Detoxification 101: 14 Symptoms Of Toxic Buildup In The Body

By Tina Paymaster, PHASE IV Functional Nutrition & Health Specialist


Detoxes and cleanses are more popular now than ever. While many health experts support regular detoxing programs, others say they are pointless because our bodies naturally detoxify.

While the latter is true, if the optimal environment isn’t created for these natural processes to happen, toxic buildup will be the result.

Detoxification is how our body gets rid of waste that can otherwise cause inflammation and a whole slew of diseases. The three main ways our body detoxifies are through sweat, urine and stool. For women, menstruation is also a form of detoxification.

Detoxification protocols typically involve cleansing and supporting the liver and gall bladder as these organs are our main detoxification organs and help the body metabolize toxic substances, which is essentially anything that the body can’t utilize for and hinders the basic processes needed to maintain optimal health. Proper detoxification protocols should also include strengthening of the health of the gut, which includes healing the gut lining and supporting the diversity and proliferation of beneficial bacteria.


1. Chronic digestive issues

As mentioned above, efficient elimination is essential to optimal health. 80% of the immune system lies in the gut so if your digestive system is not in good shape, you will accumulate toxins in your body and your health will suffer. Researchers are not attributing 95% of all diseases to complications within the gut. If you’re experiencing chronic gas, bloating, heartburn, constipation. diarrhea or food sensitivities it’s a good idea to speak to a qualified medical or health professional to find out the root cause of your symptoms.

2. Fatigue

If you’re tired all the time despite eating healthy and exercising, there’s a good chance you have some toxic accumulation in your body. A 2013 investigation found that the presence of mycotoxins (stemming from water-based mold) was a factor in over 90% of chronic fatigue cases they studied. However, if your body is efficient at delivering nutrients to the cells and eliminating waste, you should feel balanced energy throughout the day. Another potential cause for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome may be persistent viral infections that weaken the immune system.

3. Anxiety and depression

Research has confirmed the gut-brain connection. Toxic buildup in the body weakens the immune system and increases the chance of infection and illness, which alters the diversity of bacteria in the gut. There have been numerous studies linking intestinal bacteria to anxiety and depression and proving that many mood disorders can be treated by normalizing bacteria in the gut.

4. Skin issues

Your outside reveals what’s happening on the inside. If you suffer from acne, rosacea, eczema or any other chronic skin issue, it’s very likely that there is toxic sludge working it’s way through the skin. When waste is not eliminated efficiently through stool and urine, the body may try to get rid of it through the skin. Instead of throwing hundreds of dollars towards expensive creams and ointments that try to treat these issues from the outside, look to improving your body’s digestive and detoxification processes to heal at the root.

5. Muscle/joint aches and pains

When gut health is impaired, undigested particle of food can cause gaps in the intestinal wall lining leading to a condition called leaky gut. These food particles are allowed to enter the blood stream where they can cause a series of inflammatory reactions. In addition, they can lodge themselves in weak areas of the joints which can cause pain and increased muscle soreness. Supporting proper digestion and detoxification can help to cleans toxins from the joints and muscles and heal the gut lining.

6. Cravings / Blood sugar imbalances

Excess sugar in the diet not only causes blood glucose imbalances, but is also the preferred source of food for fungus and parasites in the body. In fact, Candida, a fungus that lives in the human body can cause intense sugar cravings and other symptoms if allowed to proliferate. Packaged and processed foods can also cause unstable blood sugar and leptin levels which can lead to cravings and overeating. Lastly, excess sugar causes fat to build up in liver cells, decreasing its ability to metabolize fats, sugars and toxins.

7. Insomnia

Every organ in the body has a peak time at which they perform most of their work. For the liver, this is typically sometime between 2-6am. If you have trouble getting restful sleep and often find yourself waking up in the middle of the night, this may be a sign that your liver is struggling at detoxifying.

8. Bad breath/body odor/foul-smelling stool

Modern society tries to mask body odor and bad breath by pushing mints and deodorant. However, body odor, bad breath and foul-smelling stool are not normal and in fact indicate that you have sluggish digestion and a congested liver. Bad breath is usually a symptom of dysbiosis – an imbalance of the good and bad bacteria in the gut. Sweat itself does not smell. Body odor comes from skin bacteria breaking down the sweat released from sweat glands. If your body doesn’t have a healthy balance of bacteria, due to a high toxic load, this may be why.

9. Increased belly fat

Visceral fat, the fat that is stored within the abdominal cavity, is the most dangerous kind of fat, because of the proximity to your vital organs such as your liver, pancreas and stomach. This fat is not easily seen as it exists deep below the surface of the skin. Visceral fat is also knows as “active fat” as it influences how hormones function in the body. Stress, lack of exercise and a poor diet can all contribute to excess visceral fat. The more visceral fat someone has, the higher their risk for certain diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, breast and colorectal cancer, and heart disease. A body composition exam that measures your waist-to-hip ratio is a beneficial in measuring your risk for heart disease and there metabolic conditions.

10. Fluid retention/congestion

Diet, hormone imbalances, sedentary lifestyle, certain medications and genetics can all contribute to fluid retention and congestion in the body. These can all stagnate the lymphatic system. If the lymphatic system, which is part of the circulatory system, is congested, this can cause pain and swelling in various areas of the body as well. The primary function of the lymphatic system is to transport lymph, a clear fluid that contains white blood cells important for regulating inflammation in the body.

11. Brain fog

If you have trouble focusing or remembering things, you may be experiencing brain fog, which can be the result of toxic overload, leaky gut syndrome and/or food allergies. When digestion is hampered due to toxic overload, the body can’t eliminate waste fast enough, which can cause inflammation and affect the manufacturing of neurotransmitters. In addition, if the lining of the intestines is damaged, this can allow foreign particles to seep through the blood-brain barrier affecting cognitive function.

12. Chronic headaches

While headaches can sometimes be caused by structural issues, many times chronic headaches are the result of imbalances in the body that occur as a result of toxic overload and obstructions in the detoxification pathways.

13. Menstrual issues/PMS

Hormone imbalances are typically the result of stress and poor diet. Both can cause inflammation and throw the natural balance of your body off leading to painful or heavy menstrual cycles, fertility issues, fibroids, cysts and other hormone-related issues.

14. Dark circles under eyes

While dark circles can be the result of aging, lack of sleep or genetics, they can also be caused of liver malfunction, nutrient deficiencies, anemia, allergies and dehydration.

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it would be a good idea to begin keeping a detailed food diary for at least 3-5 days to see what foods may be contributing to your symptoms. It’s also a good idea to evaluate your lifestyle such as stress, sleep and daily physical activity to assess what areas you can begin making changes to support your body’s detoxification processes.


While poor diet and lifestyle habits will definitely contribute to toxic buildup in the boy, there are many other factors that can as well. Stay tuned next week as we continue this series on Detoxification 101 to find out the other culprits that can be wracking havoc on your body.

Feeling off? If you’re interested in receiving personalized nutrition support, contact us for a complimentary consultation to learn more about our nutrition programs designed to help optimize your metabolism and health. Call 310-582-8212 to schedule.

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