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Detoxing Basics: Cleansing Your Body of Toxic Build Up

Excess consumption, chronic stress, processed foods, environmental chemicals and so much more burden bodies mentally, emotionally, and physically. The practice of seasonal detoxing has been steadily increasing as the link between diet and disease is understood and accepted as a path to healing.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Discover why detoxing is recommended .
  2. Understand the benefits of detoxing.
  3. Review simple whole foods-based detoxing basics.

Detoxing Defined

Detoxing: Removing, neutralizing or transforming accumulated toxic build-up (undigested foods and chemical residue) in the body, burdening internal organs and associated with digestive disrupt, weight gain, cellulite, and increase in poor health and numerous diseases.

Why Detox?

Years of over-consuming processed nutrient-void foods and high sugar beverages, using stimulants and prescription drugs such as NSAIDS and antibiotics result in toxic buildup in the body. Our gastrointestinal (GI) tract is further compromised with invasive high stress lifestyles and constant exposure to toxins in our foods and our environment. An unhealthy gastrointestinal (GI) tract plays a critical role in a wide variety of illnesses including allergies, indigestions, GERD, weight gain, skin disorders, chronic inflammation, mood swings, depression, joint pain, insomnia, fatigue, headaches, a compromised immune system and more.

Rhubarb Strawberry Coconut Creme ParfaitTo utilize the nutrients in our food, healthy digestion, absorption, assimilation, cellular excretion and effective elimination of wastes are integral. This requires expenditure of significant amounts of energy. Author of Alive Magazine’s article in Nourishing the Gastrointestinal Tract, Paul A. Goldberg, MPH, DC says, “to continually eat when the GI tract is not functioning properly is equivalent to exercising with a torn muscle or walking on a broken leg.” (Alive #247, May 2003).

The condition will only worsen without addressing the cause.  Experiencing symptoms such as bloating and cramping, constipation or diarrhea, bladder, kidney and yeast  infections, bad breath and body odor, chronic inflammation, allergy and immune challenges are indicative of the need for cleansing and detoxing.

Detox Benefits

While our bodies are designed to detox naturally via such organs as our lungs, skin, the colon (large intestine), liver, kidneys and lymphatic system, the constant onslaught of everyday toxic exposure causes a built-up of intestinal wastes and organ overload.  When our body doesn’t effectively detox naturally our state of health is compromised.  There are endless types of detox from the very extreme to those that focus on inviting nutrient dense foods in and eliminating over-processed, packaged, refined foods and the top food allergens.  Despite criticism from some on the effectiveness of detoxing the majority of detoxers following such a regime experience numerous health benefits.

Some of the benefits of detox include:

Salmon and Green Veggies Salad

American Dietetic Association Spokesperson Lisa Dorfman, RD, on detox: “Almost everyone needs to detox, cleanse themselves and rest bodily functions at times.”

Detoxing Approaches

Detox isn’t deprivation!
It’s delicious, plant dominant,
nutrient dense, high fiber,
whole foods, in season.

There are numerous options with Detoxing. The body can be detoxified as a whole or specific organs can be targeted (liver, colon, kidney, gall bladder, arteries etc.). It is important to begin with a program that isn’t too rigid if you’ve never followed a detox program. It’s very important to ensure the elimination system is working well to avoid re-ingesting toxins. This means including well-balanced, fiber rich, nutrient dense, whole foods that are cleansing and organ supportive.  The addition of probiotics and digestive enzymes may also be considered.

If our colon is not functioning well and eliminating effectively – ideally a healthy colon eliminates food within six to eighteen hours with two or three bowel movements per day – bacteria and fungi proliferate.  This means health is compromised for toxins will be reabsorbed and contaminate our entire system.

While detoxing cleansing symptoms may occur initially such as:

These symptoms can result as toxins are released at the cellular level for elimination. As the toxins move through the body’s cleansing systems, you may feel worse before you feel better. If you are on a whole foods elimination detox program symptoms are often minimal if any and they usually subside within a few days. It is recommended you consult your health care practitioner or a natural nutritionist for guidance choosing a detox suitable to your present conditions.

Whole Foods Clean Eating Seasonal Detox Basics


(Some detox programs remove all grains as well as nuts however if you prefer to keep these in your regime choose nutrient dense, ancient gluten free varieties such as buckwheat, quinoa, wild rice, teff and amaranth and organic nuts, ideally pre-soaked and drained before consuming).


Adequate hydration is essential:

Augmenting your detox:

Hippocrates, considered the father of modern medicine, said, "All disease begins in the gut.”

The addition of probiotic rich foods and supplements are a great way to augment your gut health.   Cultured and fermented foods are pro-biotic rich and help restore healthy bacteria in your gut.  This augments digestion and assimilation of nutrient and promotes alkalinity.  Supplementing with probiotics such as a multi bacteria strain including Bifidobacterium and Lactobacilli and repopulating the intestines with healthy bacteria counter the excess unhealthy bacteria modern diets feed such as refined, sugar laden foods consumed in excess.  Digestive enzymes and HCI are included in some cleanse programs as well helping improve digestive ability.

In addition to better food choices, be sure to practice health supporting behavior choices (regular exercise, stress management, adequate rest, social connection, etc.).  At all times it’s important to eat regularly and minimize liquid intake during meals to 4 oz maximum. 

Salmon and Green Veggies Salad

Ending the Detox

When ending a detox, it’s important to re-introduce any eliminated foods gradually.

Begin with only one of the eliminated foods at time such as dairy and pay close attention to your body’s response.  Many of the top food allergens such as dairy are not necessary for good health.  You may decide you no longer want to include this in your diet and find plenty of calcium rich foods from the plant kingdom. 

After a few days introduce another of the eliminated foods such as bread/ grains/starches and again journal your body’s responses. Often foods we deemed part of a healthy diet are not appropriate for everyone. Eat foods that support your individual needs for each of us has our own unique body chemistry and digestive ability. 

The whole foods seasonal eating approach described above can become your everyday approach for it is safe, gentle and inexpensive

It is advised to consult your health practitioner or physician before this point or directly after to move onto the next step.

Click here to view the client detox handout.


Encyclopedia of Natural Healing - Siegfried, MH; Zoltan Rona, MD, msc; Alive Research Group

Staying Healthy with Nutrition - Dr Elson Hass; Paul A. Goldberg, MPH, DC / Lisa Dorfman, Registered dietitian and American Dietetic Association spokesperson / Deborah Allen

Natural Choices for Women’s Health – Laurie Steelsmith ND

Great Sites for info: / / /