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The Full Spectrum of Detoxification

Daily habits to support detox


Detoxification is a vital function of your body, and it’s happening every second of every day. While many of us think of a detox as something to be done once or twice a year, it’s actually something we should support our body in doing every single day.


The two key steps of detoxification

Detoxification occurs throughout our bodies in two basic steps: conversion and elimination. Conversion occurs when our body takes a compound, including hormones, drugs, or pesticides, and makes it water-soluble. This compound can then be removed from the body in the second step—elimination. Most conversion occurs in our liver and kidneys, while elimination happens in our bowels, urinary tract, lungs, and skin.


The overlooked lymphatic system

For smooth detoxification we need healthy movement through our lymphatic system, a network of vessels and nodes which, among other functions, moves waste products from tissues to the bloodstream where it can be processed and eliminated. When the lymphatic system is congested, it leads to an accumulation of waste products and prevents us from detoxifying fully.


Daily detoxification

Detoxification is a daily process, so let’s focus on behaviours that can enhance our detoxification on a daily basis. Start by incorporating some of these habits into your routine to support your body in its vital work.


Drink plenty of water

Your body needs water for metabolism and for circulation of blood and lymph. We each have our own water needs, but six to eight - 8 oz (250 mL) glasses is a good guideline for most people.


Lower your body burden of chemicals

Cut out sugar, alcohol, and processed foods, and choose mostly organic produce. Simplify your life by using all-natural cleansers and beauty products.


Do some deep breathing

Engage in regular deep breathing to bring oxygen deep into your lungs and optimize the detoxifying actions of the lungs.


Get sweaty

Your skin, your largest organ, rids your body of many compounds, like mercury and lead, by sweating. Using a sauna is a great option, while exercise has the added benefit of getting your lymphatic system moving.


Try dry skin brushing

Using a natural fibre brush encourages lymphatic movement while supporting healthy skin. Simply start at your toes or fingers and lightly brush in small circles moving toward your heart. Do this a few times per week before a shower.

Beyond these daily habits, check out our article The Detox Dozen for insights into some the best foods to support detoxification.

Dr. Lisa Watson is a naturopathic doctor in Toronto. She shares her knowledge on women’s hormones and complex hormone imbalances at her website,

This article was originally published in the March 2020 issue of alive Canada, under the title "The Full Spectrum of Detoxification."



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Matthew Kadey, MSc, RDMatthew Kadey, MSc, RD