It’s not unusual for people to want to flush out toxins from the body by drinking water. Toxins are a normal part of life, and your body already does a good job of removing harmful substances via the liver, kidneys, colon, and skin. However, can water actually help remove harmful substances (toxins) from the body? Let’s find out.
Water can “flush” out toxins by helping the kidney and liver to efficiently remove wastes from your body. Waste and toxic products like sweat and stool also require adequate water for easy movement until they are expelled from the body.
This article explains the process of detoxification in the body and how water contributes to it. We’ll also discuss the kinds of toxins that are present in the body, where they come from, and how they can affect your health. We’ll also cover how water aids in detoxifying the body, how much you water you need to drink, and other ways to help in the detoxification process. There’s lots to cover.
What is detoxification and how does it work?
Detoxification is the process of cleansing the blood of harmful substances.
Natural detoxification means getting rid of wastes generated within the body system. Medical detoxification means neutralizing the effect of poisonous substances or harmful metabolites from drugs using procedures like dialysis or other cleansing antidotes.
Impurities will be removed from the blood by the liver, where toxins are naturally processed for elimination. The kidney removes wastes, excess fluids, and acids from the body, specifically in the form of urine.
The National Institute of Health (NIH) gives a brief description of your kidneys and how they work if you would like to learn more about this mechanism of waste removal.
This helps to maintain a healthy balance of salt, water, and other minerals within the body.
Other organs or body systems involved in detoxification include:
- Lungs (expels toxic gases like carbon dioxide),
- Digestive system (breaks down and removes undigested food through stool),
- Lymphatic system (neutralizes and destroys biological foreign invaders like viruses), and
- Skin (releases toxins through sweat).
Waste and impurities will be properly eliminated from the bloodstream if the functionality of these organs are not compromised.
Common toxins in the body
Imagine if everyone had free access to clean drinking water, clean and polluted air, fresh food, and a stress-free lifestyle. That would be amazing, right?
This is, however, far from reality. Most people lead a hectic life that exposes them to high levels of stress, packaged foods, alcohol, and certain harmful drugs.
Toxins present in your body come from different sources and are expelled through different routes.
- Metabolic wastes naturally produced from cellular activities,
- Excess water or salts in the blood,
- Poisonous substances from the atmosphere, and
- Residual waste from food consumption and digestion.
The list below summarizes common toxins found in the body, with information on where they come from and how the body removes them.
1. Cellular metabolic wastes (e.g., lactic acid, CO2, excess electrolytes)
These wastes are generated from cellular activities like respiration, blood circulation, and energy generation. High levels of stress can also create these toxins.
Impact on health: Excess fluids or electrolytes create an imbalance in the body system, and can cause joint and muscle aches, high blood pressure, and can even cause deadly conditions like hyponatremia,
Control/management: The kidney filters the blood continuously for toxins that are released from cellular activities. The residues from filtration are removed from the body in the form of urine, and this process is especially dependent on the body being hydrated.
2. Drug or therapeutic intermediates and residues
These are generated from prescriptions, radiation therapy, alcohol, and other forms of medication. Incomplete metabolism or processing of these treatments leave residues that are harmful to normal body function.
Impact on health: Prolonged exposure of the body to harmful drug compounds causes malfunction of organs including the liver and kidney. Conditions like kidney stones and liver toxicity could arise from such exposure.
Control/management: The liver is the main organ for drug metabolism. It breaks down the compound for distribution, and with the help of the kidney, removes harmful residues through urine. Staying hydrated also improves the function of the liver.
3. Food components (e.g., mycotoxins, colorants, preservatives, etc.)
These toxins include chemical compounds from solid foods, fruits, vegetables, or beverages. Improper cleaning of the food before consumption could also expose you to harmful organisms and chemicals. Find out what the World Health Organization says about natural food toxins.
Impact on health: Retaining undigested food substances in the body could lead to gastrointestinal disorders, constipation, and sometimes bloating.
Toxins from the surface of the food can also cause infections or aggravate existing conditions, e.g., peptic ulcer, allergies, reproductive complications, etc.
Control/management: The digestive system breaks down ingested food to soluble and usable forms. Undigested products are then removed in the form of stool.
4. Environmental pollutants (e.g. dust, fumes, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds)
These toxins are typically obtained from cigarettes, automobiles, industrial activities, and household wastes.
Impact on health: Prolonged exposure to these toxins causes respiratory and cardiovascular health conditions. It could be as simple as a mild cough, or as painful as an asthmatic condition.
Control/management: Preventive measures like reducing exposure and maintaining a clean environment, are used to manage these kinds of pollutants. It is also important to stay hydrated to enable the body to detoxify more efficiently.
How much water should I drink to flush out toxins?
Staying hydrated does more than contribute to flushing out toxins. It helps in lubricating the joints, maintaining organ functions, weight loss, brain functionality, and so on.
There is no specific amount of water you need to drink to flush out toxins. Every individual, depending on age, gender, lifestyle, health status, and other factors, requires varying amounts of water.
Listen to your body and let it guide your water intake.
You can also seek the help of a trusted medical professional to ensure that you’re not consuming water in a quantity that may be harmful to you.
There’s also the option to monitor your urine color: if it looks transparent, you may be drinking too much water.
What is a water detox?
