It’s amazing what a good detox can do for the body – from increased weight loss to reduced inflammation, improved sleep and circulation, and everything in between. Unfortunately, detoxes and cleanses have gotten somewhat of a bad rapport over the years due to all of these fad diets and ‘get fit quick’ scams that can do far more harm to your body than good. But detoxes and cleanses are meant to be a positive thing and you shouldn’t let the bad apples of the crop ruin the potential benefits and experience you can receive from a healthy detox.
Detoxification practices date back thousands of years ago and have continued to be popular practices in Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) over the years. However, they’re finally becoming more mainstream in Western cultures – and for all the right reasons. Various studies have found that detoxes and cleanses can effectively remove and eliminate toxins from the body to provide you with a plethora of advantages. And trust me when I say that we are all due for a good cleanse. The Western world is full of all kinds of toxins, chemicals and pollution that disrupts every aspect of your health. They’re in your food and in your clothes, in the air you breathe and even the products you use to clean… which is quite ironic. There’s no denying that chemicals are rampant in our lives but a good, healthy detox can help remove all of the junk from your body, so you can feel refreshed, rejuvenated and healthy again. But beware; not all detoxes are created equal as mentioned previously. In this article, we get down to the good, bad and the ugly, so you can decipher between good, healthy detoxes and quick ‘fixes’ that should be avoided.
The 101 on Detoxes and Cleanses
Put simply, detoxes and cleanses are practices used to rid the body of toxic or unhealthy substances. Detox practices date back thousands of years, many of which are still used today, with some of the most popular options being fasting, saunas, dry brushing, smudging, herbal medicine, water, crystals, meditation, and exercise. Perhaps you’ve even done some of these yourself and weren’t aware of the detoxification properties and potential power that comes from them. Or maybe you find them a little too ‘woo-woo’ or odd. If you do resonate with the latter, you’ll be happy to know that many of the detoxes and cleanses available today use a more modern approach. Either way, there’s no shortage of options when it comes to detoxes and cleanses.
Many of the healthy detox options available in the market today are largely inspired by naturopathic origins. This means that they use natural healing as a way to remove toxins and cleanse the body, vs. unhealthy, unnatural practices. However, you will still be able to find the unhealthy varieties out there – some of which will be disguised as natural and healthy, so it’s important to be aware of what to look for. Typically, the more natural the practice, the better and safer the purification. If that’s holding a crystal or sitting in a sauna, great. But it can also be as simple and normal as using food, fasting and hydration to flush out toxins.
Types of Body Detoxes and Cleanses
From environmental pollution to chemicals in nonorganic and fast foods, to household cleaning products, perfumes and clothes, toxins are undeniably everywhere. They can’t be avoided but they can be removed from the body with a good detox or cleanse. As discussed previously, there are a plethora of detox options available but the three main categories of body detoxes and cleanses used today are:
- those that replace foods with liquids for cleansing
- those that support your body’s natural detoxification process
- those that “cleanse” your digestive tract through your colon
So, what does this all mean?
As a rule of thumb, detoxes work in one of the three ways, as you can see above. They can flush out the toxins with liquid, aid the body’s natural detoxification processes or clear out your digestive tract and expel of the toxins through your colon. However, there are thousands of different types of detoxes and cleanses that fall within each of these categories, such as:
- Drinking or juicing (having only juices, smoothies, soups or other liquids to detox the body)
- Eating only certain foods boosts the liver and kidney function and amplifies the natural detoxification process
- Using dietary supplements or other commercial products
- Using herbs
- Cleansing the colon with enemas, laxatives, or colon hydrotherapy (cleanses the digestive system)
- Reducing exposure to environmental factors
- Using a sauna to sweat out the toxins through the skin
And the list goes on. As you can see though, many of the modern practices consist of using your diet to detox.
How Do Body Detoxes Work?
