Detox has become a buzzword in the health and wellness space, with more and more detox diets, cleanses, and pills popping up claiming to do everything from help you shed pounds to remove ‘toxic sludge’ from your colon. Research, however, says there is very little evidence to support the claims made by these pills and diets.
I want to make one thing abundantly clear – your body is a detoxing machine(1). It has all the tools necessary to eliminate waste. Of course, supporting your body in its natural abilities with proper nutrition, movement, and rest is important. That’s why today I’m going to shed some light on detoxing, and then cover a related topic: natural deodorant.
How Does the Body Detox?
Detoxing, by definition, is the metabolism and removal of toxins from the body. Again, I wish the wellness and supplement industries would stop pretending that detoxing isn’t something your body already does. In reality, detoxification is a process – and one your body is very good at. There are a lot of organs and systems involved like the cardiovascular, lymphatic, respiratory, digestive, and urinary systems. In this article, we’ll focus a few key detoxification pathways.
Your skin is your body’s largest organ at an average size of 20 square feet, and it has many roles. (That’s one of the reasons I’m a fan of safer skincare options.) One of the is elimination via sweat glands. When you sweat, your body eliminates heavy metals including arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury (2,3). More research is needed to figure out therapeutic protocols. To support your skin’s role in detoxification, working up a sweat regularly is generally understood to be helpful. Exercise is one of the simplest ways to get a sweat on. (Just remember to rehydrate afterward.)
Kidneys / Urinary System
One of the primary functions of the kidney is to filter your blood removing toxins, waste, and excess water from your circulatory system and excrete them through your pee. To do this properly, your kidneys need to be supported with a healthy diet that includes plenty of whole fresh foods and reduces high-sodium foods (4) .
Most people are aware that the colon plays a large role in elimination, which might explain why the idea of a ‘colon cleanse’ has become so popular in recent years. However, it’s untrue that pieces of fecal matter (poop) somehow get lodged in your colon and then are absorbed into the bloodstream. The cell lining of your digestive tract constantly regenerates, making this impossible. However, it’s still good to focus on digestion as a method for elimination. Keep your gut health in check by eating food rich in probiotics (think fermented veggies and kombucha) and prebiotics (like garlic, onions, asparagus, and bananas) (5).
In essence? Sweating, proper hydration, and making sure you’re pooping normally are all key to helping your body’s elimination pathways. It’s your job to make sure that you’re feeding your body the right nutrients, giving it rest, and drinking enough water so that these three mechanisms can function properly.
Supporting the Liver: The Detox Powerhouse
Your liver, the hub for detoxification in your body, has several individual detoxification pathways and deals with everything from food-based substances like alcohol and caffeine to hormones like estrogens and medications like antibiotics (6). Your liver does all of this innately, but it’s important to think about how much burden you’re placing on it through food, lifestyle, skincare, and environmental exposure. No one’s diet or lifestyle is perfect, of course, so it’s important to give your liver the support it needs.
If your lifestyle choices have been putting a strain on your liver (examples include too much alcohol, overuse of medications, sleep deprivation, smoking, and poor nutrition), you may want to discuss liver support with a nutritional professional or medical practitioner. Liver detoxification protocols should only be implemented under the guidance of a professional once the elimination pathways are supported and open.
Supporting Your Body’s Natural Detox Pathways
There are so many simple ways to support your body’s detox pathways. Most of them are common sense items like eating a nutrient-dense diet and limiting processed foods. Here are a few (fairly) easy-to-implement ideas you may not have considered:
- Drink plenty of water. If you’re not sure how much to drink, try this general guideline: bodyweight (in pounds)/2 = ounces of water to drink daily.
- Take deep breaths. Because they remove CO2 from our bodies, lungs are actually considered a detoxification organ as well. Allow oxygen to circulate through your system (and reduce stress!) by taking a few deep breaths every time you feel overwhelmed or in between tasks.
