirty Dozen, detailing the most pesticide-contaminated produce as tested by the Environmental Working Group (EWG). Foods with additives – Additives may aggravate toxicity symptoms and decrease your body’s ability to detoxify. Alcohol – Too much alcohol is toxic to the body and can make it more difficult for your liver to process other toxins. Supplements to take that may help you overcome heavy metal poisoning include: Chlorella (1-4 grams per day, or about 4-8 caps daily) — Chlorella is a type of green algae that acts as a natural chelator to remove heavy metals, especially lead and mercury. It’s a great source of chlorophyll and is “hungry” to absorb other metals. You can take it in powder or tablet form.

   Vitamin C (3000 milligrams daily) — Acts as an antioxidant to help reduce free radicals.

   Cilantro (preferably taken as a tincture 2x per day)

   Shilajit (between 100-500 milligrams daily, typically in powder form) — Shilajit is an adaptogenic plant that has certain things in common with activated charcoal, especially that it contains a lot of carbon. It’s a natural chelator because it contains fulvic acid and humic acid that bind to toxic molecules. (10)

   Milk Thistle (150 milligrams taken 2x daily, or milk thistle tea 1-3 times daily) — This is one of the most popular herbs for detoxifying the liver. Silybin is a component with the greatest degree of biological activity that has strong antioxidant properties. It may act as a toxin blockade agent by inhibiting binding of toxins to cell membrane receptors. Silymarin has been shown to reduce liver injury and is used to treat alcoholic liver disease, acute and chronic viral hepatitis and toxin-induced liver diseases.  (11)

   Probiotics (soil-based, 50 billion units one time daily) — Can help improve detoxification of the gut and help boost immunity.

Treatment methods to use include:

   Chelation therapy — Of all heavy metal detox products, chelation therapy is probably one of the most effective ways to reduce serious heavy metal exposure, especially metals like lead, mercury, aluminum and arsenic. Chelation therapy involves a chemical solution called EDTA (ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid), which is administered into the body, typically directly into the bloodstream via injection, so it can bind with excess minerals. EDTA chelation therapy helps to eliminate metals by binding salts to molecules. After EDTA attaches to heavy metals, together they both move to the kidneys where they are eliminated through urine. Most people need between 5–30 chelation sessions to see the best results. While it’s considered to be generally safe, side effects are possible. What are potential side effects of chelation therapy? These include burning at the injection site, vomiting, feeling dizzy, fever, headaches, nausea, low blood sugar symptoms and blood pressure changes.

   Activated charcoal— Activated charcoal is a treatment that works to eliminate metals and toxins via adsorption, or the chemical reaction where elements bind to a surface. The porous surface of activated charcoal has a negative electric charge that causes positive charged toxins and gas to bond with it. Charcoal is so powerful that it’s used as a emergency treatment for removing poisons from the body very fast. (12) It’s full of carbon and can help discard heavy metals and other toxins. Look for activated charcoal made from coconut shells or identified wood species that have ultra-fine grains. Follow directions based on the specific type you use. Whenever you take activated charcoal, it’s imperative to drink 12–16 glasses of water per day.

   Bentonite clay— Clays are used to absorb toxins because they act like a sponge or magnet for chemicals and metals inside the body. (13) Due to its poly-cationic nature, bentonite clay leads to absorption of negative charge toxins. Most clays are meant for topical use only (they are not meant to be ingested). However, some high-quality, organic clays can be used internally, although you need to be very careful about doing this (contact the manufacturer to ask if it’s safe to consume the clay). Historically, many cultures ate clay to obtain minerals and help cleanse their bodies of parasites and other microbes. If you do want to use clay internally, mix 1/2 teaspoon with water, shake to combine and take once daily.

   Triphala— Triphala is a a traditional Ayurvedic herbal formulation made from the dried powder of three different fruits that contain the strong antioxidants called gallic acid, ellagic acid and chebulinic acid. (14) Triphala has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-diarrheal abilities. Consuming triphala can help to cleanse the digestive tract, relieve constipation and produce regular bowel movements, which are important for removing metals, bacteria, and excess fatty acids from the body. It can be consumed in tea form, powder form, as liquid tincture or in capsule form. Take it on an empty stomach, ideally about two hours before bedtime.

