Detoxing is the process of removing toxic substances from a living organism. We know the term best through nutrition programs that involve drinking juices or taking supplements to cleanse the liver, colon, and skin.

Let's be real, detox is a diet word disguised as 'wellness.'

The smart, healthy way to detox is far from the extreme versions we're used to. Detoxing should not involve depriving the body of real food or promoting intense *ahem* elimination.

A smart, safe detox will refresh the body and mind with natural, wholesome choices that allow our systems to reboot and recenter.

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In an effort to reframe the way we think about detoxes, here's everything you need to know about how to detox the safe, smart way.

Commercial Detoxes Aren't Really Backed by Evidence 

Before getting into smarter detoxing, here's why we should dump commercial detoxes:

"To the best of our knowledge, no randomized controlled trials have been conducted to assess the effectiveness of commercial detox diets in humans," say researchers. In a paper titled, "Detox diets for toxin elimination and weight management: a critical review of the evidence," experts say: 

"although the detox industry is booming, there is very little clinical evidence to support the use of these diets."

Detox diets come with heavy claims that a program can enhance liver detoxification, eliminate pollutants from the body, and even help with weight loss. Who wouldn't want all that? However, a deeper look at the methodologies and sample sizes used by these programs renders these claims null.

Detoxing is largely marketing hype.

Instead of purchasing detox products and programs, experts on the subject say there is substantial evidence suggesting real foods, herbs, and spices have detoxing properties on their own. These include coriander, nori, and olestra.

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Before running to the produce aisle, keep in mind even these studies are proven largely with animal subjects. Which is great news for your chunky cat.

The Body Naturally Detoxifies Itself 

Congratulations, smart detoxing is already happening on a cellular level inside your body.

Our systems are tremendously intelligent and intuitive, working to break down and eliminate chemicals and toxins.

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At this moment, your kidneys, skin, digestive tract, and liver are helping you detox.

Furthermore, every time you sweat or eliminate through urine or stool, you're detoxing.

Cutting Food Doesn't = Detoxing

As part of the smart natural detoxing already taking place, your body may want food to increase that effectiveness.

Commercial detox programs and products suggest that taking away food immediately takes away chemicals. But registered dietitian Kate Patton, MEd, RD, CSSD, LD says "Solid foods are actually helpful!"

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Fiber, for instance, found in foods can increase nutrient absorption and remove toxins through the stool. Our stomachs also use probiotics from fiber to support immune and gut health. Patton adds, "there is no conclusive medical evidence that your digestive tract will heal from skipping solid foods (unless you have a digestive disorder such as Crohn's disease or gastroparesis).

Just Eat & Drink Healthy

It's so un-sexy but it's true: the smartest, safest way to detox is to support the body's natural detoxing ability by eating and drinking healthy, whole foods.

Of course, it's much more exciting to hope that a week of lemon and cayenne drinks will reverse all the poor decisions of the last decade. (BTW, it won't.)

Smart detoxing is done through a series of everyday decisions, like choosing natural spring water over fruit juice, or probiotic kombucha over soda.

WebMD says, "The only type of detox diet that is worthwhile is one that limits processed, high-fat, and sugary foods, and replaces them with more whole foods like fruits and vegetables."

They also caution any prospective 'detoxer' to avoid diets and products that "promise to detox your liver with supplements or 'cleanse' whatever the diet determines needs washing out."

How to Detox Today 

Start detox daily, the smart way, by using these tips:

1. Wake up and immediately drink water.

(Nope, not coffee, sorry.) Drinking water on an empty stomach after waking up promotes the flushing of toxins, rehydrates your body after sleep, and revs up your metabolism.

2. Skip soda.

Those who detox for weight-loss can ignore pricey detox products and simply say no to soda. Cutting soda improves blood pressure and metabolism function, making it easier to lose weight.

3. Grab a green tea.

Antioxidants (which are abundant in green tea) boosts the power of the immune system and increase the body's ability to detoxify. Black tea is also great, just make sure you get a tea with 0 sugar

4. Get your blood flowing!

Exercise helps the body become more efficient in detoxing the kidneys, liver, and immune system. Exercise also releases toxins stored in fatty tissues.

5. Go to the bathroom.

Again, it's not sexy but our biggest natural source of detoxification is, well, by means of elimination.

6. Sprinkle chia seeds on food.

And add other whole foods into your diet that promote regular bowel movements. i.e. beans, apples, chia seeds, and pears.

7. Try a mocktail.

Try an alcohol-free fizzy drink instead of booze this weekend. Skipping alcohol gives the liver a mini-break and can decrease dehydration. Make your mocktail with kombucha for a functional boost.

8. Practice deep-breathing.

Detox naturally by managing the amount of stress you're under. One simple approach is deep-breathing. Try these different methods during your commute.

9. Dry brush before the shower.

Detox programs say their products can improve skin health and make you glow, but all you need is regular dry brushing. It's like a shower brush but you use it without water. Brush our skin

Still Feeling Sluggish, Bloated, or Tired?

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It happens to everyone. We hit a wall and realize a bout of sluggishness, weight gain, or poor sleep won't fly anymore. Immediately we think of ways to detox - healthy and extreme- like sweating it out in a sauna, eating leafy greens for lunch, or replacing dinner with a colon-cleansing shake. Before reaching for a detox program or product, remember this:

"The human body can defend itself very well against most environmental insults and the effects of occasional indulgence," says a Harvard Health expert on the subject.

"If you're generally healthy, concentrate on giving your body what it needs to maintain its robust self-cleaning system - a healthful diet, adequate fluid intake, regular exercise, sufficient sleep, and all recommended medical check-ups."

And if you really, really feel off... "visit your doctor instead of a detox spa."