Because I talk a lot about toxins and the need to help our bodies clear toxins, there’s a type of question that I get a lot, and it goes something like this:

Why do we really need to do “cleanses”, or “detoxes”? Don’t our bodies just detox on their own? It’s a natural process, right? What’s the big deal?

These are such good questions!

And to answer them, I’ll tell you first about how toxins get into us, and the types of toxins we’re dealing with nowadays and the unique challenges associated with them. And then, I’ll share with you how you can boost your natural detox processes to help lower your body’s burden of the ever-accumulating quantity of destructive modern toxins.

How They Get In

When we’re exposed to toxins, the main ways that they get into our bodies are:

  • through our nose and mouth (breathing, drinking and eating)
  • through contact with our skin, and
  • through contact with our blood (injections, infusions, and transfusions)

how toxins get in

Once toxins get into our bodies, the ways that we detox naturally are primarily through our urine (kidneys and bladder), our stool (digestive system), and our sweat (skin).

Secondarily, we also do some detoxing through our breath, our saliva, and our tears, but those are pretty minor. Mostly, it’s the first three.

Toxins, Then and Now

Throughout our millions of years of human history, the predominant toxins that we had to deal with were dust, and woodsmoke (from cooking, and from fires to heat our living spaces), and infections. That was pretty much it, for a long, long time. And human bodies could do a pretty good job of dealing with those, in general (although infections and their toxic byproducts have always been a challenge and probably always will be…) But dust, smoke and infections were the vast majority of our toxin exposure, right up until the 1800s.

Then came the Industrial Revolution, and there was an uptick in our exposure to toxins – from contamination of the air with factory smoke, and contamination of food and water from industrial solvents and waste products, and from an increase in infections due to more crowded, unsanitary living and working conditions.

Then, fast forward to just after World War II, when we saw a big increase in our exposure to toxins because of man-made chemicals. And these toxins, oh my goodness, are they big trouble for our bodies. There’s so many of these toxins now – and since the 1950s the number has been increasing exponentially – and they just keep accumulating in our world more and more every year. So the sheer quantity of toxins is a huge problem, and our natural detox processes just cannot keep up!

And, on top of that, we are just not designed to get rid of these man-made toxins effectively. It’s not what we were made for. We were made for detoxifying from dust, woodsmoke, and infections. And in fact, these man-made toxins – which are called Xenobiotics, meaning foreign to our biology – the molecular structure of xenobiotics, the way that they are put together, makes them intrinsically very difficult for our bodies to get rid of, and they don’t break down readily. They’re “sticky”, so they get stuck inside of us, and they are long-lived. So, they are getting into us, in ever-increasing quantities, and getting stuck, and then accumulating – just piling up inside of us, year after year.

What has happened over the last 70 years is that we’ve had this ever-increasing number of xenobiotics piling up in our environment, that we’re getting exposed to all the time through our air, our water, and our food. We breath them in, they touch our skin and get absorbed into our bloodstreams, we ingest them when we eat and drink. And we’re not built to get rid of them, and because there’s more all the time, they’re piling up all the time, and our bodies are not keeping up with taking out all that garbage. So what we’re seeing, especially in the last 20 years, is that the human race has reached a tipping point where many of us are having a lot of symptoms that can be traced back to too many toxins and not enough detoxifying.

Symptoms of Toxicity

Are you curious to know what symptoms indicate toxin overload?

Then check out my infographic, Signs of Toxicity, where you’ll learn more about what to look for so you can tell whether you really need to detox.

So, coming back to that question, why do we need to help our bodies detox? And now you know that it’s because we have way more toxins in our modern world than we ever have before, and because those toxins are difficult to get rid of and very damaging.

What To Do About It

The first order of business is to work on improving your 3 chief avenues of toxin elimination – the peeing, pooping and sweating – to help increase and improve your internal housecleaning. Get those avenues wide open to help your body get out the junk AMAP & ASAP. Makes sense, right? I call this “opening the exits”. And most of us don’t have all our exits fully open all the time.

How do we open the exits?

Pee more, poop more, and sweat more!

What does that look like, in every day life? What should you be aiming for?


You want to be hydrating well enough every day, with enough plain, filtered water, so that you are peeing 6-8 times per day, which is roughly every 2 hours during the day. How much water is that? Here’s a rough guide for you:


You also want to be having 2-3 easy (but still formed), complete-feeling bowel movements every day. If you’re not, then you’re not taking out the garbage enough, so you want to work on that.


And as far as sweating goes, these days, many people’s lifestyles are pretty sedentary, and we’re not breaking a good sweat every day. A good goal is 30 minutes a day of sweating, either through exercise – any kind that makes you sweat – or sauna, or a steamroom, or even a nice long hot shower or hot bath. Even 10 minutes a day can help (though 30 minutes is better).

And the interesting thing about sweating is, some xenobiotics only leave the body via sweat. Not through peeing or pooping, not through breathing or crying. Just from sweating.

What’s Next?

Ok, so, now that you know more about how your body detoxes naturally, how to help your body with detoxing, and why your body needs your extra help getting all these nasty xenobiotics out of you, AMAP & ASAP, you might be wondering, what else can you do?

And the answer is, you can get yourself a copy of my book, Dr Emily’s Detox Cookbook, chock full of great information and recipes, and start implementing what you’ll learn there, and using the recipes in your everyday life.

Happy detoxing! 😊