   Homemade Anti-Itch Cream — If you deal with skin irritation or itchiness either before or during your heavy metal detox, then apply anti-itch cream to help soothe the inflammation. This cream contains coconut oil and shea butter to boost hydration, essential oils to fight infection and help with healing, and ingredients like apple cider vinegar and bentonite clay to cleanse and detoxify the skin. Spread the cream over itchy skin irritations 2–3 times (avoid if you have an allergy to any of the ingredients).

Heavy Metal Detox Recipes Detox drinks and recipes can help to naturally reduce inflammation, boost energy, support digestion, cleanse the liver and promote gut health.  Detox drinks are especially useful for providing raw vegetables, fruits and herbs that stimulate detoxification while providing vitamins and minerals. Many detox drinks can be made with ingredients you already have at home, like lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, cucumbers, leafy greens, berries, ginger, herbs or melon. You can also make detoxifying water drinks, which you can sip on throughout the day.

Below are recipes to incorporate into your heavy metal detox plan:

  1. Secret Detox Drink Recipe
  1. Other Detox Drinks
  1. Detox Smoothie Recipes
  1. Detox Switchel
  1. Dandelion Tea
  1. Directions for making Milk Thistle Tea

Heavy Metal Detox Symptoms + How to Deal with Them

When you begin to detoxify, certain symptoms can be expected as you body starts to acclimate. Before you wind up feeling better and seeing improvements in your health, you might actually feel worse at first for a brief period of time. This is a sign that your body is going through changes that might not feel very great, but ultimately they will leave you healthier once you get through them. Remember that your body heals itself, and in the process you might need to go through a transition phase that feels uncomfortable.

What are the side effects of detoxing? Potential heavy metal detox symptoms you might temporarily experience while you’re cleansing include:

   Bloating and gas

   Nausea or vomiting

   Diarrhea or constipation

   Headaches

   A skin rash

   Changes in appetite

   Low energy

   Metallic or sour taste in the mouth

Some people find that if they jump into a detox too “aggressively” and quickly, they wind up dealing with significant side effects/symptoms. It’s advised that you detox slowly and gradually; start by making dietary changes and then beginning incorporating herbs, supplements and treatments over the course of at least several weeks or months.

Try to stick with the detox plan outline above and be patient — it will be worth it! To ease symptoms, stay hydrated, get plenty of sleep, eat a nutrient-dense diet, manage stress and only do moderate exercises until you gain more energy.

How long can you expect it to take for a heavy metal detox to begin working? It really depends on how high your levels are, the source(s) of exposure and the efforts you make to rid yourself of these metals.

Remember that heavy metal exposure slowly takes place over many years, so getting rid of them will not happen overnight. It might take months for even longer for you reverse the problem, but it’s important to stay on track since toxicity can have a negative life-long impact on your health.

Precautions/Side Effects When Doing A Heavy Metal Detox

Because heavy metal toxicity causes such a range of health problems, it can be easy to confuse toxicity without another underlying health condition. If you have concerns about your heavy metal levels, it’s a good idea to see a doctor for testing who can help diagnose you. Regarding what to do amalgam about dental fillings, talk to your dentist about available options (I recommend seeking out a IAOMT-certified dentists who has been trained in biocompatible dentistry).

It’s especially important for women who are considering becoming pregnant in the near future to know their heavy metal levels, since toxicity can contribute to developmental problems in newborns. If a women has been diagnosed with high levels of a heavy metal, such as mercury, it’s recommended that she delay pregnancy by at least a few months so they can work on restoring normal levels first.

Final Thoughts on Heavy Metal Poisoning & Detoxes

   Heavy metals are elements that can be toxic and very dangerous even in low concentrations. The most dangerous heavy metals include mercury, lead, cadmium and arsenic.

   Causes of heavy metal toxicity include environmental pollution, food contamination, water contamination, metal dental fillings and use of household/beauty products that contain trace amounts of metals.

   Heavy metal detoxes use foods, herbs, supplements and treatments to excrete metals from the body via the urine, feces, sweat and breath. Some of the most effective include chelation therapy, bentonite clay, milk thistle, triphala, bone broth, bitter leafy greens, alage, raw juices and herbs.

   Symptoms might get worse during a detox before they get better as the body transitions and cleanses.

Can Metal Hurt Me? A List of Heavy Metals and How they Affect you

Mercury can collect in the body and cause many health problemsA variety of heavy metals are present in the environment. Some occur naturally, while others may be present due to pollution. Some, in small amounts, play important roles in the body, while others have no known beneficial purpose in terms of health. High levels of heavy metals in the body, both those that are nutritionally necessary and those that are not, is called heavy metal toxicity and can cause a long list of symptoms and health problems.

