4 Easy Habits To Detox Your Body Every Single Day, Backed By An MD
Detoxing deserves a total rebrand. For so long, we've associated the term "detox" with juice cleanses, restrictive diets, and the like, but according to board-certified internal medicine doctor Vivian Chen, M.D. (aka Dr. Viv), detoxing isn't about limiting your body—rather, you should focus on what you're putting inside your system. "The body needs you to nourish it in order to detox effectively," she says on this episode of the mindbodygreen podcast. See, your body naturally works on detoxification all day long, but certain habits can aid the process.
In addition to nutrient-dense diets, little habits can help you detox every single day. Below, Chen offers her nonnegotiable tips:
First things first: "You've got to poop," Chen says. "Poop is such an important exit pathway for toxins." See, your liver may break down various toxins you encounter, but those toxins are then sent to the gut to be eliminated. "If you're not pooping, these toxins are reabsorbed back into the body, so you're not actually detoxing at all," Chen explains.
It's a mistake Chen sees all the time: People become enamored with "liver detoxes" and the like, but only a few actually target gut health. If you're constipated or have an unhealthy balance of bacteria, she notes, you may be sabotaging your body's natural detoxification process.
Even if you are pooping regularly, make sure you're pooping properly. "Your poop needs to look like a long sausage," Chen explains. "If it's [rabbit-like], if it's not formed, if it's watery, there's something going on in your gut. You've got to work on your gut health first before you do anything else." Here, find our full guide to getting rid of constipation.
Exercise is also essential for detoxification, as moving your body improves circulation and stimulates the lymphatic system, which essentially acts like a giant drainage system for your body. "It actually helps carry toxins away from the cell into our detox organs and then carry them to the exit pathways," Chen notes.
Now, your lymphatic system doesn't have a "pump," unlike your circulatory system. "So if you don't move your body, the fluid in the lymph is stagnant. It doesn't move, so now toxins are not moving to where they should be, and you are not detoxifying," Chen adds.
Exercise manually "pumps" this lymphatic system and gets things flowing, which is why Chen recommends incorporating exercise "snacks" into your every day. "You don't need to go out and do two hours of workouts. Every hour, just do jumping jacks for a minute or something like that," she says. "Get up every hour and move your body in whatever way you can."
"One of the most important inhibitors of detoxification is stress," Chen says. "Unless your nervous system is in a balanced state, no matter what you do, the body cannot heal." Tackling stress is so important, she says, that she might even bump it up to tip No. 1 (yes, above pooping properly!).
"When you are stressed out, your detox pathways are actually downregulated," she adds. You see, when you're in a stressful situation, your body jumps into survival mode and diverts energy and resources away from processes like detoxification and to your muscles to help you 'run from the threat,'" so to speak.
Of course, tackling stress is much easier said than done—and we do have some helpful stress-relieving tips and supplements for you to test—but try your best to find what eases your mind. "That's actually the first step," says Chen.
Red light therapy.
Finally, we have red light therapy, which enhances your mitochondrial health. A little background: Your mitochondria are basically cellular batteries that provide energy for basically every function in your body—including your detoxification processes. "One of the ways toxins sabotage detox pathways and cause symptoms is by damaging the mitochondria," Chen explains.
That's where red light therapy comes into play: "Our mitochondria have these antennas that pick up light. And when it picks up the light, it activates processes inside mitochondria to then produce more ATP, the energy currency," Chen continues. "When we provide mitochondria with light, it can actually mitigate some of that dampening from our environmental stressors." As a result, the therapy can help with wound healing1, skin health2, chronic pain3, and more.
You can read more about the full-body benefits of red light therapy here and check out our favorite red light therapy devices. Chen is partial to LUMEBOX, the portable, versatile device she created herself. "I use it on my face in the morning for [healthy] aging," she notes. "And then I also use it throughout the day for joint pain."
Detoxification happens naturally, but the process can slow for a variety of reasons: stress, poor gut health, stagnant lymph, etc. By practicing Chen's daily tips above, you can help keep the process smooth and steady—and if you want to go the extra mile, snag one of these liver detox supplements.
We hope you enjoy this episode sponsored by Nerdwallet! And don't forget to subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or Amazon Music!
Jason Wachob is the Founder and Co-CEO of mindbodygreen and the author of Wellth. He has been featured in the New York Times, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, and Vogue, and has a B.A. in history from Columbia University, where he played varsity basketball for four years.