Detoxification and cleanses are perennial topics in natural health circles and everybody has an opinion. But what are the facts? Are there any reliable methods for detoxing that are safe and effective? What results can one expect?
An Introduction to Detoxing
First and foremost, it's important to know the body is engaging in detoxification processes all the time. In fact, the majority of substances which need to be removed are natural byproducts of the body's internal metabolism -- for example, carbon dioxide is produced from cellular respiration. The liver, skin and kidneys are the body's main detox organs, and if any one of these failed for any length of time, serious disease or even death could result.
In a healthy body -- which is regularly provided with nutritious food and clean water -- our natural detox mechanisms are more than capable of handling the harmful substances produced internally, as well as those introduced externally. External sources of toxins include our air, water, cleaning products, personal care items, cosmetics, medications and our food supply, which contains chemical additives. With so much exposure to harmful substances, the system can become too overloaded to respond appropriately. As a result, it's become more important than ever to detox on a regular basis. Detoxifying the body gives its systems a break while removing toxic waste buildup through the addition of extra necessary nutrients. While there can be many health benefits to detoxifying the body, it's important to use safe, natural detox regimens in order to avoid harmful side effects.
What to Avoid
Any reputable method for detoxification will emphasize long-term healthier lifestyle choices over short-term gains using extreme methods. Using detox as a quick weight loss plan is also a poor choice as it typically results in the same effects as "yo-yo" diets, leading to more weight gain after a return to unhealthy eating habits. Beware of detox programs that promise quick results and come with scores of testimonials but lack scientific backing or endorsement by a trained health professional. Always do plenty of research before starting a detox program, keeping in mind the Internet isn't always a reliable source of information and you shouldn't rely on the opinion and results of friends, family and coworkers.
Basic Detox Techniques
When starting a detox program, it's just as important to create mental and emotional space in addition to changing physical parameters. If you can't find the time to step back from everyday stressors, a detox program may compound stress and breakdown of the body. Anyone with a heart condition or other diagnosed medical issue shouldn't begin a detox program without consulting a physician first and having a simple blood test to check the function of the kidneys and liver. A sudden change in diet or lifestyle may aggravate existing conditions if not monitored. Many herbs used in various detox programs may also interact with medications, particularly blood thinners.
When you're ready, here are some tips for changing daily habits that work to detox the body and maintain health:
Begin eating a greater percentage of unprocessed, fresh foods, especially fruits and vegetables. Broccoli, cauliflower, kale, onions and garlic are rich in sulfur which is an essential component of the body's detoxification processes.
Make the switch from conventional food to organic whenever possible.
Limit the amount of makeup, creams and other body products used on the skin, as well as exposure to harsh cleaning chemicals and other fumes.
Use a body brush in the bath or shower to assist in the removal of toxins through exfoliation of the skin.
Reduce or eliminate caffeine, nicotine and alcohol as well as nonessential medications.
Incorporate more light exercise, such as yoga or walking. Avoid heavy workouts and strenuous cardio routines, as this can actually increase oxidative stress on the body.
Practice deep breathing and spend more time in meditation or solitude.
Limit or eliminate exposure to harsh music and emotionally upsetting television programs. Consider a total electronic media fast.
If weather permits, allow for 15 to 20 minutes daily for exposure to sunlight without sunblock. Even for fair-skinned people, damage to the skin doesn't typically occur until after 20 minutes, unless a special ultraviolet advisory is in effect.
Spend more time in nature and walk barefoot if possible. Scientific research suggests simple contact with the earth can reduce oxidative stress on the body, freeing up more resources for detoxification processes.
Advanced Detox Techniques
Seek assistance from a trained health professional before embarking on more intensive programs, such as fasting, without previous experience. Juice cleanses are fine, but keep in mind juicing removes the fiber present in fruits and veggies which is an essential component of the natural detox processes of the colon. Without adequate fiber in the diet, toxins dumped by the liver stand a greater chance of simply being reabsorbed into the body.
There are multiple detox pathways in the body that perform specialized functions and different techniques may be necessary in order to detox specific substances from the body, such as heavy metals, excess hormones or chemical solvents. Metabolic tests using blood, hair and urine samples can accurately identify the presence of these substances in the body. Testing by electrodiagnosis or "quantum" machines is generally considered a sham by reputable health professionals.
Tips for Success
Employing healthy lifestyle choices such as eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, drinking pure water and getting regular exercise is the best way to help the body continue to detox naturally. Choosing more natural foods and body care products is also worth the time and money. If choosing to detox, try forming a small group to go through the process together for support to stay on track and to share experiences and compare symptoms.
Employing a safe and sane detox program on a quarterly to annual basis can help fight fatigue, symptoms of indigestion and boost the immune system to keep the body cleansed and better equipped to prevent chronic disease. Avoid the hype and consult a naturopathic doctor to get started detoxing the right way.
Products you may like:
Garden of Life RAW Cleanse Why you may like this product? This seven-day cleanse from
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This kit contains three
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Toxin Defense, Organ Detox and
Digestion and Elimination.
They each contain a blend of
herbs, minerals and raw foods
without harsh laxatives and
you still get to eat!
Now Foods Detox Support Why you may like this product? If you're detoxing but eating
natural organic foods,
exercising and eliminating
stress, you can give your body
some additional help with this
supplement from Now. This
product contains a blend of
minerals, herbs and
antioxidants to help the body
detoxify itself safely and
Statements made about specific vitamins, supplements, procedures or other items sold on or through this website have not been evaluated by eVitamins, the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) or the United States Food and Drug Administration. They are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease. The information provided on this site is for informational purposes only. As always, please consult with a licensed doctor or physician before starting any diet, exercise or supplement program, before taking any vitamin or medication, or if you have or suspect you might have a problem.