Heavy Metals List, And How We Are Exposed To Them

The most commonly encountered heavy metals include ones that the body needs, such as zinc, copper, chromium, manganese and iron. While they enhance health in trace amounts, they can become toxic at high levels. These metals are typically obtained from foods, a route by which it is extremely rare for toxicity to occur. Exposure to toxic levels of these metals typically occurs via overuse of dietary supplements, industrial/workplace exposure or medical issues that impair metabolism, such as liver or kidney disease.

Other heavy metals commonly encountered in the environment are metals that serve no purpose in the body, but may still collect in its tissues, such as mercury, lead, cadmium, arsenic and aluminum. Common exposure sources include:

   Mercury – Exposure occurs via inhalation, skin absorption or ingestion. Common sources are air pollution, mercury amalgam dental fillings, mercury-based vaccine preservatives, cosmetics, and dietary exposure, most commonly via contaminated seafood. Fluorescent light bulbs and older, glass thermometers contain mercury, and if broken, can be a source of exposure.

   Lead – Common sources of toxic exposure include lead-based paints, which can be ingested as flakes or inhaled as dust, contaminated water and/or water pipes, air pollution, and workplace exposure. Some cosmetics contain lead, particularly lipsticks, improperly glazed ceramic dishes may leach lead, and it has been found in some toys, particularly imported plastic ones.

   Cadmium – Air pollution is the primary source of this metal, which settles to earth from the air to contaminate water and soil. It iefore stricter regulations were imposed, workers could be exposed to lead in the workplaces in most foods, with heaviest contamination found in shellfish, liver and kidney meats, and is inhaled from contaminated air and tobacco smoke. Arsenic – Exposure can come from pesticides, treated wood, water, air pollution and workplace exposure. Some paints contain arsenic, as do certain fungicides and rat poisons. Fish and shellfish may contain arsenic from polluted waters, and many chicken producers use arsenic-based additives in chicken feed.  Aluminum – Common sources of exposure include drinking water, antiperspirants, air pollution, aluminum cookware, aluminum foil, baking powders, processed cheeses, table salt and over-the-counter drugs, including many antacids, anti-diarrheal drugs and pain relievers. While there is no way to avoid exposure to heavy metals altogether, it can be reduced significantly by limiting consumption of fish and seafood to no more than once or twice a week to avoid mercury, and looking into lead content of dishes, cosmetics and toys. Choosing organic foods can limit exposure through pesticides and arsenic-laced poultry, and using stainless steel or enamel cookware, avoiding use of aluminum foil, processed foods and aluminum-containing medications can help, as can installing a water purification system. Check out this video for more detailed information. Heavy Metal Toxicity Symptoms There are two forms (PDF) of heavy metal toxicity, acute toxicity that occurs when one is exposed to a large amount of metal at one time, and chronic toxicity, which occurs with long-term exposure to low levels of heavy metals.

Symptoms of acute heavy metal toxicity generally appear quite quickly after exposure and may include:

   Confusionefore stricter regulations were imposed, workers could be exposed to lead in the workplace

   Numbness or tingling in arms, hands, legs and or feet

   Nausea

   Vomiting

   Headache

   Excessive sweating

   Labored breathing

   Impaired motor or language skills

   Irregular heart beat

   Convulsions

Chronic metal toxicity symptoms develop gradually and are more difficult to recognize. Among the most common are:

   Chronic muscle pain

   Chronic malaise, fatigue

   Forgetfulness or brain fog

   Dizziness

   Insomnia

   Headaches, migraines, visual disturbances

   Impaired immune function

   Gastrointestinal problems, such as bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea, heartburn, indigestion

   Mood swings, depression, anxiety

   Burning, numbness, tingling in extremities

Diagnosis and Treatment Heavy metal toxicity is diagnosed by means of an evaluation of symptoms and heavy metal testing. A heavy metal test may look for specific metals in urine, blood or plasma to evaluate levels within the body. Depending upon the particular metal involved, blood tests may also be done to evaluate the function of organs like the liver and kidneys, or to look for anemia related to heavy metal toxicity. If heavy metal toxicity is diagnosed, treatment in chronic toxicity begins with determining likely sources of exposure and eliminating them. For mild to moderate cases, avoiding further exposure may be enough to allow the body to eliminate toxins, or nutritional therapy may be used to aid the elimination process. Chelation therapy may be used in acute toxicity and more severe chronic toxicity cases, which uses specific agents to flush metals from the body. Some of the media in this article come from the  Centers for Disease Control, Dr. Axe and  Prevention's Public Health 


Want more recipes and healthy living tips? Join our newsletter today for free. Cleanse vs. Detox: What’s the Difference? Cleanse vs. Detox: What’s the Difference?