Detox generally means creating a suitable condition that supports your normal bodily functions. A water detox means using water to support this process. It involves drinking enough water to effectively eliminate toxic substances from the body and aid in the rejuvenation of cells.
Water detox, or detox water, has also been used to describe the use of infused water; water containing fresh fruit, vegetables, or specific supplements, as an aid to detoxification.
The truth is: with or without these additions, water is very capable of helping your body in the toxin removal process. However, fruit and vegetables infusions may help with the blandness of water, and may contributes a small amount of nutrients for the body.
There is no scientifically proven water detoxification program.
The liver is capable of breaking down toxins from food or drugs and making them soluble for easy removal from the body. The kidney is tasked with the removal of wastes from the body and maintenance of fluid balance.
If you’re dehydrated, these organs tend to panick and hold on to whatever water available, which may also contain some body waste.
Water helps body detoxification by enabling your cells to repair more rapidly and to generate energy. Water helps in the breakdown of toxic substances and assists in the transportation of wastes (toxins) from sites of metabolism to the sites of expulsion.
Urination, breathing, sweating, and passing stool are the pathways for toxin removal from the body. The more hydrated you are, the easier the detoxification process, and the healthier you are. Importantly, there are few negative effects of water intake according to the National Institute of Health (NIH).
Other natural ways to flush out toxins
Exercises engage your joints, heart, and your brain. Among the numerous benefits of exercises like burning fat and staying fit, there’s one more thing you get from it.
Remember the skin is one of the main organs that removes toxins from the body, so, the more you sweat, the higher your chances of flushing out toxins. A consistent 15-20 minute daily routine is enough to keep you healthy.
2. Eat healthy
Healthy food and water are important for keeping your body in shape. However, many people still find it difficult to find the time to eat healthy. There’s a lot of alternatives like packaged foods, canned products, semi-processed condiments, and junk food.
While these foods are not entirely forbidden, it is necessary to invest in nutrient-dense diets especially:
- Fruits and berries
- Fresh food that hasn’t been subjected to canning or processing
- Dark leafy vegetables such as kale
- Fresh herbs and spices like ginger and turmeric
- Fibrous foods rich in antioxidants.
Avoiding packaged foods means you’ll be consuming less preservatives, flavor enhancers, processed sugars, and coloring agents. Healthy foods enhance the natural detoxification process of your body.
3. Sleep well
Sleep is a very important part of life. It contributes to proper behavioral and cognitive function, as well as metabolic activities. Waste products accumulate in the body throughout the day.
When you get enough sleep, the brain recharges itself, reorganizes itself, and eliminates these by-products.
With adequate sleep, you reduce toxins that can have a negative effect on your cognitive abilities. Andy R. Eugene and Jolanta Masiak wrote in detail about the relationship between sleep and the brain and it’s relationship with toxin elimination.
4. Manage the air you breath
It may be hard to control the quality of air you breath on the way to work.
However, you can improve the air quality within your home:
- Reduce the use of aerosols that are high in volatile organic compounds
- Use an air purifier with HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter (on Amazon)
- Manage dust by frequent and scheduled house cleaning
- Ensure proper ventilation when working with products like paint
- Use environmentally friendly mattresses or rugs (found on Amazon)
- Don’t allow smoke inside the house
Benefits of detoxification
The body is always working to remove unwanted substances and maintain optimal health. However, external factors like poor food choices, environmental toxins, and stress are ongoing issues.
No matter how strong the natural detoxification process may be, it is still necessary to give your body the best chance at getting rid of toxins by staying hydrated.
There are many benefits to detoxification. Some of them include:
- Reduces susceptibility to diseases: Prolonged exposure to toxins can cause severe health conditions. Reproductive and respiratory malfunction, gastrointestinal disorders, organ damage; to mention a few. Aiding detoxification by drinking enough water can help prevent or reduce their risk.
- Improved strength and energy: Assisting your body to flush out toxins gives it an avenue to spend less energy. Drinking water, eating, and sleeping healthy also prevents random spikes of nutrients or sugar in your body which reduces recurrence of tiredness and sluggishness.
- Improved physical appearance: “You are what you eat”, or in this case, “what you drink”. That is not far from the truth. Some of the manifestations of toxins in the body are skin breakouts and brittle nails. When you flush out the harmful toxins in your body, it has an opportunity to heal both internally and externally, and this always reflects on your appearance.
- Stronger Immunity: Remember, detoxification provides enough energy to perform other activities rather than breaking down toxic substances. This energy allows your body to reset and replenish itself with certain nutrients, some of which gives your immune system a boost. Stronger immunity equals lower risks of diseases.
- Accelerated weight loss: Weight loss usually isn’t top of the mind when embarking on a detoxification journey. But it always comes as an added benefit. You’re drinking enough water, eating healthy, sleeping well, performing exercises, and being conscious not to expose your body to harm. All of these are similar recipes to losing weight. For more details on this, check out our post on how water helps with weight loss.
Other benefits include:
- Improved digestion
- Focused thinking or mental clarity which improves productivity
- Reduced inflammation
- Improved blood circulation
- Balanced emotions, i.e., reduced chances of depression and demotivation.
Every day you are exposed to toxins. It could be from what you eat, what you drink, the air you inhale, or the lifestyle you lead.
Water is an essential part of life. It contributes to virtually every physical, biochemical, and physiological activities around you.
Stay healthy and hydrated!