Detox…it’s a buzz word that has been around for years. Detoxing is the concept of cleansing the body of toxins and filling your body with nutrients while eliminating & avoiding certain foods. Doing a detox/cleanse can promote weight loss and increased energy.
A detox can often include taking herbal supplements, or doing things like colonic irrigation. There are extreme detoxes – for example juice detox, lemon detox (more on these below) to those that require you take out processed foods, sugar, salt, caffeine and alcohol, while making sure you are drinking more water.
Many detox programs will have a dramatic drop in calories, while increasing vitamins and minerals from tablets and powders or only eating a few certain foods for a week.
There is still some controversy over whether or not we actually need to detox – the body actually does a good job of detoxing itself, if you look after it. Your kidneys, lungs, liver, skin and lymphatic system all play an important role in the detox process.
Your most important organ for detoxing is your liver. It’s the livers job to process the toxins in your body and then send them to your kidneys or skin to be excreted out of the body – think sweat or urine!
So one side of the fence says “a detox program can enhance our body’s ability to cleanse itself by stimulating our detoxification organs and in turn help to reduce its workload.” (Laurance Kirk, Naturopath and Dean of Clinical studies at London’s British College of Osteopathic Medicine)
The other side of the fence says “although certain ingredients contained in some detoxification programs can improve bowel mobility and digestion, there is no scientific evidence to suggest that they can remove toxins from our body. For most people it’s rare to have excessive amounts of toxins in the body unless you suffer from alcohol or drug related conditions. “ (Dr Finer, consultant in obesity medicine at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridgeshire)
Many people relate the word detox to losing weight fast, or wanting a quick fix – especially when you are only drinking juices, or really minimising your calorie intake. If you do do a detox, you might get some great results, but they won’t last long and the weight will go back on, some of the time more weight will go on, when you start eating normally again.
I believe in living a healthy lifestyle, one which doesn’t necessarily mean dieting or detoxing.
So to detox or not to detox…..
Remember, everyone will have an opinion, so here is mine. If you live a healthy lifestyle – fill your body with clean, nutrient rich food and fill your mind with positivity and healthy thoughts, then you will always be on a ‘detox’, or I prefer to call it a cleanse. With this in mind, you will be helping your body to function at its best, all the time, and that’s the aim!
I believe that cutting out processed foods, sugar, coffee, alcohol, dairy and wheat is the way to go. I would do this for 2 weeks as a minimum, 4 is better. And then you can start to reintroduce these foods, one at a time to see how your body reacts to them. It may seem like a bit of a fad diet and I guess it is, but if you take these foods out of your diet for 2 weeks, you will have more energy, feel less bloated, less gas, have clearer skin and shinier hair, just to name a few! Once you reintroduce them, that is when you will notice what they can do to your system – you may experience the bloating after eating bread, pasta, yoghurt, milk etc. Many of my clients do this and can’t believe the effects these foods have on their system, so they make the choice to only ever eat these foods on the rare occasion, as they don’t like how their body feels after they do. Think of this cleanse process as a learning experience, learning more about yourself and your body.
After you have gone through this cleansing process, I would stay away from processed foods, which include colours, preservatives, additives, e-numbers and ingredients I cant pronounce! Once you have introduced some foods back into your life, follow the 80/20 rule of sticking to a healthy lifestyle 80% of the time, but also allowing yourself the occasional treat!
Another great habit to get into, is to start your day with a shot of lemon (1/2 to 1 lemon in a glass), you can always add some water to it, if that helps. It’s a great way to get rid of toxins in your body and it is also a great metabolism booster.
Personally, I would stay away from and wouldn’t recommend any other form of detox, unless you are being monitored by a professional, for example a naturopath. I would stay away from pills, quick fixes, powders, juice detox’s, etc.
I have listed a few of the more popular ‘Detox’s’ and given a bit of feedback below.
The Lemon Detox
Mariah Carey swears by it, Beyonce said she lost 10kgs doing it. It is a quick fix. It is a 14 day kit and costs about $160. Nutritionist Matt O’Neill says “it is a starvation diet, and those that embark on it will gain back the weight, and more, as soon as they start eating.” And I totally agree.
You have to drink a mixture of water, lemon juice, cayenne pepper and maple syrup. During the cleanse, you drink about 8 glasses of this cocktail daily for about 10 days. Laxative tea and salt water flushes are also taken.
As with most quick fixes, there are some downsides. It will strip weight off, but it is extremely low in protein which will lead to a loss of muscle mass. You aren’t getting your essential daily nutrients. Your metabolism will slow down and the chances are when you stop the detox and start eating real food again, you will put on more weight as a result. Not to mention the feelings you will experience during the 2 weeks – hunger, moodiness, emotional downfalls etc.
Five Day Juice Detox/Fast
There are companies that offer a 5 day cleanse for around $295, with everything you need delivered.
Basically, the rules are you drink all the supplied juices daily – the variety is apparently important. Its best you don’t do vigorous exercise and go to bed early. (You won’t have any energy to exercise anyway!), loofah any dry skin, drink the detox tea they supply and soak in a bath with the bath salts they supply to draw out toxins.
It is pretty tough to stick to, the side effects include moodiness (because you are so hungry!), headaches, depressed feelings, emotional craziness, foggy head and more.
Most people will be dying to eat by the end of the 5 days and most people will go to the foods they are craving – wine, chocolate – anything else but juice and veggies!
So in summary, our bodies have a pretty good detox system in place, so no need to spend your money on expensive detox products or programs. You are better off investing in fresh, clean, nutrient rich food and staying away from sugar, salt, processed foods, additives, caffeine and alcohol and then follow the 80/20 rule, and allow yourself the occasional treat!
Here is a great recipe for a fabulous Green Smoothie, which is perfect to add to any cleanse.
Green Smoothie Ingredients:
- Handful of Spinach or Kale
- Around 300ml of Coconut Water (I use the Cocobella brand – you can get from supermarkets)
- An apple, or pear
- Frozen passionfruit
- 2cm of ginger
- 1 lemon (just add the juice)
- About 5cm of cucumber
- You can add some ice too if you want!
Experiment with different combinations and find one you really enjoy.
Yours in Good Health