The way a body detox works highly depends on the type you’re using, as seen from the examples mentioned above. As a quick reminder, most modern day detoxes work in one of three ways:
- using liquids, food or fasting for cleansing
- supporting your body’s natural detoxification process
- cleansing your digestive tract through your colon
However, generally speaking, they can all be summed up as a process and practice that cleanses the body of any impurities. This is done by removing the impurities from the blood in the liver, where it is then sent to be processed for elimination. The body can also naturally eliminate toxins through your intestines, lungs, kidneys, skin and lymphatic system. For example, you can sweat out toxins through your skin. Although, if any of these systems are compromised, the toxins aren’t able to be filtered out of the body, which can cause all kinds of symptoms and adverse effects. This is why many people choose to do a detox or cleanse; even if your system isn’t removing impurities efficiently, you can actively choose to do so via a detox or cleanse.
Benefits of Doing a Detox or Cleanse
In addition to being able to remove harmful toxins from your body when you do a detox or cleanse, you can also experience an abundance of bonus benefits. For example, detoxes have the ability to:
- Rest your organs
- Increase energy levels
- Resolve health conditions and concerns
- Stimulate your liver to release toxins from the body
- Encourage elimination through the intestines, kidneys and skin
- Improves blood circulation
- Resolve headaches, muscle aches and fatigue
- Increase weight loss
- Boost your immune system
- Refuels the body with healthy nutrients
- Clears brain fog
- Improved sense of wellbeing
Signs You Need A Detoxifying Body Cleanse
When it comes to detoxes and cleanses, you can have too much of a good thing and doing a detox too often can rid the body of helpful properties, minerals and vitamins. But how are you supposed to know when it’s time for a cleanse?
The answer is actually quite simple: take a look at your symptoms. How are you feeling? If you’ve never done a detox before, you may even find that many of the signs and symptoms that a detox is needed have been mistaken as a normal part of your everyday health or some other condition.
Here’s a quick look at common signs that your body is harbouring too many toxins:
- Aches and pains
- Brain fog or confusion
- Constipation and other digestive issues
- Fatigue and low energy
- Food intolerances
- Frequent colds and viruses
- Low-grade infections
- Menstrual problems
- Puffy eyes
- Skin irritation or skin problems
- Unexplained fatigue
- Unexplained headaches
Choosing the Right Detox Program
If you recognize yourself in the list above, it’s time to choose the right detox program for you, and as mentioned, there are many. As a rule of thumb, you’ll want to follow a 7-day plan as this is how long it takes time for the body to clean the blood. Anything short of that and you may not receive the results you’re looking for.
Here are the most popular types of detox programs to consider:
- Fruit and Veggie Detox
- Smoothie Cleanse
- Juice Cleanse
- Sugar Detox
DIY Detoxifying Tips
You don’t have to purchase a program or do anything fancy to start detoxing. Below is a variety of helpful tips that can help you prepare and maximize the detoxing process:
- Eliminate obstacles stopping the detoxification process, such as alcohol, coffee, cigarettes, refined sugars, and saturated fats
- Use fewer chemical-based household cleaners and personal health care products
- Opt for natural alternatives for everything as often as possible – food, clothes, cleaning products, shampoos, etc.
- Reduce stress to speed up detoxification enzymes
- Use yoga, tai chi or meditation to manage stress
- Eat foods high in fiber, such as brown rice and fresh fruits and vegetables
- Add more detoxifying goods into your diet, such as beets, radishes, artichokes, cabbage, broccoli, spirulina, chlorella, and seaweed
- Take detoxing herbs, such as milk thistle, green tea and dandelion root to cleanse and protect the liver
- Increase your vitamin C intake to encourage the body to produce glutathione, a compound in the liver that drives away toxins
- Stay hydrated (at least 8 cups of water a day)
- Practice taking long, slow deep breaths to increase oxygen flow throughout your system
- Scrub your skin and open up pores to make it easier for the toxins to release
- Use detoxifying exercises, such as yoga and martial arts
- Enjoy some yummy food-based laxatives, such as prunes, to keep your bowels moving
After a good detox, you’ll have yourself wondering why you spent so long suffering when the healing was right before your eyes. Moving forward, just be sure to implement the helpful tips mentioned to reduce your exposure to toxins, so you don’t get so bogged down and clogged up.