Let’s chat about detoxing. You might have preconceived beliefs that “detoxing” doesn’t really work. You might think it’s overrated or just a fad. This article will address the issues with detoxing and tell you the functional medicine approach to detoxing to optimize your health. 

Detox used to mean many things, which may be part of the reason there is some confusion. To some, it might simply be drinking lemon juice in water, sitting in a sauna, or maybe doing a juice fast. 


You might be asking yourself, “why do people need to detox if our body already has a natural detox system?”. Well, the functional medicine & functional nutrition approach to detoxing is more than just ridding your body of toxins. It focuses more on eliminating toxin exposure, all the while supporting your natural detox organs so they can do a better job at ridding the toxins.


How Does A Detox Work?

A detox usually means limiting a certain food group or eating certain foods to help rid the body of toxins.


Within functional medicine, detox has a specific definition. It is the process of reducing the body’s toxic load by lessening exposure to harmful chemicals we are taking in, while simultaneously implementing nutrition and lifestyle strategies to promote efficient elimination of toxins from the body.


Participating in a detox, or cleanse, can have many positive benefits. Here are some common ones we see in the clinic.


Benefits of Detoxing

  • Enhances liver function
  • Helps in weight loss
  • Improves digestion
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Improves skin
  • Boosts energy
  • Recharges and revitalizes


This may be why you’ll see better results using the functional medicine approach, rather than just drinking lemon water every morning- which don’t get me wrong, is still a good idea. Here is what we would recommend if you want to try to do a detox or cleanse. 


Eliminate Stressors On the Body

Detoxification is a parasympathetic process. This means it works most optimally while your body is in the “rest and digest” mode. If your body is stressed out, it enters into the “fight or flight” mode and your detoxification process is put on halt. While physical stress puts your body into this “fight or flight”mode, other stressors can do this as well. Keep reading to find out what other stressors you need to avoid to help your body detox. 


Eliminate Food Allergies/Sensitivities

The first step of detoxification can be done, in part, by lessening the immune system load via removing reactive foods from the diet. The gold standard for this removal is the appropriately named “elimination diet”, which is a simplified list of foods to eat and foods to exclude as part of a detox program. After the elimination phase, you can reintroduce these foods after a certain time to see if your body can tolerate them again. 


Common Food Allergies

Typically, common allergenic foods and beverages containing corn, soy, wheat/gluten, eggs, dairy, shellfish, and peanuts, are omitted from the daily diet in conjunction with caffeine, sugar, alcohol, and red meat. Depending on the program’s duration, these foods should be omitted for between 10 to 28 days. Research shows that using an elimination diet in various formats can address various conditions with differing levels of success.


In Functional Medicine, the elimination diet is often used as the first line of therapy for immune and gastrointestinal issues, since it can help with reducing your toxic load and cool down any immune reactivity to foods.


Eliminate Toxins In Your Environment

Part of a detox also includes avoiding toxins in your environment. We want you to minimize your “toxic bucket” so it doesn’t overflow and back up your detoxification organs even more. Here are some ways to avoid toxins in your everyday life so that you can lessen the toxin burden on your body. 


Ways to Avoid Toxins

  • Buy organic foods
  • Buy non-toxic cleaning supply alternatives
  • Check your home for molds or other contaminants
  • Open up your windows to reduce toxins in your home
  • Let new furniture air out before taking them inside your home. They contain fire retardants (aka toxins)
  • Buy a water filter that filters out whatever toxins are contaminating your local water source. One water filter may be better than another depending on where you live. Check out the water contaminants in your local area here. 


Consume Nutrients to Enhance Detox Pathways

In conjunction with the removal of foods, it’s best to take a complementary approach to bolster the body with specific nutrients that help fortify its pathways of detoxification in the liver, so toxins can be easily removed. 


For example, it is well known that certain vitamins and minerals—like B vitamins and iron—are required to assist with the detox enzymes’ activity. Coupling nutrients together with an elimination diet is perhaps the powerful protocol for a medical detoxification regimen.


Take A Food Sensitivity Test

Getting a food sensitivity test performed by your functional medicine provider is a great tool for learning which foods don’t agree with your body. Sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint the exact foods you are sensitive to since they can show up hours or even days after you consume them. 


Toxin Testing

At in2GREAT, we also offer heavy metal testing to see if you will need any special supplements or a detox plan to rid those specific toxins from your body. Since heavy metals can cause depression, anxiety, chronic fatigue, insomnia, and/or digestive problems, it’s important to get this checked.


Ways to Help Your Body’s Detox Organs

Consume cruciferous vegetables, green tea, onions, garlic, and cilantro.

Increase fiber intake to get those bowels moving, so the toxins can be excreted. Increase your intake of vegetables, flaxseeds, legumes, brown rice, and quinoa.

Consume high-quality protein from organic, grass-fed meats and nuts, like walnuts and almonds. 


Consult A Doctor Before Detoxing

Remember that you should always consult a medical and/or nutritional professional before beginning a detox program because there could be potential side effects. 


Potential Side Effects

At the beginning of a detox, you may feel certain side effects from your body trying to rid a large portion of toxins from your body at once. These may last for one day or a couple of days while you are on the detox. However, they should subside afterward, leaving you feeling better than before the detox. Side effects include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Headache
  • Fatigue & Disrupted Sleep Patterns
  • Frequent urination
  • Loose stools & Digestive unrest
  • Cravings
  • Nausea


Get In Contact With a Functional Medicine Provider

Doing a detox can help your body operate more efficiently and improve resilience. If you’re located near Kansas City, functional medicine clinics like in2GREAT can be extremely beneficial to your health. If you want to ensure toxins are not impacting your body, get in touch with in2GREAT at (913) 308-0174.

Dr Corey Priest, DC - Functional medicine practitioner

About the author

Dr. Corey Priest has been practicing functional medicine since 2001. in2GREAT was founded in 2014 by Dr Priest after 13 years of experience with his other practices. Over his career, Dr. Priest has worked with and helped well over 10,000 patients under a functional medicine model.

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