Detoxing: Why It’s Important and How to Do It Safely 

by JJ Virgin on January 23, 2024

In our daily lives, we encounter substances, both natural and man-made, that can be harmful to the human body in significant amounts. These substances, including chemicals, heavy metals, and pollutants, are often referred to as toxins. 

Toxins are everywhere. They're in your food and water, household cleaning products, cosmetics, and even the air you breathe.  

Researchers have identified approximately 80,000 chemicals in our environment, many of which have not been thoroughly assessed for human safety. While not all of these substances are harmful, some have the potential to create significant damage throughout the body, disrupting the functions of organs and contributing to disease.1, 2 Daily exposure to them means your body must consistently detoxify. 

Because they are everywhere, we can’t avoid all of them. Fortunately, your body has robust natural detoxification mechanisms. Your liver, kidneys, gut, and other organs are constantly working to detoxify and protect you from damaging toxins. However, these systems can sometimes be overwhelmed by high levels of toxic exposure. 

Providing your body with the proper nutrients and incorporating helpful lifestyle practices can help ensure these organs are doing their jobs well.  

6 Reasons Detoxification Is Important 

The many benefits of supporting your body with a well-designed detox include: 

  1. Better energy: If you’re often feeling tired or sluggish, you could be carrying a toxic burden. Toxins can interfere with cellular energy production.3 Detoxification helps repair and rejuvenate cells, including the mitochondria, crucial for energy generation. 
  1. Weight management: Fat cells can be storage sites for various toxins, which may contribute to weight gain over time and disrupt hormone balance, including your hunger hormones.4 Toxins also activate your body's immune response, leading to chronic inflammation, a key contributor to weight-loss resistance.5 Detoxification can help release and eliminate these stored toxins from your fat cells, boosting fat loss and promoting a healthier weight. 
  1. Insulin sensitivity: Toxins can disrupt your body's normal response to insulin by decreasing their sensitivity to the hormone, which helps regulate blood sugar.6 As a result, your cells take up glucose (sugar) from the bloodstream at a slower rate. Over time, this can lead to insulin resistance. Providing your body with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and other nutrients can support those detoxifying abilities and help lower your toxic burden. 
  1. Gut health: A diverse, balanced gut microbiome supports overall health and reduces your risk of disease.7 Toxins can disrupt this balance of the gut microbiome and lead to digestive problems, inflammation, and compromised nutrient absorption.8 Detoxification promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria while reducing the abundance of harmful microbes. 
  1. Immune health: Toxins can weaken your immune system.9 Detoxification helps eliminate harmful substances and manage chronic inflammation, indirectly supporting immune health.10 Some detoxification processes involve the production of antioxidants like glutathione. Antioxidants protect immune cells from damage caused by free radicals so immune cells can function well.11 
  1. Brain health: Toxins can negatively impact your brain and nervous system, contributing to brain fog, mood swings, and long-term diseases like Alzheimer’s. Reducing your overall toxic burden helps improve focus, concentration, memory, and decision-making.12 

Why Amino Acids Are Vital for Safe Detoxification 

Safe detoxification means avoiding extreme or fad detox plans that can do more harm than good. Unfortunately, many detox programs (even otherwise well-designed ones) overlook the importance of amino acids. These building blocks are essential in all three phases of detoxification: 

  • Phase I – Mobilization: The liver breaks down toxins to make them easier to eliminate. Amino acids play a role in producing the enzymes necessary for this breakdown. 
  • Phase II – Transformation: Here, the liver neutralizes the partially processed toxins, requiring amino acids to create specific enzymes. Insufficient amino acids during this phase can lead to the accumulation of harmful substances, affecting hormone metabolism and increasing chronic disease risk. 
  • Phase III – Elimination: The waste is removed from your body through urine, stool, bile ducts, sweat, and lungs.13 Amino acids support this process by ensuring the smooth functioning of these elimination pathways. 

Beyond these phases, amino acids have several other roles in detoxification. They form the foundation for detox enzymes and produce antioxidants, like glutathione, crucial for cellular protection. They also help preserve muscle tissue during weight loss, support energy metabolism, boost the immune system, and enhance brain health. 

