Detoxification is a popular topic these days, and for good reason, as we are constantly exposed to environmental toxins that have a negative influence on our health. Unfortunately, many people don’t know where to start with detoxification, or are overwhelmed from the number of different cleanses and protocols out there. Additionally, detoxification is something that must be done properly and with care, or else we run the risk of actually harming our health instead of improving it.
To help you get a better understanding of detoxification, we’ve created this comprehensive guide. We’ve also crafted a unique line of doctor-formulated Detox Supplements that are gentle on the body, but effective for detoxification, and focus on cleansing and purifying the body using only natural ingredients.
In this article, we will discuss:
- Common Sources of Toxins
- The Body’s Organs of Detoxification
- The Need for Cleansing
- Different Types of Cleanses & How to Pick the Right Cleanse
- Detox Reactions
- What to Do After a Cleanse
- Resources for Further Reading
What is Detoxification?
Simply put, Detoxification, or detox, refers to the process of removing toxins from the body. Toxins may enter the body from a number of sources—including the food we eat, the water we drink, the air we breathe, the personal care products we use, the utensils we cook and eat with, and so on. When toxins accumulate in the body, it creates what is known as a toxic load.
Toxic load refers to the accumulation of toxins and chemicals in our bodies that we ingest from a variety of sources. Each person has a different toxic load based on the amount of toxins accumulated in their body. The goal of detoxification is to eliminate toxins from the body and to reduce our toxic load, improving our health in the process.
Common Sources of Toxins
Toxins are everywhere. We are exposed to them constantly, and they are much more prevalent than one might think. Let’s explore some of the major toxins that we are regularly exposed to:
- Pathogenic bacteria such as Giardia and E.coli
- Toxic heavy metals like:
- Toxic calcium
- Pharmaceuticals and drugs like:
- Birth control medication
- Blood pressure medications
- Hormone medications
- Prescription amphetamines
- Recreation drugs
- Sleeping pills
- Thyroid medications
- Chemicals in domestic products like:
- Aerosol can air fresheners
- Cologne and aftershave
- Conventional cleaning products
- Conventional hair dye
- Conventional laundry detergent, fabric softener and dryer sheets
- Conventional makeup
- Conventionally scented body lotions, creams, sprays, washes, deodorants, shampoos, conditioners, gels and other hair or body products
- Dry cleaning chemicals
- Nail polishes and polish removers
- Plug-in air fresheners
- Scented candles
- Spray tan
- Spray-bottle air fresheners and mists
- Talcum powder
- Chemical Neuroantagonists like:
- Chemical fertilizers
- Other pesticides
- Smoke exposure of any kind
- Petrochemicals like:
- Carpet chemicals
- Chemical solvents
- Diesel fuel
- Engine oil and grease
- Exhaust fumes
- Lighter fluid
- Paint thinner
There are others, but hopefully this makes it clear just how many toxins we are exposed to. They are a part of so many products and materials in our society that they are near impossible to avoid. We can certainly focus on using more natural alternatives to many harmful products, but even still, we are exposed to many toxins on a daily basis.
It is important to be aware of this so we can know how to best protect ourselves. Aside from being diligent about the products we use and consume, we must also pay close attention to our food. Food can be the greatest source of healing, or the greatest source of disease, depending on what foods we consume.
It is important to know what foods and supplements can help you detox and remove toxins, and to try to include more of these foods and supplements in your daily diet. Taking time to do a few dedicated detox cleanses is also a great thing to do a few times each year for deeper cleansing.
The Detoxification Organs of the Body
Our body already has many organs and systems dedicated to detoxification—such as the liver, kidneys, gut, skin, and lymphatic system. These organs are vital to our health, and are working constantly to fight off the toxins that we ingest. Unfortunately, if these organs are overwhelmed with toxins, their function becomes impaired, and as a result, more toxins are able to bypass them and enter our system.
For this reason, one of the greatest ways to support the body’s detoxification is to focus on detoxifying and restoring the health of the liver and other detox organs. This can be done with certain dietary and lifestyle factors, as well as through utilizing certain superfoods known for their incredible detox benefits.
