Weight Loss and Detoxification

man running on beach
March 21, 2016
Leigh Erin Connealy, M.D.

Trying to lose weight? Many of my patients are—with my full support.

That’s because beyond feeling self-conscious about how we look, being overweight can cause quite an array of negative side-effects, including:

  • Unreasonable fatigue or mental confusion
  • Sluggish digestion or bloating
  • Allergies and skin irritations
  • Low-grade infections
  • Puffy eyes or bags under the eyes
  • Menstrual problems

But it’s important to recognize two key facts:

  • Being overweight is certainly associated with these symptoms—and yes, can be the cause.
  • Being overweight is also often a symptom itself, telling us that something deeper, something systemic, isn’t working properly to keep you healthy.

Detoxification (detox) and the benefits of “deep cleaning”

No matter where we live, the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the water we drink are loaded with toxins. The word is from the ancient Greek toxon, which originally meant arrow. It later came to mean the poison that coats an arrowhead.

In other words, a toxin is a piercing poison.

The health threats all around us—heavy metals, insecticides, pesticides, chemical pollutants, drugs, food additives, and more—can literally pierce our bodies at the cellular level. Causing virtually every symptom of every unhealthy condition. AND these toxins can make you overweight.


  • Mr. and Ms. Average Joe’s bodies contain more than 400 biologically unnecessary, and often dangerous, chemicals.
  • Their home contains more than 500 such chemicals, many in everyday cleaning products.
  • When the Joes wash up or put on makeup, hundreds of potentially harmful substances lie in wait to pierce their cells and raise hell.

Detox naturally, with a little help from your friends

Fortunately, there’s also good news.

Your body eliminates toxins naturally. Your liver works at it 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. So do your kidneys, intestines, lungs, and lymph nodes. Sweat, urine, and solid waste also eliminate toxins.

But given our modern lifestyles and the toxic environment we live in, your body’s natural detoxification processes can become overloaded. And if your diet and lifestyle are unhealthy, your body can become too overwhelmed to eliminate all of those toxins on its own.

Result? Toxin buildup makes you feel blah—then can make you seriously ill.

That’s why healers throughout history have devised countless ways to help us detox.

Detox and weight loss—a happy, healthy “BOGO (buy one, get one).”

It’s a given in my practice that what affects one part of your body affects all parts.

So it’s no surprise that every detox practice I know of also encourages weight loss. And vice versa.

How could this not be? The most important detox step you can take is to clean up your diet. Eat lots of organic, local, fresh fruits and veggies and eat moderate amounts of healthy fats.

No processed foods, added sugars, or artificial anything. Minimal or no alcohol, coffee, and cigarettes. Try to reduce your use of unnatural household cleaners and grooming or health care products.

Complement an improved diet and toxin-free environment with a healthy detox regimen and you’ll be a detox/weight loss success in no time!

There tends to be a lot of confusion about what a detox is or isn’t. Some of the so-called “detox diets” out there are downright dangerous.

So when you’re ready to dive into a healthy detox practice, these are a few that I recommend:

Brush up—and down: Up to two pounds of toxins leave your body through your skin every day, leaving old skin cells behind. Before your shower or bath, use a long-handled, natural bristle bath brush to first brush your feet, legs, and hands, then your arms, legs, and torso. Your skin will “breathe cleaner” and feel tingly great. Your circulation and your toxin-cleansing lymph flow will also get a boost.

Sweat it: Sweating is an excellent toxin remover, whether from working out or by taking a sauna or steam bath. Sweat can help move those toxins to the surface of your skin where they’ll later be rinsed away in a shower.

Work it: Exercise is a great example of detox and weight loss complementing each other. Body fat contains up to 100 times more toxins than blood, so exercise that burns fat can also help get rid of toxins.

Guzzle it: Drink plenty of fresh, filtered water before, during, and after sweating. It prevents dehydration from all that sweating and it helps your kidneys flush toxins out.

Skip it: Forego solid food and give your liver and digestive system a break with a juice fast. Start with one day of no solid food, just whole juice—skin, seeds and all, from a proper juicer, not an extractor—from nearly any fruit, herb, or veggie, by itself or combined with others.

If it feels good, do it again, for up to 3 days. This lets your body “catch up on the cleaning,” including getting rid of stored fat. Again: detox and weight loss, hand in hand.

Clean up your act

These detoxes are relatively simple, and could be for you—if your doctor gives you the go-ahead.

That goes for beginning any detox practice, of course.

I promise you’ll look and feel much better when you find your detox/weight-loss groove.

Happy spring cleaning!


  • How Intermittent Fasting Might Help You Live a Longer and Healthier Life. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-intermittent-fasting-might-help-you-live-longer-healthier-life/
  • Brooking, K. Do You Need a Detox Diet? http://blogs.webmd.com/food-and-nutrition/2015/03/do-you-need-a-detox-diet.html
  • US Environmental Protection Agency. Initial List of Hazardous Air Pollutants with Modifications. http://www.epa.gov/haps/initial-list-hazardous-air-pollutants-modifications
  • Environmental Working Group (EWG). EWG Cleaners Database Hall of Shame http://static.ewg.org/reports/2012/cleaners_hallofshame/cleaners_hallofshame.pdf
  • Detoxification. http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/detoxification
  • Weil, A. Juice Fast for Weight Loss? http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/QAA401074/Juice-Fast-for-Weight-Loss.html#_ga=1.77035926.2034310935.1421544025

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