3 ways you’re detoxing wrong and 3 ways to do it right!

Detoxification has many health benefits, the biggest is weight loss and eliminating built up toxins in the body. Just like everyone has their own reasons for detoxing their body, there is just as many different approaches to detox as well. There are juice cleanses, water fasting, brown rice fasts…this list goes on. Although there are various ways in which we can detox our bodies, once the toxins move into the bloodstream they all have the potential to cause the same side effects – fatigue, headache, sore muscles, and malaise. To minimize the chance of getting these unpleasant side effects, we need to address the 3 most common detoxing mistakes!

1. Starting and stopping your detox too fast

A common mistake is quickly starting and stopping a detox. When starting a detox, transitioning into it is just as important as the detox itself. Detox is just like a new workout regimen – you can’t just go from never going to the gym to bench-pressing 250 lbs on day one – you have to work up to it and detox is the same way. It doesn’t matter if you’re doing a juice cleanse or a water fast, we cannot shock our bodies.


Plan, plan, plan. This is key to having a successful detox with minimal side effects. Make sure you have a meal plan for the first two days of detox that will slowly decrease the intake of your regular diet and increasing the foods/drinks that are part of your detox diet. Once your detox is coming to an end, do not binge and go straight back to your regular diet. Slowly introduce food back into your diet and make sure you maintain a whole foods diet to reap the long-term benefits of your detox.

2. Ignoring detoxification pathways (it's not all about diet)

Detoxification is not just about diet; it’s about the whole elimination pathway. Changing the diet will help move the toxins out into the bloodstream, but you have to help it move out of your system completely! There are 5 organs in the body that are considered emunctories, which is just a fancy word for waste/toxin eliminators and they are: Lungs, Skin, Liver, Kidneys, and Large Intestine. It is these organs that are ignored during the detoxification pathway and without supporting them, then the toxins will not be completely eliminated and the whole cleanse would be of no value to you.


Utilizing saunas/sweating (but don’t start any new, excessive exercise regimens), dry body brushing, encouraging regular bowel movements (without use of laxatives), and keeping hydrated supports the body to expel toxins.

The body detoxifies in two phases: the first phase uses liver enzymes to break down toxin into intermediates. Phase two will take these intermediates and make them water soluble to be eliminated by the body. This is why hydration, sweating, and regular bowel movements is just as important as the detox diet itself.

3. Timing of detox

Detoxing is incredibly challenging, not only for the body but for the mind as well. The meal planning, sugar cravings, and the potential side effects can bring on a certain level of stress, so detoxing your body during a stressful time of the year or during a season when your body’s natural response is to hibernate is counterproductive. Just like we need to plan out what we will do DURING our detox, we must also plan out WHEN we will do our detox.


If you’re ever in doubt, get your inspiration from nature. When does an apple tree or a bear flourish and grow? When do they conserve their energy and hibernate? That’s right, Spring/least stressful times are when they flourish and grow; Winter/stressful times are when they hibernate. Hence, the best time to detox your body is during a time when it has extra energy/resources to handle the toxins being liberated (i.e. not during Winter or stressful times).

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Dr. Katherine Chung, ND

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