Should I do a detox?
What exactly is a detox and is it necessary? Detoxes have long been hailed as a magic solution for weight loss and a cure for whatever else is a threat to one’s physical health. The question remains: Do detoxes or “cleanses” do what they are advertised to do?
One common belief is that the body holds onto toxins found in foods and the environment, causing an individual to feel fatigued and unhealthy. However, if the liver is functioning properly, which it is in the majority of the population, then toxins are easily filtered out of the body naturally. The problem, most likely, is the toxins that are continuously put into the body, causing fatigue and illness during the process of digestion.
The average American diet contains processed foods, high levels of sugar, caffeine, and alcohol. The environment is filled with pollution and although rates of smoking have decreased, Americans continue to put other drugs and chemicals into their bodies. Ingredients in certain foods and other hazards act as poisons inside the body by having an affect on sleep, mood, and the way the body functions. While the body works to move these toxins out of the system, energy is moved into the process of flushing out the system and the individual winds up feeling run down and ill.
Poor diet is the biggest culprit in becoming “toxic”. When the body is functioning without the nutrients it needs to work, it affects the individual in many ways. Aside from physical symptoms such as poor skin, digestive irregularity, and bloating, mood swings and depression can come from the lack of proper nutrition.
Other effects of a poor diet include continued cravings for more of the offending foods, high cholesterol, difficulty losing or maintaining weight, and acne. Most commercial detoxes advertise the ability to eliminate these symptoms by helping remove the toxic substances inside the body that are creating them. However, by just avoiding these foods, the body will naturally clear out the “toxins” on its own.
Most detoxes work to reduce weight because they consist of little to no calories, this alone is the reason for the weight loss. The detox is not typically a diet to follow on a long-term basis, therefore, the weight usually comes back.
Try Clean Eating Instead!
Other “detoxes” are actually just diets that eliminate processed foods, preservatives, and certain foods heavy in saturated fat. This is known as “clean eating” and it is the best way to detoxify the body and reduce fatigue, junk food cravings, and regulate bodily functions. Clean eating doesn’t require a fast or a starvation diet. As a matter of fact, the caloric content of the diet is not even considered, as long as foods are nutritious and fresh.
So, before embarking on a detox, try a bit of clean eating over a week or a month. With clean eating, you will notice a lot of the changes promised by the detox and as the body rids itself of your previous diet, you will be detoxing anyway.
Sacks, F. MD, professor of cardiovascular disease prevention, Harvard School of Public Health.
Miller, T. Detox Cleanse Diet.