Neglecting amino acids in a detox plan can keep you from efficiently eliminating harmful substances, undermining the detox process and its benefits. 

Other Ways to Detoxify Safely 

To enhance the detoxification process, consider these additional strategies: 

  • Take a protein-first meal approach: Protein supplies the amino acids needed for effective detoxification reactions and maintains the body's antioxidant defenses. Every meal and loaded smoothie should contain 30-50 grams of protein
  • Buy high-quality, organic foods: Buying organic produce ensures you're not adding to your toxic burden. The EWG's Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce can help you identify the best- and least-pesticide-ridden fruits and vegetables. Choose high-quality protein sources, such as wild-caught seafood and grass-fed beef, to avoid the toxins sometimes used in conventional farming practices. Studies show that grass-fed beef contains more antioxidants including glutathione than grain-fed beef.14 
  • Eat fruits and vegetables: Plant foods offer a wealth of antioxidants that combat damaging free radicals and contribute to detoxification. Non-starchy vegetables and low-sugar fruits like berries contain fiber, which promotes regularity and a balanced microbiome. Fiber can also enhance the activity of antioxidant and detoxification enzymes in the liver, further supporting your body's abilities.15 
  • Drink plenty of water: Clean, filtered water helps flush toxins from your body and supports your kidneys as they eliminate waste. This handy calculator will tell you how much water you should be drinking daily.  
  • Incorporate resistance training: Resistance training offers several benefits for detoxification, including, better circulation, lymphatic system support, hormone regulation, lower inflammation, and immune system support.16, 17 
  • Get great sleep: Studies show that your brain cleanses itself of toxic molecules during sleep.18 Great sleep also helps regulate hormonal balance, reduces inflammation, strengthens the immune system, and optimizes the effectiveness of your detoxifying organs, including your liver.19 
  • Choose non-toxic products: Making informed decisions about which products to use and avoid shouldn't be complicated. The Environmental Working Group has helpful guides, including the Guide to Healthy Cleaning and Skin Deep Cosmetics Database.  

How Often Should You Detox?  

You can tailor a detoxification plan based on the severity of symptoms. Here's a breakdown of what symptoms to look for and how often you should detoxify: 

  1. Mild symptoms: Can include occasional fatigue, minor digestive discomfort, occasional headaches, and sporadic skin issues. Detox once or twice a year. 
  1. Moderate symptoms: Can include regular fatigue, digestive issues, persistent headaches, skin problems, mood swings, and occasional sleep disturbances. Detox twice a year. 
  1. Severe symptoms: Can include chronic fatigue, digestive disorders, frequent headaches, severe skin conditions, anxiety or depression, chronic sleep disturbances, and persistent aches and pains. Detox every three to six months. Consider working with a functional-medicine practitioner to identify and manage a heavy toxic burden.  

A Safe, Effective Detox Plan 

So many of the symptoms that you might dismiss as normal—fatigue, brain fog, and poor sleep—can be signs of a toxic burden.  

Many people start a detox plan excitedly but quickly hit a wall, struggling with issues like hunger and cravings. Now you know why: Many of these plans neglect amino acids critical for detoxification.  

I created the 10-Day Protein-Powered Detox Program with amino acids as the foundation. When you provide the amino acids your liver needs, you provide broad-spectrum detoxification support.  

You're not going to feel hungry on this plan, either. You'll find plenty of delicious loaded smoothies and protein-powered meals that satisfy you for hours, and you'll learn simple, effective strategies to support your body's detoxification abilities in the daily videos. Plus, you'll get a private Facebook group with supportive, like-minded folks on the same path.  

You'll have everything you need to support your body's detoxification to uplevel your health and wellness goals. The end result? Renewed energy, focus, vitality, weight loss, and more – all in just 10 days. 

Learn more about The 10-Day Protein-Powered Detox Program here.

