Another Avenue for Weight Loss: Detox

02/24/2012 12:32 pm ET | Updated Apr 15, 2012

Detoxification isn't just for the new-age crowd anymore. It has become an essential component of good health for people in all walks of life, because we live in a toxic world. This added stress can be the tipping point for thyroid disorders, severe menopause symptoms, cancer and weight gain, to name a few.

When I say the word detox, many of my patients look worried and confused. There are so many different notions out there regarding detoxifying, but I want to make two things clear:

1. I'm not referring to drug or alcohol detox, and
2. I'm not referring aggressive colon cleanses or fasting on lemon juice

I'm referring to dietary and lifestyle changes you can do at home to help clear your body of overwhelming toxins -- and even shed pounds while you're doing it.

What Are the Symptoms of Toxicity?

  • Stubborn weight
  • Acne and skin rashes
  • Bad breath
  • Bloating, gas, GI distress
  • Canker sores
  • Fuzzy thinking
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Dark circles under the eyes
  • Headaches
  • Noticeably reduced tolerance to alcohol and caffeine
  • Postnasal drip, scratchy throat, sinus congestion
  • Negative reactions to odors, cleansing agents, perfumes, etc.
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Chronic health problems

Why Do Toxins Cause Us to Gain Weight?

As you've heard me say before, when we're under any kind of long-term stress, our bodies keep weight on to protect us from a crisis. From exposures to pesticides on our food to the electromagnetic radiation from our mobile phones and computers, our bodies are managing many stressors at once.

Certain cosmetics, plastic products, clothes, computers and furniture contain toxins that can mimic the action of our own hormones and disrupt fat deposition.[1] And more specifically, research is proving that exposure to toxins can alter the way we metabolize sugar in our bodies. We're now seeing that people with Type 2 diabetes often have elevated levels of many different toxins in their bodies, so there is clearly a connection between toxins and how we process sugar in our bodies.[2]

Tips For Your Detox Plan

I know that spring is not here yet, but mid-winter is a good time to start planning for a spring detox. And I've done this with enough women to pick up a few tips along the way. There are three main areas to look at when attempting to detoxify:

1. Your Food. One way to lighten the toxic load on your body is by cleaning up your diet for a week or two. Food is information for the body and changing what we eat can make a big difference. I recommend removing sugar, syrup, honey, alcohol, caffeine, dairy, gluten, artificial sweeteners and additives, processed food and grilled or charbroiled meats from your diet. And include detoxifying foods like: alfalfa sprouts, brown rice, dark green veggies, lemon, garlic, gluten-free oats, millet, root vegetables and seeds.

2. Your Environment. There are many small things you can do here to lighten the load. Instead of keeping your mobile phone with you at all times, turn it off and take breaks, especially at night as you prepare for sleep. Buy more houseplants and make sure you have at least one in every room. Use old glass jars to store food in place of Tupperware and plastic wrap. Use vinegar and baking soda in place of toxic cleaners. For more tips and non-toxic cleaning recipes, see my article on "green" household cleaning.

3. Herbs and Supplements. First, be sure your body is getting its basic needs met by finding a good multivitamin with calcium and magnesium. Then you can include herbs like milk thistle, kudzu, turmeric and dandelion to help support your natural detoxification pathways. There are also supplements like N-acetylcysteine (NAC) and antioxidants like Co-enzyme Q 10 that can help as well.

The bottom line is that we have to assist our bodies in clearing out the clutter present in our modern world. Stay tuned for a more comprehensive blog on detoxification and how integral it has become to good health.

For more specific information, I developed a two-week detoxification plan we call Women to Women's Quick Cleanse. It's a great idea to do this cleanse once in the spring and then again in the fall. But any amount of detox you can incorporate into your life will help your body and your weight.


[1] Sargis, R., et al. 2010. Environmental endocrine disruptors promote adipogenesis in the 3T3-L1 cell line through glucocorticoid receptor activation. Obesity, 18(7), 1283-1288. URL: target="_hplink">

[2] Rylander, L., et al. 2005. A cross-sectional study of to the association between persistent organochlorine pollutants and diabetes. Environmental Health, 4, 28. URL:

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