Can Your Body Detox by Exercising?

Is sweating a relevant process to detox the body? 

Our bodies, our beautiful machines. Gorgeous, harmonious, perfect machines. But sometimes we  become weighed down by toxins and our bodies crave to hit the reset button. Enter the body detox. It is a way for the body to naturally cleanse itself by eliminating harmful toxins and resting vital organs. And because we all want to feel our best, we find ourselves constantly searching for the “perfect” detoxification process.

I have been reading a lot on the process of eliminating toxins through sweat and exercise and, I have to be honest, find it all a little confusing.  One article mentions sweat being an effective way to detox while another says it’s all a myth. So which one is it?

The body contains organs that help eliminate toxins, the liver helps breakdown and filter substances from the bloodstream, the kidneys play an important role in excreting byproducts from our urine, and the gastrointestinal tract is designed to get rid of waste our body cannot use. But does the body also excrete toxins through our pores via sweat as well? In a US News article, Dr. Rachel Vreeman, author and assistant professor of pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine states, “sweating definitely would not be the way to go about it. The primary reason we sweat is to regulate the body temperature. When moisture produced by the sweat glands evaporates, it cools the body.” She goes on to say, “Though the main component of sweat is water, sweat does contain small amounts of dissolved minerals and trace elements, including sodium, lactate, urea, potassium, calcium, magnesium, zinc, copper, nickel, iron, chromium – none of which are considered toxic.” In another article, released by the Huffington Post, Dr. Dee Anna Glaser, a professor of dermatology at St. Louis University and founding member of the International Hyperhidrosis Society, a medical group dedicated to the study and treatment of heavy sweating, confirms that sweat only contains a trace amount of toxins and “sweating for the sake of sweating has no benefits. Sweating heavily is not going to release a lot of toxins.” Ok, that seems simple enough – sweat glands are there to keep you cool. Got it.

But a 2011 study published in the Archives of Environmental and Contamination Toxicology reads, “Many toxic elements appeared to be preferentially excreted through sweat. Presumably stored in tissues, some toxic elements readily identified in the perspiration of some participants were not found in their serum. Induced sweating appears to be a potential method for elimination of many toxic elements from the human body.” Hence my earlier confession to confusion!

So here we sit, informed yet none the wiser. If I base my opinion in my own experience, I have to admit that I feel better after a sweat in the gym or a session in the sauna. My skin feels more fresh and my body feels lighter. So until we have a conclusive idea on the detox debate, I will continue to go off of my own learned experience. In addition, I would love to hear about your experiences on this situation.


+ How do you feel about the subject? Feel free to share in the comments.

Model: Shelby Keeton. Follow Joanna on Instagram.

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