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16 Signs It's Time For A Detox

William Cole, IFMCP, DNM, D.C.
September 26, 2017
William Cole, IFMCP, DNM, D.C.
Functional Medicine Practitioner
By William Cole, IFMCP, DNM, D.C.
Functional Medicine Practitioner
Will Cole, IFMCP, DNM, D.C., is a leading functional medicine practitioner with a certification in natural medicine and a doctor of chiropractic degree.
September 26, 2017

The concept of detoxing is certainly not a new one. If you immerse yourself in the wellness world, even just a little bit, you quickly become aware of the hundreds of different ways to cleanse your body. From juice cleanses to Whole30 to sipping bone broth—there’s a detox out there that will tickle your fancy.

With our world growing increasingly toxic, the question is not if you should do a detox; it's when. So start listening to your body, and if you are experiencing any one of these, it's a sign that it’s time to start your detox method of choice:

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1. You crave sugar often.

Insatiable cravings are a huge sign that something is off. A diet filled with processed foods can put your blood sugar and leptin hormones on a roller-coaster ride leaving you begging for more junk. Doing a detox and focusing on whole, clean food sources will get those hormones back on track by providing your body with the nutrients that are currently lacking.

2. You have digestive distress.

This is one of the most obvious signs that you need a complete diet overhaul, and a detox can do just that. Constipation, diarrhea, bloating, and gas are not only uncomfortable; they're the last things that should be happening if everything is functioning the way it should be. Hit the reset button with a detox and give your gut a break!

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3. "Seasonal" allergies are a regular occurrence.

If you have a weak gut microbiome, you’ll also have a weak immune system. And since your sinuses are just an extension of your digestive system, it makes sense that gut health and chronic allergies would go hand in hand.

4. You eat healthy but don't feel healthy.

Maintaining a clean diet doesn't mean you never need to detox; even the healthiest foods can aggravate and flare a person up. Eliminating certain foods for a period of time can give your gut and the rest of your body a break. Detoxing can also fuel your body with powerful superfoods that can help eliminate harmful toxins that build up over time and contribute to health problems.

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5. Your skin isn't clear.

Toxin and chemical buildup doesn’t do us any favors when it comes to the health and appearance of our skin. An overload of toxins can hinder the function of your liver (which is your body’s main detoxifying organ) and lead to buildup. Since your skin is also responsible for eliminating waste through sweat, all those problems can creep up to the surface in the form of acne, rashes, and inflammation.

6. You are constantly fatigued.

Persistent fatigue may be a deeper problem, also known as adrenal fatigue. This occurs when your brain and adrenal glands are not communicating well due to elevated cortisol levels because of toxin buildup, stress, inflammation, or microbiome imbalances.

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7. You feel foggy.

If you lack the ability to focus or struggle to remember various details on a regular basis, you're dealing with brain fog. When your body can’t eliminate toxins fast enough, they build up in your body and increase inflammation. Too much inflammation damages your protective blood-brain barrier and leads to "leaky brain syndrome." A detox can start to flush out toxins to relieve the inflammatory oxidative stress in the hypothalamus of the brain so you can finally start thinking more clearly.

8. You are experiencing regular joint pain.

Chronic ongoing inflammation can do a number on your muscles and joints. If you are constantly sore, stiff, and achy—especially if you aren’t pushing yourself at the gym—it's a big red flag for inflammation.

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9. You're constantly stressed.

Not all detoxes need to be food-based. Stress is a huge contributing factor to all sorts of health issues and can even trigger autoimmune conditions and bigger mental health problems like depression. While a food-related cleanse can also be fantastic to help relieve the physical contributors to stress, sometimes you just need to put outside stimuli on mute and recharge your mental state.

10. The idea of a detox makes you want to cry.

If just the thought of having to give up your current eating style makes you want to cry, you may be dealing with an unhealthy emotional attachment to your food. Instead of looking at food as essential fuel for a healthy body, it can be used as either a reward or punishment. Doing a detox can be one way to see if your eating habits have emotional roots, and only then can you start to identify your relationship with food and begin to take steps forward.

11. You are struggling with your weight.

I always tell my patients, "We need to get healthy to lose weight, not lose weight to get healthy." Your microbiome is a vast collection of all different strains of bacteria, and without the proper balance of good bacteria, bad bacteria starts to take over, and this leads to big problems like inflammation and a slowed metabolism. Take a time-out and start healing your gut.

12. Your hormones are out of whack.

Adrenal fatigue, low sex drive, menstrual disorders, and weight-loss resistance are all big hormonal problems. Each of these hormonal issues can be traced back to chronic inflammation, which can be due to toxins and other inflammatory foods in your diet.

13. You smell.

You know that expression "You are what you eat"? Well, in this case, you reek what you eat. Your body is always working to eliminate toxins, and body odor is just one sign that your body is trying to cleanse itself. Excessive BO and bad breath are sure signs toxins have reached an unhealthy level. So put down the deodorant stick and pick up some green juice instead!

14. Your sleep patterns are messed up.

Irregular circadian rhythms can be due to underlying hormonal issues like leptin resistance and adrenal fatigue, which I mentioned above. You’ll be getting your full eight hours in no time once you’ve started to bring your inflammation and toxin levels down.

15. You are depressed and anxious.

Lingering feelings of depression and anxiety often stem from inflammation. "Leaky brain" starts to wreak havoc by triggering an inflammatory-autoimmune response against your brain and nervous tissue. When you start to decrease inflammation by cutting things out of your diet you may find that you start to feel a sense of calm.

16. You get cold sores.

Painful cold sores are something that 90 percent of us have had to deal with at least once in our lives, and about 40 percent of people have recurring flare-ups. This is due to the herpes simplex virus HSV-1—not to be confused with the HSV-2 strain that is most associated with the STD genital herpes! Most of the time the virus is dormant in your body, just waiting for an opportunity to strike. When your immune system is weak due to factors like toxins and inflammation, the virus is more likely to activate. So, if you are consistently battling these pesky sores, it's time to boost up your immune system with a detox.

If you answered yes to more than one of these, it's time to do something about it! Instead of doing another fast crash detox, do something sustainable and make your whole life a cleanse.

Check Dr. Cole's best tips for incorporating effective detoxing superfoods.

William Cole, IFMCP, DNM, D.C.
William Cole, IFMCP, DNM, D.C.

Will Cole, IFMCP, DNM, D.C., is a leading functional medicine expert who consults people around the globe, starting one of the first functional medicine telehealth centers in the world. Named one of the top 50 functional and integrative doctors in the nation, Dr. Will Cole provides a functional medicine approach for thyroid issues, autoimmune conditions, hormonal imbalances, digestive disorders, and brain problems. He is the host of the popular The Art Of Being Well podcast and the New York Times bestselling author of Intuitive Fasting, Ketotarian,The Inflammation Spectrum, and the brand new book Gut Feelings: Healing the Shame-Fueled Relationship Between What You Eat and How You Feel.

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