Can You Do A Brain Detox? You Can & Probably Should: Here's How
When someone says “detox” what’s the first thing that comes to mind?
Maybe it’s a liquid diet or fasting. Maybe it’s a trip to a sauna or listening to certain music frequencies to clear your head.
Detoxing is as popular as it is timeless. Since humans have been around, we are constantly getting rid of waste and toxins that build up in the body.
And while your body does this naturally, you might be wondering what you can do to support it.
Detoxing your body is one thing, but what about your brain --- is there a way to detox that? And should you? In this article, we’re bringing you a holistic approach to detoxing that covers brain health's physical and mental aspects.
Why Detox Your Brain?
Today’s world isn’t what it used to be --- changes in foods, air pollution, and sedentary lifestyle choices invite more assaults on our health than ever before.
The idea behind detoxing is to remove harmful substances from your body and environment, encouraging optimal health and well-being (1).
When someone considers doing a brain cleanse or brain detox, some of the biggest goals are to (2):
- Improve clarity and productivity
- Feel better mentally and emotionally
Remove toxic thoughts and habits
- Improve their sleep
But how do you do it in a way that’s safe and effective? Some of the clues lie in something called the glymphatic system.
What is the Glymphatic System and How Does it Work?
You’ve probably heard of the lymphatic system before: it’s a system that helps remove toxins and waste from your body.
A similar system was recently discovered in 2012 called the glymphatic system. This network uses a combination of fluids to remove waste products from both your brain and nervous system. It also distributes nutrients to other parts of your body (4).
Here’s how it works. Your brain and nervous system are constantly being washed with cerebrospinal fluid, or CSF. This fluid interacts with the interstitial fluid that surrounds your brain tissue. Together, this system of glymphatic flow helps remove metabolic waste.
Research shows that this system is most active during the night when you’re in deep sleep (5). Because of that, high-quality deep sleep is of the utmost importance for cleansing and detoxing your brain.
Other ways you can support optimal glymphatic function include:
- Getting enough deep-quality sleep
- Regular exercise
- Improving body posture
- Daily omega 3’s in your diet (food sources include walnuts, chia seeds, flax, and fatty fish)
- Intermittent fasting
- Sleeping on your side
- Infrequent, low doses of alcohol
Knowing what helps your glymphatic system is just as important as knowing what harms it. Right now, the 4 biggest factors that are known to negatively affect glymphatic function are:
- Not getting enough sleep
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Chronic, excessive alcohol consumption
How to Do a Physical Brain Detox
Detoxing your brain in the physical sense means adding the right foods to your diet to fuel your body’s natural ability to remove waste.
Anti-inflammatory foods, herbs, and supplements help protect your body’s cells while safely and effectively reducing harmful toxic buildup.
These are some of the best foods, drinks, and supplements to add to your brain detox diet (6):
- Foods: Leafy greens, nuts and seeds, and colorful fruits help boost your body’s waste-removal system and protect your cells against oxidative damage.
- Herbs: Ashwagandha, Valerian root, Kava, Ginger, Turmeric, Rosemary, and Garlic are potent anti-inflammatory herbs.
- Supplements: Melatonin, Vitamin D, Omega-3s and 5HTP may help protect and boost cleansing protocols but don’t use them long-term.
- Juice: Whether you make your own or buy them at the store, juices from cleansing ingredients like kale, ginger, citrus fruits, beets, and celery help facilitate natural detoxing mechanisms.
- Tea: Green teas, matcha, black, and other loose-leaf teas are packed with brain-boosting antioxidants and help protect and prevent oxidative damage.
The idea of resetting your body may sound exhilarating, but proceed with caution. As with any major change, there may be risks and side effects to consider.
Detox Risks and Side Effects
Making drastic changes to your diet and lifestyle creates changes in your thinking, digestion, and energy levels that may come as a surprise. Some of the most common side effects people experience during a detox are (7):
- Confusion or Brain Fog
- Restlessness or Sleep Disruptions
- Intense cravings
- Feelings of anxiety or depression
In some cases, these side effects can be extreme. If you have diabetes, heart disease, or autoimmune disease, caution is warranted, and an extensive brain or body detox may not be for you.
The good news is, many of these physical detoxes can be done gently and over a longer period. When you make it a lifestyle, brain health becomes more enjoyable and easier to do.
How to Do a Mental Brain Detox
In addition to addressing the physical aspect of brain health, detoxing can also have a mental and emotional element.
Recognizing toxic thought patterns or habits is a powerful way to course correct and turn your life around for the better.
- Some of the ways you can do a mental detox include (9):
- Removing or unfollowing people who are always negative
- Journal initial fears or anxieties to talk yourself through later
- Meditate and pray about positive, uplifting things
- Unsubscribe from text or emails that are no longer relevant
- Take time to reflect
- Get outside and leave the phone behind
Having an accountability partner, mentor, or coaching group can help make the most of your new positive habits, as well as keep you from falling back into older, harmful ones.
The process of detoxification has long been used to help flush toxins from your body and promote health.
You may decide to do a brain detox if you’re experiencing brain fog, trouble sleeping, feel tired all the time or realize you need to change some thought patterns in your life. And while your body naturally does this to some extent, there are several things you can do to optimize your brain cleansing mechanisms and enjoy better health.
No matter where you are in your health journey, brain and gut health go hand in hand and are one of the cornerstones of lasting change.
See how hundreds of people are improving their physical and mental health by using a proprietary blend of microbiome superstars here (10).
✝✝This noted statement is based on independent research and is not necessarily the opinion of the author