Detoxing – do you really need it, or is there a simpler way?

Woman with sliced lemons to detox on her eyes

Is Detoxifying Your Body A Good Idea — Or A Waste Of Precious Time?

It seems like everyone is on some ‘cleansing diet’ these days.

With the increase in environmental and everyday stressors, it’s no wonder people are beginning to see how damaging these can become.

Cleansing or detoxing diets are said to eliminate the body from any harmful compounds, and I have often wondered how these restricted so-called diets can help our bodies along the way. As an avid detoxer, I like to make sure that every day includes some strategy to help my body eliminate anything toxic by using natural ingredients and water.

Incorporating fasting into the mix daily would surely give anyone the upper hand.

Perhaps this isn’t the right way to detox and, instead, move towards the fast short-term alternative.

A strict diet of fruit, veggies, water and possibly some raw juicing is the case.

You can also include herbal teas, supplements, and even colon cleanses. I have found these cleanses beneficial if you have digestive, autoimmune, bloating and inflammation that can’t shift. Giving digestion a so-called “holiday” can relax, eliminate inflammation and provide some gastrointestinal relief. Unfortunately, there isn’t much human research to back this up apart from your benefits.

Does this aid toxin elimination?

There isn’t much evidence to suggest that detox diets eliminate toxins from our bodies. The body can perfectly clean itself through the liver, faeces, urine and sweat. Our liver can make toxic substances harmless, and then make sure our bodies eliminate them.

The few harmful chemicals that may accumulate in the fat tissue or blood are organic pollutants, phthalates, BPA and heavy metals. Most companies do the right thing and eliminate these toxins, but again, they could appear in anything you buy regularly.

What are the benefits of detox diets?

Usually, you do feel like rat droppings within the first couple of days. After that, some people will get to that point where the hunger is overwhelming too.

Eliminating coffee is another thing, and it can be hard to deal with caffeine withdrawals. However, if you are dedicated and push through, these things tend to taper off within days 4–5. Then, your energy will start to peak, and so will your focus and concentration.

Generally, an improved sense of well-being is because of eliminating junk food for a short period. That includes alcohol, processed carbs and sugars.

However, it certainly makes a massive difference to your mood and overall outlook on life making these small changes. Then again, some people generally feel awful throughout a cleanse. If this is you, then perhaps there is some underlying health condition.

And weight loss?

Most people lose a lot of weight quickly (if they are generally obese), But this is primarily fluid and carb stores rather than body fat.

So you may regain this weight back when normal eating resumes. The real benefits come if you fast regularly, rather than just a few random days a year — and pay attention to your nutrition much more. I would use detoxing more regularly in my overall lifestyle plan than once a year. Caloric restriction does improve your metabolic health but is unlikely to keep the weight off long-term. 

Where the studies do count

Varieties of detox diets can have similar effects to that of intermittent fasting.

Short-term, regular fasts can improve disease markers, immunity, insulin sensitivity, and leptin levels and increase metabolism (1). Not everyone benefits from fasting, though; women have difficulty benefiting from a 48-hour fast, which increases stress hormone levels. Women’s optimal fasting timeframe is usually between 12–16 hours per day or perhaps every other day (2). But, again, further studies are needed to demonstrate the specificity of these results. I would recommend testing the waters to find out what works for you.

Do we get any benefits at all?

We sure do get some benefits from detoxing. Just think of all the positive things we are doing by:

  • Exercising and sweating regularly (think HIIT or even infrared sauna sessions)
  • Eating a simple, wholefood and nutritional diet
  • Avoiding processed foods
  • Drinking a lot more water every day
  • Eliminating stress
  • Increasing sleep and relaxation

You don’t have to diet hard to benefit from the above points.

Adding them to your daily life will increase your longevity and quality of life. There is no harm in being a bit strict and making detoxification part of your life, but it is more beneficial if you make it part of a lifestyle plan.

If you can add a healthier approach to nutrition and general lifestyle, you will undoubtedly get more benefits, rather than some random cleanse every so often. I highly recommend fasting at a time frame that suits you and doing so every single day.

That adds a lot more valuable benefits to your body composition and health — and many thousands of people (as well as myself) are living proof that it works exceptionally well.

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