No doubt, you’ve heard of juice cleanses, sugar cleanses, and detox diets.

And if you’ve ever tried to break a weight-loss plateau, beat the bloat, or get back on track after a little too much mac and cheese, someone has probably suggested doing a body cleanse or detox diet (also known as a detox cleanse) to get things going again.

Cleansing and detoxing are getting a ton of hype right now — do a Google search for “detox” or “cleanse” and you’ll get millions of results. Turns out you can pretty much cleanse or detox almost every aspect of your life.

You could use them end toxic relationships, block toxic trolls on social media, or do a “digital detox” to break your screen habit.

When it comes to body cleanses and detoxes, the amount of info out there is overwhelming.

But doing a cleanse or detox diet is more than just unfriending a bully or unplugging your iPad. It can affect your health and nutrition, so it’s important to dig deeper to figure out the truth behind the hype.

There are key differences between a cleanse and a detox diet, but people tend to use the two terms interchangeably, which makes things even more confusing. So what’s the difference between a cleanse and a detox? Read on to find out. Cleanse vs. Detox: What Are Toxins? What Are Toxins? When people talk about body cleanses or detox diets, they talk about the dangers of “toxins” a lot, but usually in a very non-specific way: Toxins are all around us! Your body is filled with toxins that need to be flushed out! But what exactly are these toxins? Toxins are potentially harmful substances we come into contact with every day — pesticides on your produce, pollutants in the air, unpronounceable ingredients in processed food, or heavy metals like mercury and arsenic in the soil, to name just a few.

You’ve probably also heard that foods like gluten, dairy, and refined sugar are “toxic” — but unless you have an allergy or intolerance, you don’t have to swear off bread forever.

While anything can be toxic if you consume too much of it, the occasional handful of cookies won’t turn you into a biohazard. That said, if you’re eating a ton of sugar, you might want to consider cutting back, like Beachbody Editor Hannah Rex did when she went on a sugar cleanse and gave up sweets and added sugars for three weeks.

But especially in our modern world, many of us are constantly bombarded by toxins in the air, in food, in our cleaning products, everywhere — and those toxins can add up.

Newsflash: Your Body Detoxifies Itself

Assuming you don’t fall face first into a radioactive swamp, your body is equipped to deal with most toxins. When you inhale, ingest, or absorb toxins, your liver and kidneys work to flush many of them out — and they’ve been doing this long before cleanses and detoxes came about.

But if you’re constantly hammering yourself with environmental toxins and skimping on nutrients and proper hydration, your body’s natural detoxification system can be inhibited.

“Your body wants to get rid of the unhealthy stuff, but if you keep eating more junk, you’re not going to be able to get the other junk out,” says Denis Faye, M.S. and Beachbody’s executive director of nutrition. “It’s like clogging a drain.” It puts your liver and kidneys under a lot of pressure — and that’s where cleansing comes in. Cleanse vs. Detox: What's the Difference between a cleanse diet and a detox diet?

What Is a Cleanse? There are two Beachbody cleanses: the 3-Day Refresh and the 21-day Ultimate Reset. These cleanse diets don’t just eliminate junk from your diet — they also focus on fueling your body with nutrient-rich foods that support your natural detoxification processes.

“Fluids, fiber, and phytonutrients from fruits and vegetables can go a long way in terms of supporting your wellness and your body’s natural systems,” Faye says.

By stripping your diet down to the essentials, you’re giving your liver and kidneys a chance to do their job more efficiently.

While you’ll probably shed a few pounds in the process, the real goal of the Beachbody cleanses is to reshape the way you think about nutrition.

The 3-Day Refresh is a 3-day cleanse that could be a good way to jumpstart a healthy eating plan or help your body recover from a not-so-virtuous weekend; Ultimate Reset is a longer, more intensive program that can help transform your diet in the long run.

(Not sure which Beachbody cleanse to do? Take this quiz to see which cleanse is right for you.)

