Everywhere I look, people are talking detox. Detox plans, detox diets, detox drinks, detox foods. Why all of this detoxification?
There seems to be a psyche in the American culture where we gorge on less-than-nutritious foods at the holidays, then purge ourselves of it in January. The mentality of the average person struggling with their weight is somewhat of an addiction cycle, where we feel ashamed of the way we ate or behaved and go to extremes to rid ourselves of the damage. This is not healthy nor is it sustainable.
Taking advantage of this mentality, detox plans and detox diets pop up all over the place, making you think that you have to do something extreme, like drink nothing but fruit juices or take a “cleanse” pill for a week to rid yourself of these alleged toxins. Celebrities tout their detoxes and cleanses all the time in national media, and millions take their word as gospel and delve right in without really understanding what they are doing.
What is a Detox Diet?
Detoxification, according to these programs, is supposed to help the body cleanse the chemicals and toxins that enter our system everyday from our food and environment. Most claim that you will lose weight through detoxification because the detox will somehow rev your metabolism.
They generally have the dieter on an extremely low calorie food plan, consisting of anything from fruit and veggie juices to lemonade to cayenne pepper to cabbage soup. Do they work? As far as weight loss….maybe. But the weight lost will be mostly water and muscle, and quickly gained back once the cleanse is over. Muscle loss = lower metabolism.
There is also no scientific evidence to back up the claims of toxin removal. In short, these are just another gimmick promising fast results (one diet I saw claimed you would lose 21 pounds in 21 days…if you didn’t eat your arm off first!).
Most are downright dangerous to your health, with low blood sugar, diarrhea, headache, fatigue, and dehydration as common side effects. In addition, these processes can rid the body of the good bacteria of the intestines, causing reduced immunity and more illness!
Detoxification already happens naturally in our bodies, through our own organs. The kidneys, liver, skin, and intestines are our built-in defense system against toxins. To aid our own body’s natural functions, we need only to provide it with the tools it needs to function properly:
- Drink Water. Water aids the kidneys and liver in their job of removing toxins from our blood and flushing them out of our bodies by increasing their efficiency. The kidneys need water to create urine, which ushers the waste and toxins from our bodies. Drinking 8-10 glasses per day is recommended, more in dry climates or with vigorous activity.
- Eat lots of fruit and vegetables, preferably organic and in a wide range of colors. The nutrients found in plant food are essential in the functioning of our toxin-removing organs. Most of the nutrients derived from plants cannot be made naturally by our bodies, which means it’s even more essential to receive them in our diet. Without them, important detoxifying enzymatic processes cannot take place. Eating organic produce will also reduce your exposure to harmful pesticides, putting less stress on the liver and kidneys.
- Eat foods high in fiber. Fiber binds itself to toxins and waste in the intestines and pulls them out of the body. Foods rich in fiber are seeds, nuts, legumes, whole grains, fruit, and vegetables. Here are 11 ways to get more fiber in your diet.
- Eat antioxidant rich foods. Antioxidants find and destroy free radicals, which are unstable molecules that cause damage and disease to cells. Foods rich in antioxidants are citrus fruits, carrots, leafy and cruciferous vegetables, green tea, and berries.
- Exercise. Exercise increases blood flow and oxygen to all parts of the body, which in turns keeps them healthy and functioning properly.
Notice anything? Detox = keeping your body healthy and functioning properly = eat lots of colorful nutrient dense foods, drink water, and exercise — a healthy lifestyle! The answer to ridding your body of all the scary chemicals, pesticides, and toxins is just to keep it healthy. There is no cleanse, no detox “diet” that can even come close to what a healthy and balanced lifestyle will do.
What are some of the detox diets you’ve tried? What were your results?