Detoxification and The Liver
Detoxification is mainly carried out by the liver, as everything that we consume is first filtered through the liver. The liver performs over 500 tasks, with the neutralization and detoxification of toxic substances being one of its primary roles. Unfortunately, the liver may become overwhelmed if our toxic load is too high. This can lead to improper liver function, which can result in a number of negative health effects such as high blood pressure/high cholesterol, low energy, poor metabolism, and excess weight gain among other ailments.
One of the greatest ways to support the body’s detoxification is to focus on detoxifying and restoring the health of the liver. This can be done with certain dietary and lifestyle factors, as well as through utilizing herbal remedies for liver detoxification such as our Liver Detox Tonic.
The most important factor for any form of detoxification is to avoid toxic substances in the first place. It is not possible to truly detox if we keep “re-toxing,” so do your best to educate yourself on what you consume, and avoid substances that are filled with toxic chemicals and preservatives or grown with pesticides and genetically modified ingredients.
The body has a natural tendency toward healing and repairing itself when it is no longer affected by harmful toxins and is given the proper nutrients to heal. It is important that you nourish your body with the proper nutrients during or after a detox depending on the type of detox that you do.
The Need for Cleansing
Many of us do not lead healthy lifestyles. It is an unfortunate fact that we are living in the most diseased society in history. Never before have rates of illness been so high, even while medical technology is at its most advanced.
The problem is, the general public is not educated properly about health, health is not a primary value for the majority of people in our modern society and culture, and large companies selling toxic products have extensive marketing resources and influence to promote unhealthy foods and products as an accepted norm.
Perhaps the biggest problem of all, though, is that people do not take responsibility for their own health, and are not willing to change the habits that are making them sick. It is far easier to give into every craving than to make conscious dietary choices—especially when so many are addicted to sugar and other chemicals in food.
Hippocrates, known as the “father of modern medicine,” was a Greek physician that was instrumental in establishing the system of medicine used in the West today. Doctors, to this day, swear the Hippocratic oath before entering into their medical profession.
Hippocrates once said, “before you heal someone, ask him if he's willing to give up the things that make him sick.” This quote points out an important fact: we cannot heal unless we give up the foods, habits, beliefs, media, lifestyle choices, and environments that contribute to our illness. If we wish to heal, then we ourselves need to be responsible for our healing.
We can of course refer to the guidance and wisdom of healthcare professionals, but we also need to get familiar with our own bodies, make wise choices for our health, and be mindful of our habits and how they affect us. We cannot just live ignorant of our health and trust that the doctor will always fix us.
There are far too many factors working against our health. We are exposed to things that our ancestors never even dreamed of. It has never been more important for us to take responsibility for our own health, and to educate ourselves on what is harmful and what is beneficial to our well-being.
Doing a detox cleanse is a great place to start taking your health back into your own hands. When we do a detox cleanse, we are removing toxic substances stored in our body (toxic load), and we are helping our organs restore and heal by doing so. Once toxins are out of the way, the body can begin to heal itself—with the support of a healthy diet and lifestyle, of course.
Hippocrates famously said that, “natural forces within us are the true healers of disease.” The body has an innate intelligence that is always seeking to restore balance. Every organ and system is constantly working to achieve homeostasis. We often interfere with this process due to our constant consumption of toxins, but the removal of toxins helps the body bring itself back into balance.
Another great tip from the father of modern medicine is to: “let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.” The food we eat can either be the greatest healing force, or the greatest illness source. What your food will be for you depends on the dietary choices you make each and every day.
Most of us are in desperate need of detoxification. We have had toxins storing in our bodies, organs and tissues for years—even decades—and they have not only hindered the proper function of important body systems (especially liver, kidneys, adrenal glands, and gut), but they have also attracted a host of harmful organisms like parasites, Candida and pathogenic bacteria.
Through detoxification we can change our inner environment from one of toxicity to one of true health. Consider for a moment just how many toxins you have ingested over the years. If you are reading this, it is likely that you are becoming much more conscious of your health, but even so, you come into contact with toxins on a frequent basis.
