One hears more and more often about detoxification or detox. The trend towards detoxification through unusual juice cleanses, fasting periods and diets is being promoted above all in alternative medicine in order to combat dizziness, intestinal problems and headaches, among other things. The human body naturally has a sophisticated detoxification system, which raises the question of whether additional detoxification is necessary at all.
In this post, we will educate you about the body's natural detoxification process and the detoxification trend of recent years. In addition, we give you valuable tips on how you can support and protect your detoxification organs and barriers in the long term.
the essentials in brief
- Detoxification is the body's natural process of filtering and eliminating toxins. Through various inner and outer protective barriers of the human organism, which are supposed to stop the penetration of toxins.
- A sufficiently detoxified body is able to go through all the regenerating processes of the body, such as blood formation and cell regeneration. In recent years, detoxification has become a trend. Juice cleanses, superfoods and dietary supplements became particularly popular with this movement.
- Many detoxification regimens are just an adjunct to the natural detoxification process and organs. A healthy lifestyle can maintain the body's detoxification function.
Detox: What you should know
All life processes in the body are determined by two fundamental processes. The absorption and utilization of living substances, such as food, water, and also the air to breathe, are necessary for the maintenance of cell and organ processes. At the same time, toxic substances and metabolic products should be neutralized and sorted out.
If one of these processes does not work properly, the immune system becomes weak, which can lead to diseases and allergic reactions.
What is detoxification?
The elimination of toxic deposits in the body is called detoxification. Humans have an excellent detoxification system.
Pollutants are prevented from penetrating the organism by the natural protective barriers. These protective barriers can be divided into two systems:
|external protective barriers||sneeze reflex and the skin|
|internal protective barriers||liver and kidneys|
The outer protective layer of the human organism is the first enemy of pathogens and other pollutants and toxins. If they do manage to penetrate the body, the so-called detoxification organs come into play. The main internal detoxification organs are the liver, kidneys and lymphatic system. (1)
A detoxification, or detoxification, relieves the detoxification organs by potentiating their function and removing toxins from the body. The body's detoxification process ensures that the regenerative processes, such as blood formation and cell renewal, run smoothly and undisturbed.
In order to clearly recognize whether or when and how you should carry out a detox, you should first have some background information and a certain basis.
That's why we've compiled the most frequently asked questions for you and made them easy to understand.
When is it important to detoxify the body?
Basically, the human body is able to carry out the detoxification process independently and automatically without any problems. Sometimes, however, there are blockages or the absorption of a particularly large number of toxins, which means that natural detoxification is slowed down or difficult to take place.
Daily environmental pollution and high stress levels can cause the detoxification system to go haywire. In addition, due to industrial agriculture and the associated pollution in food, we ingest toxins through our diet.
The combination of an unhealthy lifestyle, lack of exercise, stress and environmental pollution could mean you need to support your natural detoxification system.
In addition to detoxification against the strain on the detoxification organs, there are also so-called detoxification cures, which are used preventively to relieve the body of one's own needs. Such supportive detoxifications can be particularly helpful when the burden on the detoxification organs is foreseeably increasing. This applies to weight reduction, but also an unhealthy diet over a longer period of time, such as the holidays.
What can hinder the body's natural detoxification?
The natural detoxification process of the human organism can be disrupted or interrupted for a variety of reasons. These can be attributed to both mental and physical triggers. These include, among others:
- Nutritional deficiencies, such as vitamin and mineral deficiencies
- intestinal disorders
- lack of exercise
- root-treated teeth
- and chronic stress.
How do I know my body needs a detox?
There are a variety of symptoms that can indicate a blockage of the detoxification organs. Symptoms of insufficient detoxification include:
- Sleep disorders,
- tiredness and exhaustion,
- skin problems such as eczema and neurodermatitis,
- difficulty concentrating
- and digestive problems.
However, these symptoms are very general and could indicate other ailments as well. You should see your doctor if you have persistent symptoms.
A feeling of lack of energy and motivation problems are also attributed to insufficient detoxification. (Image source: Louis Hansel / Unsplash)
How do external detox treatments work?
The skin is the human body's most important external protective barrier. With damaged skin, unwanted substances can penetrate the organism much more quickly. It is therefore very important to support the regeneration of the skin barrier in the event of injuries and disorders in order to support the body's detoxification processes.
