“I began to wonder…did I write detoxes off too soon? Do cleanses really work?”
“Full body detox!” “Cleanse your liver in 3 days!” “The diet to rid your body of toxins!”
Any of this sound familiar?
I’d always written off detoxes and cleanses as scams. In nursing school, I learned that our bodies detoxify themselves. So I figured, “Why do we need a special cleanse to rid our bodies of toxins?”
But as I stumbled across more and more articles about it and people who swore that it worked, I began to wonder…did I write detoxes off too soon? Do cleanses really work?
Is detoxing just another fad? Or is there some truth behind it?
So I put my investigative nose to the ground and did some research.
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What are toxins? Are toxins real?
It’s actually pretty hard to find a definitive answer to what toxins are. And you may have noticed, but a lot of detox products don’t mention what toxins they aim to eliminate from the body.
Loosely, toxins are considered pollutants, chemicals, and by-products of various body functions. For example, mercury from fish, pesticides from produce, and acetaldehyde from alcohol metabolism in the liver are all considered toxins.
To sum it up, toxins are substances in your body that could cause harm if not eliminated.
So yes, toxins are real.
How does your body get rid of toxins?
As I formerly believed, it’s true that your body fights off and eliminates toxins on it’s own.
It does so through three primary means: your large intestine, your liver, and your kidneys.
You probably don’t need me to tell you that your large intestine eliminates waste. It also rids you of other various substances in the process, i.e. toxins.
Your liver is a detox powerhouse. While many know the liver processes alcohol, it also breaks down many medications and breaks down sugar. That’s why diseases such a liver cirrhosis are so dangerous; you want your liver functioning at its best.
It probably goes without saying that the kidneys are also key filters in the body.
I mean, companies conduct urine drug screens for a reason. And dialysis is used to filter the blood for people whose kidneys aren’t functioning properly.
Your kidneys help balance your water, sodium, and other mineral levels. Because of the thin walls of the glomerulus – a part of the kidney that blood flows through – your kidneys are able to filter many toxins out of your bloodstream.
Substances your body doesn’t need and those that are potentially dangerous are then excreted from the body in the urine.
Do our bodies need a “cleanse” or “detox” to get rid of these toxins?
Our bodies do a pretty dang good job at filtering out toxins on their own. So no, they really don’t need anything to cleanse or detoxify.
What do detoxes do?
Why, then, do companies claim that we need to detox? Each detox is usually aimed at targeting a particular symptom, such as bloating or fatigue.
Since detox programs and products promise quick results and sound like they’re based on science, it’s a very enticing offer. Thus, people often go for a quick cleanse over other options. Unfortunately, cleanses don’t usually address the real problem.
And while some people claim to have seen benefits – and that may be true – it’s likely a short-lived effect of the detox.
For example, a juice cleanse can lead to a decreased intake of calories, resulting in weight loss. However, once you go back to your normal eating routine, you’ll likely gain the weight right back.
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What are the different types of cleanses/detoxes out there?
There are tons of different types out there. While detox teas, smoothies, juices, and powders instantly come to mind, cleanses and detoxes are not only things that you eat.
There are detox baths, detox foot pads, and detox face masks. There are detox face cleansers and eye patches.
Just google detox and you’ll see there are ones targeting specific areas of the body too, such as a liver detox.
Lately, colon cleanses have become the big thing. Whether achieved with laxatives, teas, enemas, or colonic irrigation in a clinic, you’ve certainly got to be careful with these.
Always be sure to consult a health professional before trying one of these detox fads, as they can often cause more harm than good.
Cleanses/Detoxes to avoid
Any program that tells you to vastly change your diet, such as drinking only detox teas, smoothies, or juices, is just plain draining your money. Other products that include applying patches or foot pads are just not worth it either. You’ll have much more success with making lasting healthy lifestyle changes. And if your symptoms are serious or persistent, you should be heading straight to your doctor’s office instead.
And while taking herbal supplements or using essential oils can be beneficial, it’s also always important to consult your doctor prior to using these as well.
Overall, you’ll be so much better off making healthy lifestyle changes, such as sleeping more to decrease fatigue or watching portion sizes for weight loss.
So do they have any benefit?
While conducting my detox investigation, I did find something interesting. While many cleanses don’t really achieve the results they claim (because your body is already doing it all), there are apparently some ways you can help your body along with the detox process.
Getting plenty of sleep, exercising regularly, and drinking lots of water will help your body function at its best.
And by limiting sugar and alcohol intake, you reduce the unhealthy foods your body will have to process, thus reducing the strain on your organs.
This is probably why the only “detox product” I’ve ever placed any real stock in is a recipe book called Everyday Detox by Megan Gilmore. It has healthy recipes that are full of nutrients and that promote good digestion. While it does include a healthy meal plan that I’ve tried before and enjoyed, you can use the book’s recipes however you like.
I love Everyday Detox because it takes us back to what matters. No gimmicks, no scams, no frills – just good ole’ healthy eating to nourish our bodies. That’s what it’s all about.
If you’re looking for a resource to get your healthy eating and body back on track, I’d absolutely recommend that book over a quick cleanse or detox.
I hope you found this helpful! I’d love if you’d share this post on Pinterest or Facebook – every share helps! And as always, let me know if you have any questions in the comments below!