References: 

  1. WholisticMatters: Metabolic Detox 101 
  1. Institute for Natural Medicine: How Toxins Cause Disease 
  1. Science Direct: Mitochondrial Toxicity – an overview 
  1. Janesick AS, Blumberg B. Obesogens: an emerging threat to public health. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2016 May;214(5):559-65. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2016.01.182. Epub 2016 Jan 29. PMID: 26829510; PMCID: PMC4851574. 
  1. Monteiro R, Azevedo I. Chronic inflammation in obesity and the metabolic syndrome. Mediators Inflamm. 2010;2010:289645. doi: 10.1155/2010/289645. Epub 2010 Jul 14. PMID: 20706689; PMCID: PMC2913796. 
  1. Rotondo E, Chiarelli F. Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals and Insulin Resistance in Children. Biomedicines. 2020 May 28;8(6):137. doi: 10.3390/biomedicines8060137. PMID: 32481506; PMCID: PMC7344713. 
  1. Harvard Health: Diet, disease, and the microbiome 
  1. Bist P, Choudhary S. Impact of Heavy Metal Toxicity on the Gut Microbiota and Its Relationship with Metabolites and Future Probiotics Strategy: a Review. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2022 Dec;200(12):5328-5350. doi: 10.1007/s12011-021-03092-4. Epub 2022 Jan 7. PMID: 34994948. 
  1. National Research Council (US) Subcommittee on Immunotoxicology. Biologic Markers in Immunotoxicology. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 1992. 5, The Capacity of Toxic Agents to Compromise the Immune System (Biologic Markers of Immunosuppression)Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK235670/ 
  1. Kharrazian D. Exposure to Environmental Toxins and Autoimmune Conditions. Integr Med (Encinitas). 2021 Apr;20(2):20-24. PMID: 34377090; PMCID: PMC8325494 
  1. Pizzorno J. Glutathione! Integr Med (Encinitas). 2014 Feb;13(1):8-12. PMID: 26770075; PMCID: PMC4684116. 
  1. Aggarwal V, Mehndiratta MM, Wasay M, Garg D. Environmental Toxins and Brain: Life on Earth is in Danger. Ann Indian Acad Neurol. 2022 Sep;25(Suppl 1):S15-S21. doi: 10.4103/aian.aian_169_22. Epub 2022 Sep 5. PMID: 36213101; PMCID: PMC9540824. 
  1. Hodges RE, Minich DM. Modulation of Metabolic Detoxification Pathways Using Foods and Food-Derived Components: A Scientific Review with Clinical Application. J Nutr Metab. 2015;2015:760689. doi: 10.1155/2015/760689. Epub 2015 Jun 16. PMID: 26167297; PMCID: PMC4488002. 
  1. Daley CA, Abbott A, Doyle PS, Nader GA, Larson S. A review of fatty acid profiles and antioxidant content in grass-fed and grain-fed beef. Nutr J. 2010 Mar 10;9:10. doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-9-10. PMID: 20219103; PMCID: PMC2846864. 
  1. Ask the Scientists: Your Detox Organs Need Dietary Fiber 
  1. MD Anderson Cancer Center: Exercise and the lymphatic system 
  1. Calle MC, Fernandez ML. Effects of resistance training on the inflammatory response. Nutr Res Pract. 2010 Aug;4(4):259-69. doi: 10.4162/nrp.2010.4.4.259. Epub 2010 Aug 31. PMID: 20827340; PMCID: PMC2933442. 
  1. Voumvourakis KI, Sideri E, Papadimitropoulos GN, Tsantzali I, Hewlett P, Kitsos D, Stefanou M, Bonakis A, Giannopoulos S, Tsivgoulis G, Paraskevas GP. The Dynamic Relationship between the Glymphatic System, Aging, Memory, and Sleep. Biomedicines. 2023 Jul 25;11(8):2092. doi: 10.3390/biomedicines11082092. PMID: 37626589; PMCID: PMC10452251. 
  1. UC Health: The Sleep Routines that Strengthen your Immune System 

The views in this blog by JJ Virgin should never be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. Please work with a healthcare practitioner concerning any medical problem or concern. The information here is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or condition. Statements contained here have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.    

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.