Detox diets…body cleanses…colon cleanses…bowel cleanses…oh my
You’ve probably heard all of these terms used in reference to “ridding your system of unhealthy toxins” — but what do these terms actually mean?
Do you really need to be on a ‘detox diet’ or ‘cleansing’ your body?
Are programs and products marketed as detoxes and cleanses even safe to do?
To start us off, all of these terms get a LOT of hype in the media, and people tend to use various terms interchangeably, which makes it especially confusing for consumers.
So what IS the difference between a Detox Diet and a Cleanse?
Generally, both detoxes and cleanses are methods that people use to clear or flush toxins out of their body.
But, there are some important differences…
Requires you to be on a very restrictive diet that only allows you to consume a small selection of food. You only consume foods that are specific to improving the health condition, and usually for a specified amount of time, often several days to even several weeks.
Some detox diets actually involve fasting for a period of time. As a result, your body might not get the necessary nutrients it needs to function properly, and your energy level could be negatively impacted – sometimes dramatically, and can even be accompanied by “detox flu” symptoms. I recommend doing this type of detox under the supervision of a qualified healthcare practitioner if you’re working on a specific health condition you are trying to improve with the detox.
Detoxing typically involves consuming some sort of herbal or supplement product (pills, powders, tinctures) intended to flush out your digestive tract – namely the large colon or bowel and provide support for the liver & kidneys, your main detox organs. Other methods, such as colon hydrotherapy, may be used in conjunction with the diet & supplementation to help facilitate the elimination of toxins from the body.
If you’re not supporting your detox pathways properly, or choosing the wrong products for your body, detox products could cause undesirable side effects, and may contain chemicals that might not be healthy or safe, thus defeating the purpose of performing a “body or bowel detox” in the first place.
Detoxes, when done properly under supervision, can enhance your health by removing toxins that are contributing to illness.
A cleanse is a short term dietary approach that focuses on whole foods & eliminates foods & substances to lessen the body’s stress load.
We are constantly exposed to many environmental toxins, stimulating ingredients (sugar, coffee, alcohol), overly processed & nutrient void foods and potential food allergens that can take a toll on our adrenals, digestion, and liver – which can cause havoc on our hormonal health, make us feel tired & puffy, and contributes to poor mood & increased allergies.
Taking a break from these foods and flooding the body with fibre & antioxidant rich foods that help the digestive system and liver convert toxins properly, as well as remove them from the body, has a beautifully rejuvenating effect on the body.
Why do people feel they need to ‘cleanse’ their body anyway?
Besides getting rid of an overaccumulation of toxins in their system (known or suspected), there are other reasons why people may wish to try detox diets and cleanses, including the following:
- They want to lose weight and look/feel slimmer & healthier
- They want to get rid of the puffy feeling from too much inflammation
- They want to get rid of painful PMS symptoms
- They want to get rid of digestive bloating or embarrassing skin issues
- They want to feel rejuvenated and re-energized
- They want to be able to think clearly & get rid of brain fog
Many people don’t realize that our system can remove its own waste naturally. In fact, the body is cleverly designed to do just that.
Our body has its own built-in detox system that works on its own every day. One of the main functions of the liver is to remove toxins from our blood. Problems can start to arise, however, if our capacity to convert & eliminate toxins is compromised. This can happen if there are too many toxins coming in (through diet, environment, cosmetics, cleaning supplies), we lack the nutrients & water to properly detoxify, and our liver & digestive system become sluggish. The accumulation of toxins can impact every area of our health, especially our mood, energy, and hormones.
Tips to help you naturally support your body’s own detoxification processes
Here are things you can be doing day-to-day and year-round:
- EXERCISE & SWEAT REGULARLY. This not only helps you manage your weight but it also gets rid of toxins while you are sweating.
- DRINK FILTERED WATER. Water helps flush out and cleanse your system. Add some fresh fruit or veggies, like cucumber, to enhance the flavour of plain, filtered water.
- EAT GOOD FATS. Ditch the processed and refined fats, and instead, consume healthier “good fats” such as olives & olive oil, raw nuts & seeds, coconut oil, and avocados.
- UP THE FIBRE. Fibre helps to move toxins and waste that have built up in your system through your system naturally – think of fibre like stiff bristled broom for your digestive system! Eat the skin of your produce, add fibre to your smoothies, and add more veggies to your diet to up your fibre to at least 35gr per day.
- BE A SAVVY LABEL READER. If you don’t recognize the ingredients on the label, then you might not want to eat that food – because they’re probably NOT food! There could be a chemical that results in negative side effects, and these chemicals are additional toxins that are entering your body.
- REDUCE YOUR TOXIC LOAD. Consume organic and non-GMO food. They don’t contain chemicals and other poisons that contribute to the overall toxin load on your body.You can also make the switch to more natural bath & beauty products in your daily routine, as well as natural, chemical-free cleaning products for your household. Your skin is amazing at absorbing much of what you put on it, so be sure to give it good stuff only!
There are specific foods we can start to add to our diet every day to help support our natural cleansing abilities. I’ve put together the top spring detox superfoods for you in the guide below. Check it out and let me know what you think over on Instagram!