Good skin care may need to adapt to the changing seasons, as most people tend to have drier skin in winter which, when cracked, encourages the entry of pollutants. You should also wear sunscreen all year round to prevent further skin problems.
There are also certain detoxification processes that support the skin as an elimination organ. These are mostly building blocks that strengthen skin health.
The effects of external detoxification treatments cannot compensate for internal detoxification as they only support the body's first layer of protection against pollutants.
How do internal detoxification treatments work?
The most obvious form of internal detoxification is a change in diet. Juice and smoothie regimens intended to replace meals are becoming more and more popular, but switching to a diet high in fruit and vegetables is also possible.
The diets are designed to introduce foods with fewer pollutants into the diet, thereby reducing the intake of pollutants from the outside, which in turn relieves the detoxification organs.
In addition, food additives that have antibacterial and antibiotic properties can be taken. Such additives are antioxidants that support and boost detoxification. Antioxidants include vitamins, but also so-called superfoods, such as chlorella algae, which bind pollutants and thus remove them from the body. (2)
What medical procedures are used for detoxification?
Therapeutic measures can improve the elimination of harmful substances and detoxification. Medical procedures occasionally used for detoxification include:
- and homeopathy.
In addition, dietary changes are also recommended by doctors, which stimulate the metabolism and the work of the detoxification organs through a targeted supply of micronutrients and medication.
When does it make sense to carry out a medical detoxification?
Detoxification can also help with rehabilitation after medical treatment, for example to get the toxins from an anesthetic out of the body.
Basically, detoxification as a form of diet or change in diet is also recommended by doctors for complaints and stress in the digestive tract. (3)
In the case of mild symptoms without recognizable causes, the procedures described above can also be prescribed by the doctor, as they are generally intended to have a relaxing and balancing effect.
Your doctor will probably not order fancy detoxification cures, as they are often described on the Internet, since they are usually not scientifically refuted and have no advantages over a healthy lifestyle.
Which home remedies have a detoxifying effect?
You can also get the body’s natural detoxification process going with home remedies. To relieve the detoxification organs, you can use the following home remedies:
|oil pulling||The ancient Ayurvedic method of oil pulling is used to flush pollutants and malicious microorganisms out of the body. (4) To do this, rinse your mouth for 20 minutes with a native, cold-pressed oil, such as coconut oil.|
|Cold water in the morning||Drinking water after getting up stimulates the metabolism. During the night you lose parts of the body's fluid reserves. By filling these up, the detoxification organs are supported.|
|wild herbs||If you want to support the detoxification process with the power of nature, you can use wild herbs that stimulate bile production and enhance kidney function. The local nettles and dandelion, which you can take as tea and in a salad, are particularly good for this. Coriander is also said to reduce the accumulation of harmful substances in the liver. (5)|
|dietary supplements||Similar to the intake of wild herbs, other dietary supplements can also support the function of the detoxification organs. Vitamins C, D and E in particular support detoxification, which is often disrupted by a vitamin deficiency, but magnesium and iron can also be helpful and have a balancing effect on the organism.|
|Fast||There are many variations of fasting. You can either eat nothing but water, eat veggies and broths for a day, or go on a juice cleanse. Fasting adds no, or fewer, pollutants to the body than your general diet, allowing the detoxification organs to process previously ingested toxins without input.|
What should you consider when using home remedies for detoxification?
Information about the healing effects of home remedies is widespread, but often not scientifically refuted in connection with detoxification.
For example, there is research that says magnesium can help treat cluster headaches, so it's reasonable to assume that it may also help alleviate symptoms of insufficient detoxification. However, a direct effect against insufficient detoxification cannot be proven. (6)
Basically, a healthy lifestyle makes additional detoxification unnecessary, and many methods of detoxification only support a healthy lifestyle.
What alternatives are there to classic detoxification treatments?
Now you have learned a lot about the human detoxification system and possible supportive detoxification measures. In the following we would like to introduce you to some alternatives to the classic detoxification measures.
In addition to supportive strengthening through diets, specific nutritional supplements and detox cures, you can also promote the function of your detoxification organs in the long term with a healthy lifestyle.
In the following we want to introduce you to the most important factors of a healthy lifestyle and their influence on your detoxification system.
