To Detox or Not To Detox?

Understand the detoxification process with naturopathic doctor Rachel Corradetti.

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Detoxing has become a trend so prevalent in today’s health-conscious climate, we forget that it also occurs naturally on a daily basis as part of the body’s own toxin-removal system. Rachel Corradetti, BSc, ND, explains how a naturopath-led detox can fit into a Clean Eating lifestyle.

TOSCA: Why do I need to detox if my body can already do this on its own?
DR. CORRADETTI: It’s true, the body is already capable of this process. However, we are exposed to external and internal toxins daily through the air we breathe, food we eat, substances we drink and medications we take. Our body is constantly detoxifying these products by the synergistic actions of a number of organs and systems. The trick is, these systems must function properly for ultimate health. Sometimes toxins are not eliminated efficiently, so the body gets bogged down – whether it’s through constipation, decreased water intake, stress, poor food choices, lack of exercise, increased alcohol use, heavy chemical exposure or medication use. In a clean-eating lifestyle, your body is less likely to experience heavy accumulation of toxins, therefore an intense detoxification protocol may not be necessary, but a gentle biannual tune-up can still be useful.

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T: When is the best time to do a detox?
C: Transitional seasons are the best time for detoxifying – think spring and fall.

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T: What should I expect from a detox?
C: A couple of things we often see right away that may not feel wonderful are headaches, runny nose, sugar cravings and fatigue. For the most part, these are good signs that the body is functioning properly. Beyond the first and second week of a detox, you can expect to see sugar cravings dissipate, more energy, weight loss, a more moderate and balanced body temprature, regular bowel and bladder movements, reduced bloating and reduced headaches. Some people may experience better stress management.

T: How should I prepare for a detox?
C: Having all pathways of elimination open is crucial. Toxin removal occurs via the intestines, liver, kidneys, blood, skin, lungs and lymphatic system. At the most basic level, if you’re not sweating, urinating or defecating regularly then you are not eliminating toxins from your body. By ensuring that these pathways are open, you will actually be able to move toxins out of the body. This basic understanding is one of the main reasons detoxifications may not be good for everyone. It’s also important to understand how to support a detox plan with the correct supplements, botanicals, hydrotherapy and lifestyle changes, including an emphasis on eating clean. These should only be prescribed by a professional, like a naturopathic doctor.

T: Is there anyone who shouldn’t detox?
C: Yes. Children, the elderly, pregnant women and anyone with liver disease, cancer, eating disorders, chronic fatigue, diabetes or those recovering from surgery should not embark on a detox.

T: Is a detox meant to be severe?
C: All detoxes are meant to be gentle. In fact, we’ll often encourage people to reduce their exercise, and spend more time on yoga, saunas and meditation rather than pounding out the weights in the gym. If you’re running to the bathroom every 5 minutes, you should stop. Call an ND or medical professional – this is not normal.

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T: Any other comments you feel are important?
C: You can support your body’s natural detox process by eating clean, exercising and by getting plenty of rest. We like to think of a detoxification in 3 steps:

  1. Eliminate
  2. Replenish
  3. Eat soup – as in Change of Season Soup!

You can learn more about these three steps and get the recipe for the Change of Season Soup on our blog,

When nutritional therapy practitioner Tosca Reno was raising five children under one roof she still managed to write numerous books. Her New York Times best seller is Your Best Body Now, and Tosca Reno’s Eat Clean Cookbook was nominated for the prestigious Gourmand World Cookbook Award. Order copies of her books at

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