The Truth About Detox: What it means to detoxify your body

You’ve probably heard a lot about detoxing. Teas, smoothies, daily and weekly programs that promise to cleanse your body of toxins and improve your health. There are plenty of people who swear by specific detox brands and methods, and many who disagree, thinking it’s unsafe and unhealthy.

So who is right and who is wrong? Gymaholic teaches you how to avoid scams and safely detoxify your body.

Detoxing is usually thought of as the clearing of toxins or unhealthy things from the body, which will supposedly help you lose weight, decrease bloating and much more...

The way most programs or products try to ‘cleanse’ your body is by heavily restricting calories for a specific length of time. During this time the calories you consume are supposed to either be their product or their product and very specific, usually healthy foods.

Currently, there is no scientific support proving that detox diets on the market work, but there is also no evidence that they don’t work. So what, if anything as a part of advertised detox diets are scientifically supported?

Yes, there are toxins in the air, on your purse, in the gym, on your friends, in your car, in your food... You encounter germs, dirt, inedible products, pesticides and everything under the sun in your daily life, and unfortunately, some of it is going to find it’s way inside your body. Luckily, your body is incredibly complex, and built to keep bad things out and good things in. Which is why we’ve survived this long as a species.

Anything resilient enough that gets past the harsh environment of your stomach and intestine or small foreign particles that have been broken down small enough to sneak in through the intestinal wall into the blood have to deal with your first true internal defense… Your liver.

Your liver deals with more than just alcohol. It filters all the blood in your body, usually before it circulates to the rest of your system. It metabolizes (breaks down) drugs and detoxifies chemicals.

Calorie restriction and intermittent fasting are valid methods of detoxing because you will most likely lose weight. Losing weight in itself is a way of detoxing because when fat is broken down, any fat soluble toxins are released into the blood. Once it is in the blood it can be sent to the liver to be detoxified and removed from the body!

Some important points to remember about these methods:

  • Calorie Restriction (CR) is meant to reduce calories without causing malnutrition and without reducing essential nutrients.
  • Calorie Restriction with Optimal Nutrition (CRON) is the way to go, generally reducing calories by 20-40% while still providing all essential nutrients and vitamins.
  • It’s better to have a healthier diet to begin with, so you’re getting your essential nutrients and vitamins from food, and not relying on supplements!
  • Intermittent Fasting (IF) is not a reduction of calories (though it can be used alongside calorie restriction). It is simply changing the eating times to benefit from being in the body’s natural fasted state.

Fruits and vegetables have always been good for you. Of course, too much of anything can be bad for you, but when it comes to fruits and vegetables most people don’t get enough.

Especially vegetables! Fruits have quite a lot more sugars, and though they are natural sugars, they can still add up. A mix of both fruits and vegetables are low calorie and provide tons of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fibre. Those vitamins and antioxidants can influence the enzymes in the liver that control detoxification and removal of enzymes!

There is a lot of good things that come from drinking more water, especially digestion and clearing waste, mainly because most people don’t drink nearly enough water in the first place. However, drinking more than the recommended intake (9-12 cups) of water is not proven to add additional benefits!

Here’s weight loss workout plan for women:

And for men:

Certain diet modifications, like calorie restriction and healthy eating are actually proven to assist the body's own methods of detoxing. This is why some programs work, because parts of their programs usually use these methods!

So then where’s the problem?

Unfortunately those methods are taken to the extreme in order to create more drastic results in a shorter amount of time. Time is a requirement for safe weight loss, whether we like it or not, the body responds to extreme circumstances with extreme reactions.

You may lose weight in the short term, but once you have finished that crash diet, what happens? You feel awful, you regain weight, possibly faster than before, you have the urge to eat more, you return to your old habits, because that diet taught you nothing. These diets (even some of the methods) can also be unsafe for pregnant women and people with specific diseases like diabetes. You should always check with a doctor or talk to a dietician about incorporating these methods.

There are methods out there to help you lose weight, but make sure you’re getting your money’s worth and doing it right, for the long term.

Let’s recap:

  • Toxins exist, but we can fight them, and we do fight them, every day.
  • Your digestive system is made to absorb the good and keep out the bad. Anything that gets past it has to deal with the liver, and gets detoxified and removed.
  • Caloric restriction and intermittent fasting are ways to lose weight, which can help to release fat soluble toxins so they can be removed.
  • Any restricted diet should still contain all essential nutrients and vitamins, preferably from food!
  • Fruits and vegetables can help out the liver by provide tons of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
  • Drinking enough water can help the digestive tract run smoothly so waste can be cleared more efficiently.

Use your own determination and put your body’s health above your need to take short cuts. It’s never too late to start.

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Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Nutraceuticals. A Canadian with a love of food, fitness and health.

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