The best way to control your detoxification system starts with your diet. A good diet strengthens your body's internal defenses and thus the function of your detoxification organs.
A large number of foods support the detoxification process by building up the intestinal flora and digestive tract. High-fiber foods such as whole grain products, nuts and berries are able to bind and eliminate toxins in the intestine.
Basically, the average person is recommended to eat a serving of fruits and vegetables 3-5 times a day, drink more water and consume less sugar.
A balanced diet supports the natural human detoxification system. (Image Source: Brooke Lark / Unsplash)
An unbalanced sleep-wake cycle can lead to disorders of the entire organism. (7)
Sleep deprivation can result in detoxification processes being impeded. If you don't feel rested after sleep, then your immune system is weakening and your detoxification organs have to work harder. There is insufficient detoxification.
Sleep is particularly important for the detoxification process, as the body eliminates toxins more intensively overnight than when it is awake.
An adult usually needs 7 hours of sleep per night. However, this number cannot be transferred to everyone. If you don't feel rested in the morning, you should increase your sleep duration and reconsider your sleep situation.
Sport is an excellent balance to normal everyday life. Exercise gets the digestive tract and the rest of the detoxification organs going.
An increased respiratory rate and sweat production supports the elimination of toxins and stimulates the metabolism, which benefits the liver, kidneys and intestines.
Endurance sports such as jogging, cycling and swimming are particularly good for getting the circulation going. However, a short walk a day is enough to build your stamina.
Chronic stress leads to a restricted immune system and thus to a poorer defense against harmful substances. This hinders the detoxification process and has been shown to cause problems with the digestive tract. (8th)
In order to prevent this, since a disturbed intestinal flora and intestinal wall lead to an increased absorption of pollutants, you should not only pay attention to the detoxification of the body, but also detoxify mentally.
Breathing exercises, yoga, and meditation are just a few activities that can have a relaxing effect. In the case of short-term stress, it is often enough to breathe out and in, drink a cup of tea, or listen to soothing music.
Brief moments of rest during everyday life can benefit the detoxification process and ensure a balanced immune system. (Image source: Arten Kovalev / Unsplash)
Sauna sessions are also an excellent way to rid the body of harmful substances and toxins. The increased temperatures in saunas increase sweat production and purify the skin pores. This stimulates the outer detoxification barriers. When the body temperature rises, fat cells are also stimulated and water retention is released. (9)
Alternatives to the detox trend are the equivalent of a healthy lifestyle.
The detox trend can generally lead to a better awareness of healthy eating and a balanced lifestyle. However, you must be aware that your body has an inherently nuanced detoxification system, which is normally balanced and may be subject to fluctuations due to external influences. (10)
Accordingly, a detox cure or other supposedly detoxifying measures are not enough to maintain the body's detoxification tract, as this requires a more holistic approach. Your detoxification system is healthy when your body and mind are healthy.
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- Uchikawa T, Yasutake A, Kumamoto Y, Maruyama I, Kumamoto S, & Ando Y (2010). The influence of Parachlorella beyerinckii CK-5 on the absorption and excretion of methylmercury (MeHg) in mice.
- Suzuki H, Nishizawa T, Tsugawa H, Mogami S, & Hibi T (2011). Roles of oxidative stress in stomach disorders.
- Naseem M, Khiyani MF, Nauman H, Zafar MS, Shah AH, & Khalil HS (2017). Oil pulling and importance of traditional medicine in oral health maintenance.
- Ren H, Jia H, Kim S, Maita M, Sato S, Yasui M, ... & Hayashi T (2006). Effect of Chinese parsley Coriandrum sativum and chitosan on inhibiting the accumulation of cadmium in cultured rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss.
- Mauskop, A., Altura, BT, Cracco, RQ, & Altura, BM (1995). Intravenous magnesium sulfate relieves cluster headaches in patients with low serum ionized magnesium levels.
- Zulley, J (2014). Biological rhythms, sleep and jet lag.
- Klein, A.V., & Kiat, H. (2015). Detox diets for toxin elimination and weight management: a critical review of the evidence.
- Laukkanen, JA, Laukkanen, T., & Kunutsor, SK (2018, August). Cardiovascular and other health benefits of sauna bathing: a review of the evidence.
- Cohen, M. (2007). 'Detox': science or sales pitch?