It is not uncommon to hear about friends or family members going on a detox, especially after the holidays. The practice is touted for its numerous health benefits and over the years, new ways of cleansing or ridding the body of its toxins have been praised and promoted as a surefire way to lose weight, and to look and feel better.
What is Detox?
Before we jump into what exactly a detox or a cleanse is and how it affects the body, it important to distinguish these terms and understand how they differ from each other. Usually the words ‘detox’ and ‘cleanse’ are used interchangeably and although they are similar in their definition of removing toxins from the body, they have different meanings.
A cleanse utilises supplements or pills to remove toxins from the body, while a detox acts more like a process that supports and boosts the body’s natural detoxification system. In simple terms, detoxing is the practice of eradicating toxins, which are typically found in the blood, from the body, often through a highly nutritious liquid diet. However, do note that there are many ways to detox. The process of detoxification is aimed at cleansing your body and then subsequently nourishing it with essential nutrients to keep your body functioning at its peak.
However, it may come as no surprise that our body comes with its own inbuilt detox system. For instance, our kidneys rid our bodies of digestive by-products like uric acid and mineral buildup, our skin sweats out toxins and our lungs filter the air we breathe. Other organs that are responsible for toxin removal include our intestines, lymphatic system and liver.
So the question is, why shouldn’t we just leave it to our livers to remove the toxins in our body? Although our bodies do an impressive job of keeping our bodies toxin-free, impurities are not always filtered properly. In a sense, a detox is like a helping hand, assisting in the cleansing efforts of the body. Our lifestyles also play a key role in exacerbating the situation even further. Be it the environment we are exposed to, the polluted air we breathe, or even the diet we adhere to, our internal systems sometimes face an overload and are not always up to the task at hand.
Before you embark on a detox, eliminate coffee, alcohol, cigarettes and foods and beverages filled with refined sugars and saturated fats. It would defeat the purpose of going on a detox, if you were consuming these foods or engaging in these practices.
There are several detox methods that are natural, yet potent enough to clear impurities from the system. Bitter greens and chlorophyll juices including wheat grass and dandelion greens are great for cleansing the liver. Incorporate these ingredients with other liver-friendly foods such as beets and carrots to reap the full benefits of this liver detox.
If you’re worried about being fatigued or low in energy during a detox, you can try a simple liquid detox comprised of fresh organic fruits and vegetables. Alternatively, you can also go on a juice fast for three days or longer to thoroughly remove toxins in your system. A juice fast consisting of dark green leafy vegetables, apples, carrots, kale, pineapple, beets and celery will ensure that your body flushes out most of the impurities in your blood.
If a juice or liquid detox does not appeal to you, there are other ways to detox, as well. The raw or alkaline food detox or diet is one way you can avoid liquid fasting and still reap the benefits of a regular liquid detox. This diet basically focuses on re-balancing pH levels and keeps it within the alkaline spectrum. Since the optimum pH level of our body is 7.30 to 7.45, this diet will keep our bodies functioning at their peak.
While on this detox, you must adhere to a diet mainly consisting of uncooked fruits and vegetables. You can throw in some nuts, seeds and sprouts for added flavour and texture, as well. The raw food detox is said to be one of the best ways to clean out the colon, liver and other systems in the body.
You could also take on the candida diet, which requires you to eliminate the consumption of sugar, gluten, coffee and alcohol and increasing the intake of fermented foods, gluten-free grains, healthy fats and oils, and vegetables.
The candida diet is mainly aimed at preventing the overgrowth of candida, a type of fungus that lives in the body’s microbiome — in the intestinal tract and the skin. Candida feeds off from sugar and refined starches and is seen as the main culprit for causing a number of symptoms such as fungal infections in various parts of the body, yeast infections, mood swings, weakened immune system, psoriasis and eczema.
We’ve Only Just Begun
Detox, when done right, will provide your body with numerous benefits and keep it functioning at its optimum, but remember that removing toxins from the body would not make much of a difference, if you continue consuming processed foods and refined sugars, post-detox. This will essentially bring you back to square one and impede your progress of maintaining a healthier system and lifestyle.