Is your detox cleanse hurting you?
There’s no shortage of products on the market designed to help you ‘detox.’ Some of these products are not all that bad, and others are downright dangerous. How do you tell what’s safe and what isn’t?
Let’s start with a foundational truth.
You do not need to detox. Your body is not dirty.
You’ve been given some of the most advanced filtration systems available. They’re called the liver and kidneys. These organs are incredibly efficient at clearing out all those things you take in that you just can’t process. If your liver and kidneys are functioning, you’re most likely doing just fine in the detox realm.
If they’re not functioning normally, you don’t want to do a detox at all. We’ll cover that in a bit.
Where did this idea of needing a “cleanse” come from?
Back in the 1830s, medicine held a belief that we were somehow dirty and should go to great lengths to clean ourselves. Recall that this was the time that we discovered the health benefits of containing sewage, sanitizing medical equipment, and avoiding microbes that might cause disease. The germ theory was just beginning to affect the way we lived our lives, and the fear of extra germs in and on our bodies was a frightening thought. Doctors proposed these deep cleaning routines for patients worried about these germs causing disease.
Now we know that’s not true - and in fact are doing such amazing research into the benefits these microbes provide in maintaining our radiant health.
In the 1970s, with the resurgence of alternative medicine, this practice became popular again - and now with commercial enterprises wanting to cash in on our fear, detox kits, diets, and support groups are found in every corner of the web.
Detox cleanses are typically some form of restricted diet. They’re often sold as a way to lose weight quickly. Just on its face, losing weight quickly is a bad idea - and know that it will not be a true weight loss, it’s merely your body responding to a starvation condition. These detox cleanses often take the form of a juice cleanse, a water fast, or a soup fast. With these highly restrictive diets, it’s easy to find yourself struggling with energy, sleep, and chronic aches and pain. Plus, these diets are low in protein, essential amino acids, and many nutrients.
Cleanses that use packaged smoothies, or frozen meals also fall into this category. Packaged cleanse diets are problematic because you don’t ever have a good idea of how the food was prepared and whether any of the nutrients are preserved. You might not even have a full list of the ingredients.
And, if you think about it, you are also now consuming processed foods, which is exactly what a cleanse is supposed to eliminate. (Things that make you go hmmmm....) Plus, some of these diets rely on heavy diuretics and laxatives, which can leave you feeling irritated, destroy your healthy bacteria, and potentially lead to life threatening infections.
It’s important if you choose to do a detox diet that you make sure you are ALREADY nutritionally replete, as doing a cleanse diet or fast when you do not have adequate nutrient reserves can be dangerous or potentially fatal.
If you don’t know whether you have a nutrient deficiency, let’s get together and review your lab tests to reveal your status.
If you have impaired liver, kidney, or intestinal function, you should NOT do a detox diet. Your primary goal should be to eat whole foods that you prepare yourself, and make sure you eat a variety of foods to satisfy your nutritional needs. You want to avoid foods with artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. Your organs are already operating at less than optimal levels, so adding the stress and strain of a detox diet with higher than normal fiber, diuretics, or laxatives can further damage these organs and lead to failure.
However, there’s some good ways to help your body be more efficient at detoxifying the chemicals you take in every day.
1. Eat foods that ARE ingredients rather than foods that HAVE ingredients. I know it’s hard to manage home cooked food when we’re always busy and rushing around. It’s tough to cook for just one or two people. You can make some better choices in foods. Fresh veggies cut up are a great snack instead of chips or crackers. Soups and stews are easy to cook in a slow cooker for a ready-to-eat dinner when you get home. It just means a little preparation on your part and making a choice to nourish yourself rather than fall to a craving.
2. Detox teas are often sold in natural food stores. These typically contain herbs that are known to support the liver and kidney function, like dandelion, burdock, and juniper berry. These are great herbs to help your body naturally remove toxins, and can be enjoyed on a regular basis, as they’re food-like herbs. These herbs are diuretic and can lead to dehydration if used to excess or if not also supported by increased water intake.
3. There’s also topical detox options, like epsom salt baths, castor oil packs, and clay masks that are useful to draw out toxins through the pores of the skin. Saunas that encourage sweat are another way your body eliminates waste. The other benefit to these methods is that they require you to slow down, to rest, and let your body restore itself.
4. Get moving! Walking is a very efficient means of circulating the lymphatic fluid in your body. This fluid collects all the cell waste and toxins that get into the cells. The lymphatic system needs muscle contractions to circulate fluid. When you’re sedentary all day, that fluid accumulates and the toxins remain out in the cells rather than getting back to the liver for processing and disposal.
I know, it’s not as exciting to eat vegetables and go for a walk. It doesn’t promise explosive weight loss and instant results. But, you’ll be healthier in the long run, and, isn’t that our primary goal?
Join me for my free webinar on Toxins and How to Clear Them on Nov 18. Sign up for my mailing list to get your invitation and the link to the recording.