What you need to know about Detox
Detox is a popular word these days. It often comes with the promise of weight loss, mental clarity, a cleaner system, and more energy. Is it all good, or is it too good to be true? Learn the basics of detoxification, how to support your body's detoxification systems naturally, and what a detox plan should and shouldn't include.
What exactly is "detox?"
Detoxification, refers to the way we eliminate or neutralize toxins through the colon, liver, kidneys, lungs, lymph glands and skin. It is a very important and normal process in our body that is there for us 24/7.
What are toxins?
Simply put, toxins are substances that are toxic to our bodies. They can come from the environment, from the food we eat, and from what we put on our skin. They can also be produced inside our bodies. Tobacco smoke, alcohol, pesticides, BPA, and mercury are just some of the common toxins we may be exposed to on a regular basis.
It's in our genes
Each body is unique in how efficiently it eliminates toxins, and this depends on our genes. Most of us can eliminate toxins effectively and efficiently, while others may have less efficient systems.
What can I do to help my body eliminate toxins?
It is wise to support your body's detoxification system by limiting your exposure to toxins and making diet and lifestyle choices that support the body's detoxification efforts.
Natural ways to support your detoxification system
Fortunately, we don't have to do anything really drastic like a colon cleanse or juice detox to feel good and support our detoxification pathways. Our organs most likely do a great job of eliminating anything our bodies deem dangerous. However, we CAN make their job a little easier. Here are a few ways to do so.
- Avoid potentially carcinogenic compounds to reduce chemical exposure.
- We are routinely exposed to 100,000 to 200,000 chemicals, so it is not realistic to think that we can eliminate our exposure to ALL toxins. However, we can make several small choices that will help, such as using glass instead of plastic to avoid BPA exposure, buying food from farms that limit their pesticide use, and choosing our seafood carefully to avoid too much mercury.
- Exercise and sweat. Sweating will not eliminate all toxins, but a small number of water-soluble toxins may come out when we sweat. This is another reason to move our bodies and sweat it out!
- Regular bowel movements can keep toxins moving.
- Getting enough fiber from plant-based foods and drinking plenty of water are crucial steps you can take to help your body eliminate toxins.
- Eat legumes and fermented foods to support the gut microbiome, which plays a role in the detoxification process.
- Eat fruits and vegetables 5 times a day. Consume a variety to benefit from a variety of antioxidants. A few good options for detoxification purposes:
- Broccoli, kale, cauliflower
- Lemons and other citrus fruits
Beware of detox diets
We understand the desire to start fresh and realign our food choices at times when we are not feeling so good. However, it doesn't take a strict detox plan or starvation to start fresh and feel better. If your habits aren't doing you any good, it's always best to address the underlying issue with one of your friendly nutritionists or your doctor. Taking one step at a time is often much more conducive to a lasting solution than making drastic changes, as a detox program might help you do.
Be careful with the detox diet if....
- It promises to flush out the toxins. This is troubling because you may also be flushing out healthy gut bacteria that you need. Remember that your body already has an excellent system for ridding itself of toxins, and there are several natural, gentle ways to support this.
- It promises weight loss. Yes, you will lose weight, but the promise is not for sustained weight loss, and most of that will be water weight. There is a very small chance that the weight will stay off after the detox.
- This is extreme. You must always be careful with plans that involve fasting or drinking only juice/water. This type of detox is not something we recommend at Well Balanced Nutrition.
- It seems like a quick fix. We know there is no such thing. Believe us, we wish we could offer a quick fix, but it's just not possible. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
- It's using laxatives. A laxative regimen can cause dehydration, deplete electrolytes and interfere with normal bowel function.
- It's for the wrong reasons. If you think you need to punish your body, cleanse it, or undo bad habits, let us be the first to tell you that a strict detox is not the answer.
A sensible detox plan
A sensible detox plan will include satisfying and nutritionally balanced meals, plenty of fluids, and an emphasis on nutrient-dense whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and beans. The goal might be to replace all processed foods with more natural foods and limit or avoid things like soda, chips, candy, etc. It may also encourage fasting 8-12 hours overnight to allow your body to digest, rest and work its miracles. These are all reasonable ways to support a healthy detoxification system and body.
The body's detoxification systems are designed to ward off most pests and the effects of the occasional overindulgence. If you're generally healthy, we recommend you focus your efforts on giving your body what it needs to maintain its amazing self-cleansing system - a balanced diet, plenty of fluids, regular physical activity, and adequate sleep. Are you ready to build healthy habits that last?
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure that the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.