We hope that when we consume a toxin our body will process it and we’ll be fine. Thankfully this is often the case. However, the body does not process it all, especially if our detox organs have become compromised or overworked. A detox cleanse is necessary to dig deeper and to remove these stored toxins so we can restore our body’s health—and there are many cleanses that help us accomplish this.
Different Types of Cleanses & How to Pick the Right Cleanse
There are many different types of cleanses and the cleanse that you take should match your intentions and motivations for cleansing. If you are focused on getting rid of parasites, for example, then a parasite detox cleanse is the obvious choice. If you want to remove the build-up of heavy metals, then a heavy metal cleanse is the way to go.
If you are just looking for a general, whole-body cleanse then cutting out toxic foods, eating more natural and organic whole foods—especially plant-based—eating moderate portions, drinking plenty of water, and getting moderate sleep and exercise can be a great place to start. Any kind of change in your diet like this will likely bring on some of its own cleansing benefits.
Also, just because a cleanse may be more focused on one area, it doesn’t mean its benefits are limited to that. For example, a liver cleanse focuses on cleansing the liver, but the liver is so connected to the body as a whole (as is every other organ) that cleansing the liver can also help to restore gut health, remove heavy metals, and kill parasites and pathogenic bacteria.
To know what cleanse is right for you, consider what your motivations are for cleansing. If you want to just give your body a rest, try a simpler and broader cleanse. If you have a specific intention for your cleanse, such as getting rid of Candida, then opt for the more specific cleanse to accomplish your detox goals.
A colon cleanse is a great cleanse to start with. The average person has 5-20 pounds of excess waste stored in their colon. Flushing this out can be incredibly healing to your gut and digestive system. A typical colon cleanse involves drinking a lot of water and enhancing your fiber intake (often utilizing supplements like psyllium husks or ground chia seeds). It also focuses on eating whole-foods and increasing your intake of leafy greens and foods rich in chlorophyll—a compound in green plants that is high in magnesium and has many gut-healing benefits.
A parasite cleanse involves getting rid of toxic parasites in the gut. The average person has up to 30 different types of parasites living in their body. Once there they can lay millions of eggs in our intestines, colon, and organs. These unwanted bugs can wreak havoc on our health. If you’re suffering from gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, or other digestive issues, it could be caused by parasites. Doing a parasite cleanse involves taking a parasite detox supplement with a binder and some other synergistic products, here is our Zuma Nutrition Parasite Detox protocol.
A candida cleanse focuses on eliminating Candida overgrowth. Candida infections are the most common and persistent fungal infections in the world. They often go undiagnosed, and most people that have a Candida infection are usually unaware of it. If left untreated, Candida infections can spread to the bloodstream and cause serious diseases which affect the blood, heart, brain, eyes, bones, and more. Cleansing Candida is a very involved process that requires eliminating sugar and problematic foods from the diet, taking a Candida Cleanse tonic and following a Candida detox protocol.
A liver cleanse is an excellent cleanse that nearly everyone can benefit from, as the liver is such an important organ for our health. Doing a liver cleanse involves cutting out things that are hard on the liver—especially alcohol, drugs and fatty foods—eating liver-healing foods, and supplementing with liver-supporting herbs like the ones in our Liver Detox & Support formula.
Heavy Metal Detox Cleanse
A heavy metal cleanse focuses on removing toxic heavy metals from the body—which, unfortunately, all of us are exposed to on a regular basis. These microscopic metal particles can be quite toxic to our health, especially if they build up over time. To get rid of them, it is important to use a supplement like Zeolite and/or Fulvic Acid , as they have powerful chelating properties that enable them to chemically bind to heavy metals and help the body remove them. Drinking a lot of water is also important for helping flush the system. Eating certain foods like chlorella, spirulina, cilantro, barley grass juice powder, and wild blueberries can also be very helpful for detoxing heavy metals.
