Detox diets appear to be pretty popular these days, people spend tons of money on detox teas and supplements, while others make money selling them. It is also an extremely controversial topic, with one side of people implementing detox diets in their lifestyles and other side rejecting all things detox. Which side is right and which is wrong? What is a detox? And ultimately, do we need a detox?
The truth is there is no right or wrong. There is such thing as a detox and it works to some extent, but given the right circumstances, detox is not necessary. So let’s discuss it all below.
What is a Detox?
Detox is a term used to describe the removal of toxins from the body, either natural or induced. It can mean a diet rich in foods that support natural detoxification, or a supplement that works that way. Detoxification can also be done in medical circumstances, for example, a drip or other procedures after serious alcohol or drug intoxication.
What are toxins?
Toxins are chemical substances that tax our organs, poisoning them or preventing them from functioning properly. It may be toxic compounds in alcohol or drugs, foods that are heavily processed and loaded with chemical additives, or excess hormones. When the body is overtaxed with these substances, the toxins may accumulate in the organs, mostly the liver.
Do I need to detox?
The most logical answer is No. Our bodies are programmed to excrete any waste products and toxic substances on its own. This is why we may have an occasional drink or a portion of junk food and be ok. The body does great job in ridding itself of any toxic waste. So if your diet and lifestyle are on point, there is no need in detox.
If you are a regular user of alcohol, or your diet is loaded with fatty and processed foods, if you are a smoker, then your body may accumulate the toxins and have hard time getting rid of them. But it still doesn’t mean that you should go and splurge your money on detox products. All you need is to give your body a chance to cleanse itself because it is well able to.
Why Detox products and diets are not recommended?
One reason they are not advised is because there is no guarantee that they work. Supplements are not created equally. Some are marketed as beneficial, but do not have any benefits in reality. They can also be dangerous, because they are not regulated by FDA and nobody knows for sure what they are made of.
Even if the supplements work, rapid detoxification can have bad side effects. Before the toxins are escorted out of the body, they first go back into the blood stream, causing all sorts of symptoms from fatigue to headaches and general malaise. This is also the reason why changing diet too quick or going cold turkey with a bad habit is not recommended.
These products and diets must not be used by people who suffer from any medical condition, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, and children and adolescents.
How can I support natural detox?
Review your eating habits, adopt a healthier lifestyle and eat a healthy diet. The diet that supports natural detox is one that is rich in antioxidants and fibre.
Antioxidants, found in abundance in vegetables and fruit, help neutralise free radicals that damage the cells, affecting their normal function. Fibre, found in vegetables, fruit and whole grains, binds to cholesterol molecules, toxins and excess hormones and helps them out of the body.
If you eat a good diet consisting of at least 5 or 7 servings of vegetables and fruit a day, whole grains, lean sources of protein and omega-3 rich fats, then you should not need a detox diet.
If you don’t eat a healthy diet, detox diets and supplement are not going to cure your problems. You need to implement some dietary changes in order to get healthier.
Take home points:
- Toxins are toxic compounds and excess hormones from processed foods, alcohol, tobacco, drugs and other sources (beauty and cleaning products), and get accumulated in the liver with heavy consumption.
- Liver and other organs are programmed to self-cleanse, so detox supplements and diets are not actually necessary.
- Products marketed as Detox can be expensive and ineffective at best; they can also be dangerous. Do not use them if you suffer from any illness or condition, are a child or adolescent, or a pregnant or breastfeeding mom.
- You can support natural detoxification by changing your lifestyle and dietary habits. Eat a diet rich in fibre and antioxidants. These include leafy green vegetables, vegetables of various colour (they say you should eat a rainbow), fruit and whole grains. Choose healthy fats rich in omega-3 fatty acids and lean sources of protein.
- Consult with your doctor or dietician before making any drastic changes to your diet and lifestyle, especially if you have health problems.
- Don’t expect any miracles. It takes time on a healthy lifestyle to start feeling good.