But don’t jump willy-nilly into a program: It’s important to do research and preparation ahead of time so you know what to expect before and after you do it. And while you will have to make some food sacrifices, believe it or not, you won’t have to give up flavor or variety.

To make it easy, we created several Beachbody Cleanse meal plans for you, complete with shopping lists!  How to Meal Prep for Ultimate Reset (Phase One) How to Meal Prep for Ultimate Reset (Phase Two) How to Meal Prep for Ultimate Reset (Phase Three)  How to Meal Prep for the 3-Day Refresh What Is a Detox Cleanse? What Is a Detox Diet? Detox diets (or detox cleanses) also eliminate unhealthy grub from your diet, but they often require a super-restrictive diet consisting of a small number of foods that claim to have “detoxifying properties.” We can get behind eating healthy foods that help your body detoxify itself, but some of the detox diets out there sound like straight-up torture — do you really want to drink lemonade laced with cayenne pepper for 10 days straight or eat cabbage soup at every meal? The thing is, those foods won’t actually flush your system. “’Detox diet’ is kind of a misnomer, because food is not going to detox you,” Faye says. In other words, it’s still your liver and kidneys doing the cleaning — not the food itself.

And if a diet is too restrictive, your body may not be getting the nutrients it needs to carry out its natural processes.

One way of looking at the difference between a cleanse and a detox is that detox diets usually focus on “out with the old” in the short term. But cleanse programs also address the “in with the new” aspect.

Good cleanses can help you form new eating habits that support your body and help you stay healthy (and non-toxic!) for the long haul.

Bottom line, don’t just accept the latest buzzy trends at face value — the devil is in the details: Do your homework, find out what the hype is all about, and make sure it’s serving your goals of living a healthier life.

(Pro Tip: It’s always a good idea talk to your doctor before you make any significant dietary changes, especially if you’re on any medications or have an ongoing medical condition.)

WebMD does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

A smart tip for detox beginners: if you work during the week, it’s a good idea to begin your detox on a Friday. This approach allows for more downtime during the first few days of your diet, which are usually the most difficult.

What to Eat on Your 7-Day Detox Diet: Sample Options

There are no hard and fast rules as to what you should include in your week-long detox diet. However, your goal should be to focus on antioxidant-packed cleansing vegetables and fruits along with high-fiber foods like whole grains, nuts, and seeds. As you build your diet around these foods, make sure to eat in moderation.

In addition, you can round out your detox diet with plant-based protein and probiotic-rich fermented foods such as miso. Here are some additional ideas to help with your meal planning for the week:

   Eat locally-grown, seasonal fruits and vegetables. Try a salad with seasonal vegetables, whole fruit, smoothies, juices (such as beet, carrot, apple and ginger juice or green juice).

   Enjoy balanced meals. Each meal should ideally include some protein, healthy fat, high-fiber, whole grain carbs, and fruits and vegetables. For inspiration, search our expert-created recipes found here on Verywell for gems like  Red Curry Lentil Soup With Kale or Chickpea Buddha Bowl.

   Opt for recipes with variety. Try to get a variety of vegetables on your plate, such as dark leafy greens, beets, artichokes, onions, carrots, and cucumbers. Add cooked chickpeas, avocado, brown rice, baked sweet potato, hemp seeds, extra-virgin olive oil, and other foods rich in protein, fiber, and fat. Better yet, look for recipes that combine a variety of plant-based ingredients like  Sweet Potato and Red Cabbage Slaw.

   Breakfast. If you tend to eat the same thing for breakfast, try oatmeal, a smoothie, fresh berries, a breakfast bowl, or chia pudding.

   Snack. Some snack ideas include White Bean and Cashew Dip or Roasted Red Beet Hummus with vegetables or  Cumin-Lime Roasted Chickpeas.

   Lunch or dinner. A perfect meal might include a portobello mushroom cap brushed with olive oil and baked, Butternut Squash Soup,  One-pot Vegan Chili, Curried Chickpeas, Baked Honey-Mustard Salmon, or Black Bean Arugula Tostadas.

What to Avoid on Your 7-Day Detox Diet

Throughout your seven-day detox diet you should steer clear of processed foods and any foods with added sugar, as well as dairy and wheat. Caffeine is also off-limits, as well as some specific foods in the meat and condiments categories.

