Ditch the Expensive Detox: The 4 P’s that Help our Bodies Detox Naturally.

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I’ve had numerous patients do everything “correctly” yet still struggle with weight loss.

As a medical doctor, I’ve learned repeatedly that environmental toxins—often overlooked or ignored by mainstream medicine—can make us fat and contribute to Type 2 diabetes. These chemicals hijack our body’s ability to balance blood sugar and metabolize cholesterol.

Here’s the dirty secret: No drugs can treat these conditions. Until conventional medicine catches up, we’ve got to optimize our body’s ability to reduce toxins. If our body’s detoxification tools aren’t up to snuff, waste will build up.

Over time, the resulting damage is similar to what happens when trash collectors go on strike and don’t pick up the garbage off the streets. The waste piles high, making the neighborhood smell bad and creating a breeding ground for illness.

Detoxification is our body’s way of breaking down and eliminating anything that doesn’t belong. And, these days, there are a lot of things our bodies come into contact with that don’t belong.

We live in an environment steeped in chemicals our bodies weren’t designed to process. The average newborn has 287 chemicals in her umbilical cord blood, 217 of which are neurotoxic. It only gets worse from there.

We live in a toxic world, but we can do a lot to enhance our body’s natural ability to detox. I’m not talking about an expensive detox regimen or going off to a spa week (although those things can certainly help).

I’m talking about basic detoxification processes our body regularly undergoes. Our body has four primary “escape” routes for toxins: pee, poop, perspiration and pranayama (Sanskrit for “breath”). Here’s how we can optimize them all:

  1. Our kidneys flush waste from the blood. Give them what they need with about eight eight-ounce glasses of clean, filtered water daily. Humans are predominately composed of water (about 66 percent for men and 60 percent for women). An initial sign of dehydration is the color of our urine. Our urine should be mostly clear (clear enough to read a newspaper through) or with only a slight tinge of yellow. (If we take vitamins, keep in mind that some nutrients, especially riboflavin, cause our urine to turn bright yellow.) If our urine is dark yellow or has a strong odor, chances are we aren’t drinking enough water.
  2. One or two well-formed bowel movements every day give toxins a one-way ticket out of our bodies. To get that and other benefits, increase fiber intake. Fiber cleans out our colon by making our stool heftier and easier to expel. Again, please drink plenty of water, especially while increasing fiber intake. Our bodies are good at conserving water. When our colon wall sucks too much moisture out of stool, it dries and hardens, leading to pebble-like poop and constipation. Drinking more water and other liquids during the day can make our BMs softer and easier to expel. If we still can’t get going, a few “boosters” like two tablespoons of ground flaxseeds and magnesium citrate can help.
  3. Our skin is our single largest elimination organ. To make sure we’re maximizing our pores’ detox potential, work up a sweat at least three times a week. Of course, heart-thumping exercise that gets the body sweating for 20 minutes, three times a week is ideal, since it confers other health benefits. Also consider using a sauna, steam, or detox bath to help the body detoxify via sweat.
  4. Our lungs are the under-sung heroes of the body’s detox squad. With each breath, they bring in fresh oxygen and help transport it throughout the body. Unfortunately, the air we breathe isn’t always clean. Every day our lungs filter out carcinogens via gas fumes, allergens from pets and plants, and spores of mold. Restricted or shallow breathing can prevent oxygen from reaching all tissues. Breathing deeply and fully will oxygenate our brain, body, and spirit, transforming our health in the process. Belly breathing makes a great way to detoxify. To do that, we can put our hand on our belly. Breathe out, squeezing the air out of our lungs with our stomach muscles. As we breathe in, we can relax our stomach muscles and, after filling our lungs, try to push our hand off the belly with our breath, filling the lower part of our lungs. Continue to breathe in and out slowly through the nose. Each in and out breath should last to the count of three. Do this for five minutes a day.

For many patients, reducing toxins becomes the missing link for weight loss. Fortunately, detoxification needn’t become a tedious process when we practice these four strategies.


To minimize toxic exposure and eliminate our body’s toxic burden, what strategy would you add here? Share yours below or on my Facebook page.


Author: Dr. Mark Hyman
Image: We Are Social/Flickr 
Editor: Emily Bartran

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About Mark Hyman

Mark Hyman, MD, believes that we all deserve a life of vitality—and that we have the potential to create it for ourselves. That’s why he is dedicated to tackling the root causes of chronic disease by harnessing the power of Functional Medicine to transform healthcare. Dr. Hyman and his team work every day to empower people, organizations, and communities to heal their bodies and minds, and improve our social and economic resilience. Dr. Hyman is a practicing family physician, a nine-time #1 New York Times bestselling author, and an internationally recognized leader, speaker, educator, and advocate in his field. He is the Director of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine. He is also the founder and medical director of The UltraWellness Center, chairman of the board of the Institute for Functional Medicine, a medical editor of The Huffington Post, and has been a regular medical contributor on many television shows including CBS This Morning, the Today Show, CNN, The View, the Katie Couric show and The Dr. Oz Show. Dr. Hyman works with individuals and organizations, as well as policy makers and influencers. He has testified before both the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine and the Senate Working Group on Health Care Reform on Functional Medicine. He has consulted with the Surgeon General on diabetes prevention, and participated in the 2009 White House Forum on Prevention and Wellness. Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa nominated Dr. Hyman for the President’s Advisory Group on Prevention, Health Promotion, and Integrative and Public Health. In addition, Dr. Hyman has worked with President Clinton, presenting at the Clinton Foundation’s Health MattersAchieving Wellness in Every Generation conference and the Clinton Global Initiative, as well as with the World Economic Forum on global health issues. Dr. Hyman also works with fellow leaders in his field to help people and communities thrive—with Rick Warren, Dr. Mehmet Oz, and Dr. Daniel Amen,he created The Daniel Plan, a faith-based initiative that helped The Saddleback Church congregation collectively lose 250,000 pounds.  He is an advisor and guest co-host on The Dr. Oz Show and is on the board of Dr. Oz’s HealthCorps, which tackles the obesity epidemic by educating American students about nutrition. With Drs. Dean Ornish and Michael Roizen, Dr. Hyman crafted and helped introduce the Take Back Your Health Act of 2009 to the United States Senate to provide for reimbursement of lifestyle treatment of chronic disease. Dr. Hyman plays a substantial role in a major documentary, produced by Laurie David and Katie Couric, called Fed Up (Atlas Films, September 2014)which addresses childhood obesity. Please join him in helping us all take back our health at his website, follow him on Twitter and on Facebook and Instagram.


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