If you are reading this, chances are you yourself or some you know has tried some sort of detox or “cleanse.” These things are all over the place nowadays. Just about every celebrity has his or her own favorite brand they use leading up to award shows. With the way these are marketed and with the testimonials that celebrities provide, it is understandable that so many people have turned to “cleanses” for near-immediate results. The unfortunate thing is that the media does not provide all the facts, nor does it provide a healthy alternative. So whether you get it from the local organic grocery store, you pick if from the “top 10 cleanses” list in a magazine, or you try following a “cleanse” your neighbor is raving about, you may want to think about a few things before your next “detox cycle.”
First, what is your intention? Are you “detoxing” for improved health, improved metal clarity, or for rapid weight-loss? This is important because these “cleanses” typically claim to do all 3. If health is your goal, then you should know that drinking only fruit juice for a week is awful for your body as it provides a lot of sugar, but only a few valuable nutrients. In other words, you are NOT really cleansing anything, just creating a huge calorie deficit that may result in weight loss, which people often attribute to “toxin elimination.” If improved mental clarity is the goal, then finding ways to reduce the stress in your life would probably provide more benefit. If weight-loss is the goal, then be warned that losing it this way can cause potentially irreversible damage because the weight you lose through a “cleanse” is almost entirely water-weight (water that you need!) and muscle tissue (tissue that you need!).
Second, what are you actually removing with a “cleanse?” The whole point of a “cleanse” is to remove toxins, right? Ask the manufacturer of the “detox” product to specify which toxins their product will remove. I bet they can’t! This is a moot point anyway, since the body is pretty good at removing harmful “toxins” already. In fact, your liver is VERY good at it…as long as you are eating protein. The process of eliminating toxins occurs in 2 steps. First, toxins are transported through the blood to the liver where they are converted from a fat-soluble state into a water-soluble state. In the second step, the water-soluble toxin is flushed out of the body in the urine, sweat, or other bodily fluids. That flushing step cannot occur without adequate dietary protein. By the way, I don’t know of any cleanses that are high in protein. So what is a “cleanse” actually cleansing? Science is pretty clear that the answer is: Nothing.
Lastly, what is the better option? Since the body needs protein for normal detoxification, be sure you are getting at least 1 palm-sized serving of protein rich food at every meal and snack. Foods that naturally contain sulfur, like organic eggs, onions, broccoli, and cabbage help to boost both phases of liver detoxification, so be sure to add them to your diet if you haven’t already. Fiber works to remove potential toxins from the body before they get into the blood stream, so ramping up the amount of green leafy veggies, berries, raw nuts, seeds, and legumes in your diet will not only help with increasing fiber, but they also provide nutrients that are vital for normal body functioning and maintenance. And last, but not least, is water. In order for proper elimination of the toxins, you have to drink plenty of water. Keep a bottle handy at all times throughout the day to ensure you are drinking frequently.
In summary, detoxing and cleansing may not do any of the things they claim, and in fact, may do more harm than good. The body is great at removing things that it sees as harmful (toxic) when it is given the right nutrients to do so. So if you think your body needs some cleansing, then eat plenty of protein and veggies, and drink lots of water. That’s all the body needs for a REAL “detox.”