Avoid alcoholic drinks (such as wine, beer, and spirits) during the cleanse. Alcohol is metabolized in the body mainly by the liver. It is broken down briefly to acetaldehyde, a chemical that has the potential to damage liver cells and body tissues, before it is further broken down and eliminated from the body. Besides lightening the load on your liver, avoiding alcohol (and caffeine) for the week can help to shift habits you've cultivated.

Keeping Hydrated

Drinking plenty of water can go a long way in flushing out toxins. While you’re on your detox diet, aim to drink eight glasses of filtered water daily. That includes a glass of water (ideally room-temperature or lukewarm) as soon as you wake up in the morning. A helpful hint: opting for lemon water or a DIY infused water may enhance the detoxing effects of your morning hydration.

Some people may need more fluids, and some people may need less. Although you can use your thirst as a guide, you may want to consult your health professional about the appropriate fluid intake for you.

Exercising

 

Physical activity boosts circulation and, in turn, helps your body to eliminate toxins. To rev up your circulation during your detox diet, make sure to include light exercise in your daily routine. You might try going for a walk during your lunch break, for instance, or taking part in a restorative yoga class.

Since your energy may lag during the first few days of your detox diet, it might be helpful to break up your exercise sessions into short intervals. If you don’t exercise regularly, talk with your doctor before starting an exercise regimen.

Self-Care and Your Detox Diet: Goals to Consider

A detox diet isn’t about depriving yourself of certain foods or activities—it’s about taking better care of your body and mind so that you can feel great in the everyday. Try using this time to strengthen your self-care, such as by improving your sleep routine and treating yourself to a massage (a therapy thought to promote the release of toxins).

Your seven-day detox diet is also a perfect opportunity to try out new stress-management techniques. To alleviate daily stress and find your way to greater calm, try practicing deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, mindfulness meditation, or yoga. Even simple strategies like listening to music, going for a leisurely walk, soaking in the tub, or curling up with a favorite book can help soothe your mind.

Dealing With Digestive Issues

If you’re not used to eating a lot of fiber, it may take a few days for your body to adjust to the high-fiber content of a detox diet. To stimulate your digestive system, try sipping herbal tea (such as ginger tea, peppermint tea, caraway tea, or cinnamon tea).

 

If your seven-day detox diet is particularly rich in beans, try adding a piece of kombu seaweed to your soaking water when preparing dried beans.

 

Keep in mind that by day four or day five of a detox diet, many people begin to feel more energetic and notice that their digestion is improving.

Planning Your Post-Detox Diet

 

As you journey through your detox diet, you’ll likely find that simple changes such as drinking more fluids or eating more vegetables can have a profound effect on your daily wellbeing. In fact, it’s thought that the 7-day approach is an ideal way to experiment with a broad variety of new foods, recipes, and lifestyle habits. To build on that momentum, ease back into a less restrictive diet while adopting new behaviors (such as eating three servings of vegetables at lunch and dinner).

 

A word of advice: Don’t try to make too many changes all at once. Research shows that people form healthy habits more easily when attempting to take on simple actions (such as drinking more water) rather than striving to adopt elaborate routines.

 

What’s more, other research indicates that healthy habits can take up to six weeks to become ingrained—and that treating yourself to small rewards can help motivate you to stick with those positive changes.

Repeating Your 7-Day Detox Diet

 

Proponents of detox diets often recommend cleansing several times a year to improve your health and prevent disease. When repeating your detox, try integrating different eating patterns and actions than you did on your last diet. Testing out new wellness strategies during your seven-day detox diet can give you powerful clues on how to achieve optimal health all year round.

A Word From Verywell

 

A seven-day detox diet isn’t appropriate for all people. If you have a chronic health condition such as liver disease, diabetes, cancer, kidney disease, or an eating disorder, it’s crucial to consult your doctor before modifying your diet.

 

If you have any concerns about making changes to your dietary regimen, talk to your physician to determine whether a seven-day detox diet is right for you.

 

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

t sweating pulls electrolytes and trace minerals from your body, so it’s important to drink a lot of fluids and get plenty of salt (preferably Himalayan pink salt or another mineral-rich natural salt) if you’re going to use a sauna to detox.[10]

 

2) Exercise to flush toxins

 

Regular exercise is another way to flush toxins from your body, and through more than just making you sweat. Exercise increases lipolysis (the breakdown of fat tissue), releasing toxins stored in your fat tissue. Lipolysis is especially effective when you combine it with liver and kidney support or adsorbents that can suck up the released toxins. This article fo

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