A juice cleanse involves consuming only vegetable and fruit juices (as well as water) for a certain period of time, usually ranging from a few days to a few weeks. This type of cleanse is great for giving the digestive system a break, helping the body flush out toxins, and also providing easily absorbable nutrients to the body. It is best done short term; however some people have received great benefit from extended juice cleanses, but its recommended to have medical supervision for extended fasts.
A water fast is by far the most restrictive cleanse. It involves only drinking water for days or weeks at a time. If done improperly, a water fast can be very dangerous. If done properly, it can be incredibly healing. It is safe for nearly anyone to do a water fast for up to 3 days, but longer than that, it is recommended to have medical supervision. There are many centers that offer extended fasts with on-site doctors.
A mono cleanse involves eating only one food for a period of time, typically for one week to a month. This type of cleanse is said to make it easy for the digestive system, giving it a rest, and focusing on getting nutrition from just one food source. It is important for anyone doing a mono cleanse to choose a food source that is nutritious and easy to digest. Common food choices for mono cleanses include kitchari (a type of Indian porridge including rice and lentils), banana, butternut squash, Brussels sprouts.
A dietary cleanse is a cleanse that is focused only on diet, and not on specific intentions like removing parasites or heavy metals—though this may also occur through a dietary shift. The change in diet will depend upon where you are at. People eating a standard American diet, for example, can benefit and cleanse from doing a plant-based diet for a period of time. Someone on a plant-based diet may benefit and cleanse from eating only raw foods for a period of time. The idea is to remove foods and substances that are toxic or harmful, and to focus on eating healing foods, ultimately with the goal of making our diet more healthy and natural overall.
During a detox cleanse, it’s important to be aware of the possibility of experiencing a detox reaction, often referred to as a Herx reaction. Following cleanses like a parasite detox cleanse, candida cleanse, heavy metal cleanse, colon cleanse, fasting, etc. may trigger certain reactions in the body, such as headache, tiredness, fatigue, changes in bowel movements, irritability, mood swings, and skin breakouts.
This may be alarming to some, especially if they aren’t aware of what a detox reaction is, but it is important to understand that a detox reaction is not a bad thing. In fact, it is a positive sign that your body is in fact detoxing. However, if the detoxification symptoms are too intense or causing severe discomfort, it is advised to slow down the rate of detoxification by cutting back on the cleansing methods that are triggering the reaction.
For example, if one is doing a parasite cleanse, and taking too high of doses of a parasite detox supplement, they may experience more symptoms as a result of their intense detoxification. To reduce the uncomfortable symptoms, one needs to slow the rate of detoxification. This could be accomplished by reducing the dose of the parasite detox supplement, alternating days, or taking a short break to let the body heal and reduce the symptoms naturally before resuming the cleanse.
A detox reaction occurs because toxins that were being stored in the body in some way—whether they were stored in fatty tissue, organs, or inside of toxic microorganisms—are now re-entering the bloodstream to be processed and eliminated from the body. In other words, toxins that were dormant somewhere in the body are now being circulated again, and the body may react to this if too many toxins enter the circulation at once.
To read more about detox reactions and how to manage them, read our article: Herx Reaction: Gut Die Off Side Effect and How to Avoid.
What to Do After a Cleanse
A detox cleanse is focused on removing—getting rid of toxins, parasites, pathogens, etc. After removing, we need to focus on reintroducing nourishing foods and habits back into our life. Some cleanses can be quite restrictive, and depending on how intensive the cleanse is, it may even cause more than normal loss of fat and muscle. If you undergo a cleanse like this, it is absolutely essential that you focus on building your body back to ideal health.
Many people run the mistake of focusing too much on detoxification and not enough on nutrition. Both are important. A detox cleanse is something you should undergo with intention and do for a short period of time. Nutrition, however, is something we should focus on all the time—with the exception of some short-term restrictive cleanses.
Detoxification is an important part of taking care of our health—especially in the 21st century. Hopefully, with the information in this article, you can make a more informed and empowered approach to detoxification and to taking control of your own health.
To read more on detoxification, check out some of our other articles for further reading: