It’s a catchy word these days, making appearances in magazines, the supermarket, juice bars, the health food store, and pretty much anywhere else that has a focus on health from some angle. And because of the appeal, “detoxes” have come under much scrutiny lately, leaving people with many unanswered questions – to do a detox or not? Let me settle the confusion by separating the fact from fiction, and tell you how the right detox plan can benefit you!
Fact: Detoxes can help you feel and look healthier
This is why we’re addicted – we have seen it work for both our patients and ourselves!
Every day, our body is bombarded with chemicals, pesticides, hormones and other pollutants from our surrounding environment and the foods we eat. Under ideal circumstances the body is able to detoxify and eliminate many of these toxic substances safely through perspiration, urination, respiration and bowel elimination. Unfortunately, we no longer live in a natural world, and people today are taking in more toxins than the body was designed to process. Under these conditions, the body may fail to detoxify at the same rate as toxins are introduced, resulting in a host of health concerns. We need to give our bodies a break. This is why a detox is helpful – it gives the organs of elimination a break (and some support) to help restore your body’s natural ability to detoxify.
Fiction: All detoxes are safe
- Most are very low calorie, which research shows can slow your metabolic rate and increase your risk of weight gain (Fricker 1991). You also risk losing muscle, since your body can break this down to use as a “fuel” when caloric intake is insufficient for demands.
- Vitamin deficiencies, blood sugar problems, and electrolyte disturbances due to restrictive diet plans (which is especially harmful for those with diabetes, kidney or heart problems, and those taking certain medications such as diuretics).
- Many plans are water or fluid-based, and this combined with laxative teas causes diarrhea, dehydration and loss of the bacterial flora that keeps our intestines healthy. Laxative teas (such as senna) also cause habituation over time, decreasing the natural peristalsis of the colon which means your colon requires these substances to function.
How to avoid these potential harms and benefit? Be informed and seek guidance. Because each individual is unique, there is no single “best” or “safest” detox, and that’s why we’re here to help.
Fact: Your liver is able to keep up with demands to detoxify the body
To add to this point, the role of detox is not solely on the liver – it’s a team effort! The lymphatic system, lungs, skin, digestive and urinary systems all play a role in detoxification since these organs assist in the elimination of by-products of liver detoxification. So if any of these organ systems are impaired (a common example being constipation), your body’s ability to detoxify is impaired.
Bottom Line: a detox isn’t necessary to ”clean” the liver of toxic buildup, but that isn’t the objective anyhow – a detox gives the liver and other detoxification organs a much needed break, while providing the body with a “spring cleaning” by limiting exposure to pesticides, hormones and other toxic compounds.
Fiction: Detox = costly supplements and juicing programs
~Amber Moore, BSc (Hons), ND
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