The longevity conversation is often dominated by diet. And there's no doubt that eating a well-balanced, plant-focused diet is a major key to living a long, healthy life (just take a look at the Blue Zones Diet). But there's a missing piece to that conversation. Ensuring that your body can filter and remove waste is a critical if often overlooked part.
What is natural detoxification?
Natural detoxification is your body's way of eliminating the toxins you've taken in from the air, water, food, and a myriad of other sources. And while environmental stressors are pervasive, our own physiological pathways create biological stressors of their own (think free radicals) while accomplishing day-to-day cellular tasks.
While this physiological system is innately intelligent and is designed to remove toxins and neutralize free radicals efficiently, our modern world is filled with more stressors than ever before. The fact is, supporting the optimal function of our detoxification pathways is essential to whole-body health throughout the life span.
Ways to promote the body's natural detox processes to support a long, healthy life.
According to Deanna Minich, Ph.D., CNS, FACN, IFMCP, functional-medicine-trained clinician and author of Whole Detox, detoxification is vital to whole-body well-being: "If we clear the cellular debris, then the cells can theoretically work better and be more efficient. If the cells are healthy, the tissue will be optimized, which then ultimately supports the entire organism."
On the other hand, Minich explains that environmental toxins burden our bodies on the cellular level. It's important to reduce toxin exposure as much as possible so the body's detox system isn't overloaded with unwanted compounds and free radicals.
Increasing your intake of antioxidants will promote sufficient antioxidant levels and oxidative homeostasis.* Here are other ways to help:
1. Bolster your antioxidant network.
Complex networks of antioxidants neutralize free radicals and modulate cellular oxidative balance throughout the body.* Antioxidants promote detoxification by eliminating free radicals that are a byproduct of the liver's detoxification process, but they also support universal organ function and longevity by combating oxidative stress in cells throughout the entire body.*
One antioxidant (deemed the "master" of all antioxidants, btw) is especially impressive in its ability to combat free radicals (i.e., oxidants): "Glutathione is an endogenously produced antioxidant that can directly detoxify a number of oxidants produced [in the body], as well as oxidants [aka toxins] that we are exposed to from our environment,"* explains Brian Day, Ph.D., professor of medicine at National Jewish Health.
Additionally, glutathione promotes the regeneration of other antioxidants11 (particularly vitamins C and E), which makes it a very powerful actor in detoxification and longevity.* Day suggests adopting an antioxidant-centered, plant-based diet while also considering the utility of a targeted antioxidant supplement to help maintain a healthy redox balance each day.*
2. Support toxin filtering and removal.
While antioxidants are crucial to the detoxification system, the proper functioning of our elimination organs is equally important to our overall well-being and longevity.* By supporting our elimination organs (i.e., the liver, kidneys, skin, lungs, lymph, and colon), we can ensure that toxins are being cleared out efficiently and effectively.
For many, figuring out how to promote an organ's health is a little confusing (after all, you can't see exactly how your liver or kidneys are doing in there, can you?).
Not to fear—here's a quick list of hot health tips for supporting your elimination organs:
- Liver: The liver needs sufficient antioxidant levels to work optimally. Add some leafy greens or cruciferous veggies (e.g., broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage) to your diet, or consider taking an antioxidant-rich supplement with glutathione—like daily detox+.*
- Kidneys: Make an effort to drink more water! The kidneys flush out water-soluble toxins, so they need proper hydration in order to excrete unwanted compounds throughout the day.
- Skin: In addition to serving as barrier No. 1 from outside stressors, the skin eliminates toxins through perspiration, so incorporate some moderate exercise into your daily routine. (Just make sure you break a sweat, and hydrate, of course, to optimize your detox pathways!)
- Lungs: Your lungs take in oxygen and work hard all day to exhale toxins you don't want (carbon dioxide, allergens, fumes, etc.), so simply taking deep, focused breaths will help you support your lung health and respiration.
- Lymph: The lymphatic system's main job is to filter toxins from your blood. It's thought that dry brushing your skin in a circular motion can help promote lymph detoxification.
- Colon: When it comes to the health of your large intestine (colon), regular bowel movements are key! Nourish your gut microbiome by prioritizing a pre- and probiotic approach from diet and smart supplements. Speaking of prebiotics, focus on fiber intake (both insoluble and soluble) and stay hydrated to keep everything moving smoothly.
To live a long, healthy, and happy life, you have to make sure you're supporting your body holistically. Bolstering your detoxification pathways by expanding your antioxidant network (and thus, increasing antioxidant activity) and keeping your elimination organs in tiptop shape is a fantastic way to promote optimal well-being throughout your life span.
If you're looking for a targeted daily detoxification solution, consider taking a supplement like daily detox+.* With five all-star ingredients (i.e., glutathione, milk thistle, NAC, selenium, and acerola vitamin C), this synergistic supplement and new-school approach to detox supports daily antioxidant actions to foster whole-body detoxification and longevity.* Learn more about daily detox+ here.*
Morgan Chamberlain is a supplement editor at mindbodygreen. She graduated from Syracuse University with a Bachelor of Science degree in magazine journalism and a minor in nutrition. Chamberlain believes in taking small steps to improve your well-being—whether that means eating more plant-based foods, checking in with a therapist weekly, or spending quality time with your closest friends. When she isn’t typing away furiously at her keyboard, you can find her cooking in the kitchen, hanging outside, or doing a vinyasa flow.