Detox Diets and Cleanses: Fab or Fad?
Over the past few years I’ve noticed detox diets and cleanse diets have undergone a resurgence in popularity. Have you heard the chatter, too?
Right about when spring flowers bloom my friends start sharing their plans for a spring “detox” – you know, their temporary diet plan aimed to purge the junk, provide a radical reboot and help shed all those unwanted winter pounds.
But are detox and cleanse diets really that helpful?
First, what is “detox” anyway?
Please don’t be misinformed about the word “detox”. Says Berkeley Wellness,
Today… “detox” has become a catchall term for any number of non-traditional diets, fasts, or procedures that proponents claim reset your metabolism, remove unwanted pounds, and eliminate so-called “toxins” from the body.
Simply stated, “detox” means that you are clearing something of excess.
In our context, the something you are clearing is your body; the excess you are clearing is toxic waste.
The body is wonderfully designed to clear out waste, including metabolic waste from normal, everyday cellular functions, as well as toxic pollutants we come in contact with in our environment.
However, common waste becomes toxic waste when the body’s ability to eliminate and detoxify is impaired due to poor nutrition, poor body function and an overwhelming exposure to thousands of known chemicals in our environment.
Recent studies show the average person accumulates more than 700 harmful chemicals in his/her body over the course of a lifetime! Source
(This includes industrial compounds, pollutants, PCBs, insecticides, dioxin, mercury, oxybenzone and benzene… just to name a few. You can read more about the tests performed by the Center for Disease Control here and here, which reveal just how hefty our chemical burden load is!)
As the body becomes more toxic and polluted from the burden of environmental contaminates, it’s ability to “detox” becomes sluggish, creating the perfect environment for disease. Brain fox, fatigue, insomnia, autoimmune disease, allergies, headaches, impaired immunity, asthma… all of these – and more! – are known descendants of a toxic body.
So, “detox” diets should be good for you, right?
Detox is a function, NOT a diet.
Recognizing detoxification as a function the body does every second of every day in an attempt to maintain health is a vital first step in answering the question of whether detox diets / cleanse diets are healthy.
Since the body is continuously detoxifying, it makes sense that we should support that process continually, too. Not just for 10 days, 2-weeks or every Spring.
Detox diets DO inspire the consumption of healthy, real food, which is absolutely essential for maintaining health and prohibiting the formation of disease.
However, detox diets rarely inspire long-term, healthy eating habits. And many can actually be dangerous because they eliminate critical nutrients like protein. This can lead to malnutrition and further nutrient deficiencies that weaken the body.
Daily supporting the body’s detoxification processes is better than any short-term “detox” diet.
The effectiveness of a real food, healthy diet, coupled with adequate sleep, daily exercise, fresh air and sunshine is incomparable to any fad detox diet plan. This lifestyle supports the body’s quest for balance and health and supplies the tools needed to eliminate waste and ease the toxic burden.
Here are a few ways you can support detoxification daily with what you eat:
:: Include daily servings of cruciferous vegetables. Cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, bok choi, kale, turnips, arugula – all of these vegetables contain sulfur, which is an important component in the liver’s production of glutathione, one of the body’s most powerful detoxifying agents.
:: Drink a daily glass of fresh-pressed vegetable juice (with a green apple for sweetness) an hour prior to breakfast to provide an easily absorbed form of iron, magnesium, potassium and calcium for the body. These nutrients are deficient for a majority of the population.
Daily support of the body’s elimination processes is also very important!
:: Drink lots of water to hydrate the cells of the body and flush waste out through the kidneys. Aim for 6-8 glasses a day!
:: Eat foods containing high amounts of fiber, both soluble and insoluble. Vegetables and fruits (think raw or lightly-cooked) are ideal additions to the diet because they contain water and fiber, both key for proper elimination. Freshly ground flax seeds are also an excellent choice. Not only are they high in fiber but flax balances hormones and supports male and female reproductive health. A win-win!
:: Don’t forget exercise is a great detoxifier, too. The lymphatic system, which plays a key role in eliminating toxins from the inter-cellular spaces in body tissue, relies on muscular contractions to circulate lymphatic fluid and reach every nook and cranny for collection of cellular waste material. And all elimination organs of the body work harder and more efficiently when the heart rate is increased.
Lastly, work with a professional to correct any detoxification or elimination concerns.
If you are considering a detox or cleanse as a way of improving a health concern you’re facing, I encourage you to seek the help of an alternative medicine professional who can guide you in uncovering the root of your health issue.
Holistic health professionals can even identify specific areas of toxicity in the body and recommend cleansing approaches that are unique to your needs. This ensures effective healing of the underlying issue and the eradication of symptoms.
My tip for the day? Avoid short-lived fads and emphasize long-term solutions in order to feel great and build a healthy body!
It’s time to THRIVE!