Detoxing seems to be a very popular subject these days, people ask me regularly about the potential benefits and how they can best detox or cleanse. There are many reasons for wanting to try a detox diet; perhaps you often feel lethargic or tired, or you could be having trouble controlling your cravings, or maybe you have just been overeating and drinking too much lately. It is true that our bodies are exposed to a variety of chemicals and toxins that have the potential to build up in our system, and may cause health problems in the long run. Not only is our environment full of potential toxins, many of us have less than ideal diets, likely consuming more fats, salt, sugar, alcohol, and preservatives than is really recommended. But, do our bodies really need to be “cleansed” or “detoxified” because of this? The answer is a little more complex than a simple yes or no.
The Truth about Extreme Cleanses
You may have seen people touting extreme cleanses that may be dangerous, especially those that require consuming very few calories or no calories at all. Anything too extreme can result in dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, or vitamin deficiencies. Lack of protein can also lead to reduced muscle mass and a slower metabolism, so do not stay on any program that requires avoiding high protein foods for more than a few days. Additionally, beware of any detox program that recommends laxatives or “colon” cleansing products, as these can be harmful and disrupt the delicate balance of bacteria in the digestive system.
These extreme cleanses are not only dangerous, there is actually no significant evidence that regular detoxing is necessary, as the body is already naturally equipped to handle toxins. The liver, digestive system, and kidneys work hard to clear out anything the body considers toxic as soon as possible. These three organs are critically important because our bodies would not function if toxins were really allowed to build up to dangerous levels.
How to Detox the Right Way
Regardless, we can sometimes be guilty of not always eating the healthiest foods or maybe enjoying one too many margaritas here and there. Cutting back a bit on the less than healthy choices for a time, may help you feel better and more energetic. The goal, instead of purchasing expensive detox programs, should be to give your digestive system and other detoxifying organs a break by cleaning up your diet for a few days or weeks. Try to focus on fresh, whole foods, with lots of fiber to help the digestive system work optimally. Drink lots of water to help the kidneys flush out any toxins. Consider a milk thistle supplement, which contains a substance called silymarin, used regularly to detoxify the liver. During this reset time your diet should consist of fruits and vegetables, preferably organic. Next add some grass-fed beef, organic chicken, or fish that is low in mercury. Eat only whole grains like steel cut oatmeal or quinoa. Eliminate all processed foods, sugar, and sweetened beverages. Lastly avoid alcohol and caffeine and drink 8 glasses of water daily. Cleaning up your diet and giving your body the raw materials it needs will help you naturally detoxify without any extreme measures.