Detoxification or detox is a popular practice these days. It usually involves following a certain diet or using special products to help clean your blood and remove harmful toxins from your body. However, it is not clear if it’s effective or if your body needs it. Before you go on a detox, you may want to do some research to better understand the process.
What Is Detox?
A detox diet claims to get rid of toxins in the liver, improve blood circulation, allow your organs to rest, give your body nutrients, and eliminate toxins through sweat, urine, and feces. As a result, your health improves and you experience weight loss. There are several ways to do a detox diet such as a period of fasting or food modifications. It may vary in intensity and duration, but most detox diets include at least one of the following:
- Fasting for a short period like 1–3 days
- Eating fruits and vegetables
- Drinking certain liquids like lemon water
- Drinking fresh fruit juices, vegetable juices, and tea
- Taking specific herbs and supplements
- Using laxatives, enemas, and other forms of colon cleansing
- Removing food high in allergens, contaminants, and heavy metals from your diet
- Exercising regularly
Detox is also said to aid in various health problems like digestive issues, inflammation, bloating, and obesity. However, the research on detox diets is still lacking and the existing studies that do exist have flaws. Some studies show that detox diets enhanced liver detoxification, but it was only done in small samples, which are not enough to make the results statistically viable. With the lack of randomized trials and clinical evidence, experts have yet to see the full effectiveness of detox diets to the human body.
Natural Way to Detox
Your body is constantly exposed to various substances and it has a natural way to eliminate toxins using your liver, kidneys, digestive system, skin, and lungs. While some aspects of detox diets has not yet been proven to be beneficial, keeping these organs healthy and free from harmful substances is good for your body and helps it to function well. Here are a few ways how you can enhance your body’s natural detoxification process.
Reduce Intake of Sugar, Salt, and Processed Foods
Consuming large amounts of sugary and highly processed foods may lead to chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. These foods may also harm your liver and kidneys, the organs that are vital to naturally detox your body. To keep these organs working properly, limit your consumption of sugary beverages and junk food.
Reducing the intake of salt can improve your kidney and liver functions. You can do this by increasing your intake of water and foods high in potassium like potatoes, squash, bananas, and spinach. Also, these foods can counterbalance some of sodium’s effects.
Drink Plenty of Water
Water doesn’t just quench your thirst; it also regulates body temperature, improves digestion, absorbs nutrients, lubricates joints, and detoxifies your body by removing waste products from the blood. During the body’s process of breaking down nutrients, it also releases wastes—which may be harmful if it stays in your blood. Water helps remove them efficiently through breathing, sweating, or urination.
As an important part of your body’s natural way to detox, you need to stay hydrated. The recommended daily water intake is 125 ounces for men and 91 ounces for women. This may still vary depending on your diet and lifestyle.
Eat Food Rich in Antioxidants
A diet of food rich in antioxidants can improve your body’s natural way to reduce the damage of free radicals, which is caused by poor diet and exposure to pollutants. Antioxidants include vitamins A, C, E, selenium, and lycopene. Some food with high amounts of these antioxidants are:
- Green tea
A good amount of quality sleep can do as much good to the body as eating healthy food. While you are sleeping, your brain recharges itself and removes toxic waste byproducts including beta-amyloid—known to contribute to developing Alzheimer’s disease.
If you lack sleep, your body won’t have time to recuperate. Also, developing certain health issues is connected to sleep deprivation such as anxiety, stress, hypertension, obesity, and heart disease. To keep yourself in good health, you need at least seven hours of sleep every night.
If you experience difficulties sleeping at night, you may need to alter your sleep schedule or limit blue light exposure from mobile devices and computer screens before bedtime.
Exercising regularly is not just a healthy way to manage weight, but it can also lower the risk of certain conditions like hypertension, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. In a week, the recommendation is to do at least 150–300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75–150 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity. You can achieve these through brisk walking or running.
Limit Drinking Alcohol
Your liver is responsible for filtering wastes and toxins from your body. It is capable of metabolizing more than 90% of alcohol in low to moderate consumption. However, excessive drinking may cause fat buildup, inflammation, and scarring. When this happens, your liver won’t be able to function well and your body may not be able to detoxify properly. The best way to avoid it is to limit your alcohol intake.
According to the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans 8th Edition, the recommended alcohol consumption is one drink per day for women and two for men. If you stay within these guidelines, then you are safe to enjoy an occasional drink. But if you find yourself drinking more frequently, in progressively increasing amounts, you may have a more serious problem like alcohol abuse or addiction.
Before you start to worry, consult first your healthcare provider so you can have a formal assessment. Once they have done a proper diagnosis and if they find that you are struggling with alcohol addiction, they may ask you to enter a rehab facility and get treated. You have the option to choose any treatment center you like, whether it is a nearby one or an out-of-state Phoenix drug rehab center. Whichever you select, you may find that the focus of all treatment facilities is their patients’ health.
You may find some benefits in following a detox diet such as losing excess fat, limiting stress, and getting better sleep. But you may also experience these improvements when you enhance your body’s natural detoxification process by improving your lifestyle. Eating healthy, exercising regularly, and moderating alcohol consumption may provide your body lasting positive effects.