- Visit an infrared sauna. Aim for a few sessions a month if possible. Infrared saunas promote circulation and increase sweat.
- Move your lymph. Exercise (walking counts), dry brushing, jumping rope, etc. are all ways to move your lymphatic fluid around and support its detox function.
- Remove unsafe cookware and storage containers from your kitchen. This includes Teflon pans, aluminum foil, and Tupperware, all of which can leech unwanted substances into your food. Try copper or cast iron cookware and glass storage options (like mason jars or Pyrex containers).
- Avoid using harsh cleaning products in your home. Or, switch to more natural cleaning products. You can check the EWG’s site for the products you already own to see how they measure up.
- Support your liver and kidneys with an anti-inflammatory diet. Avoid sugar, artificial sweeteners, alcohol, and any foods you know your body reacts to (these might include grains, dairy, nuts, etc.) Your body (including your detoxification systems) functions better when inflammation is down.
- Support your gut health. Eating a diet rich in foods like fermented veggies, bone broth, collagen, prebiotic fibers, probiotics, etc. promotes a healthy gut and ensures your intestines can remove waste effectively.
- Switch to natural deodorant. Antiperspirants block sweat. Remember, sweating is an essential elimination pathway, so switching to a natural deodorant is one option to consider.
Supporting Your Skin: Switching to Natural Deodorant
Safe skincare is one of my favorite topics (I have an entire newsletter dedicated to it – sign up here), and my approach has always been to swap out the products I use daily first. So it made logical sense when this topic appeared on my radar a few years ago to start with deodorant.
Sweat and deodorant are not everyone’s favorite topics, but it bears repeating that sweating is a natural and necessary elimination pathway for the body. However, our culture is obsessed with the idea that sweating is bad, gross, and must be avoided at all costs. I’ve met people who are literally afraid to sweat because of this stigma.
We tend to associate sweat with smelling bad, but sweat itself actually has no smell – it’s the bacteria in your armpits that create the stink. And ironically, many people I’ve met say they smell better since switching away from antiperspirants.
But because of the “sweating = gross or dirty” association, marketers push products like antiperspirants that block sweating. I’m not going to recommend that you stop wearing deodorant but you may experience less irritation and better smell by switching to a natural deodorant. Everyone is different, so you might have to play around to see which brands work best for you.
Natural Deodorants That Work
There are lots of natural deodorants out there to try (or you can even make your own if you’re the DIY kind!). You’ll probably need to play around to find what works for you – bioindividuality (your current health status and genetics), your lifestyle, and your diet all play a role in how you sweat (and if you stink). Here are my suggestions for making the process easier:
- Swap brands when the weather is cooler. You’re going to sweat less in the colder months so might as well take advantage of that to stop using antiperspirant.
- Start with a deodorant that’s meant for sensitive skin. Baking soda is a staple ingredient in most natural deodorants, but some people’s pits are irritated by it. I recommend trying Primally Pure Charcoal or Blue Tansy as a low-baking soda option. If you’ve had a hard time with natural deodorants in the past, this could be the reason.
- Less is more: Don’t over-apply. If your natural deodorant is staining your clothes, you’re using too much. Two or three swipes is all you need. Sometimes in warmer weather I reapply in the afternoon if necessary. Don’t cake it on!
- Stay open-minded. Sometimes you have to kiss some deodorant frogs before you find the winner. Case in point: Primally Pure Charcoal works best for me while Fatco Stank Stop is my husband’s fave.
For me, it’s all about balance. I’m definitely not perfect in my diet or lifestyle (no one is), but easy swaps like switching to natural deodorant are a no brainer for me. I’m here to help you feel empowered to choose the best skincare products for YOU.
On that note, I’d love to invite you to join my Safer Skincare newsletter. It’s packed with information and special offers so you can have peace of mind about the products you use. Click here to join my Safer Skincare newsletter, and let me know in the comments if you’ve tried natural deodorants and what worked for you!
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