Have you just come back from holiday? Are you recovering from a wild weekend in the city? Maybe the festive season is coming to a close? Whether you’re coming off the back of a wild weekend of binge eating or you’ve simply decided to lose weight, it’s possible you’re now planning to undergo a detox. Maybe you should think again.
Detox (or detoxification) diets are often promoted throughout popular media channels as an effective way to remove toxins from your body and lose vast amounts of weight in a short time period. But are these diets, often dubbed cleanses or flushes, truly healthy for you?
These diets are ubiquitous. Wherever you look you’re likely to stumble across a diet book, an article published by your favourite magazine, or an Instagram ‘influencer’ trying to promote the latest quick fix for losing weight in just a few days. Despite this, there’s currently no convincing evidence in existence to support the benefits of detox diets.
In fact, detox diets are considered to be unhealthy. Eating and maintaining a healthy diet will help you manage your weight and lower your risk of many diseases. Eating junk food and going on a week-long cleanse, drinking just smoothies, will cause your body to suffer in the long-term.
What about those that claim they feel great after completing a cleanse? That could be a placebo. Dr Fabrizio Benedetti, a professor of neurophysiology at University of Turin Medical School in Italy, has written books about the placebo effect. He told Time magazine: “Feelings, perceptions, and a sense of well-being are very much influenced by placebos,” he said. It’s also possible that those on a cleanse will be feeling better because they are cutting out junk food during that limited time, but that doesn’t mean they will still feel better once they return to their regular diet.
A healthy body already flushes out toxins
The world we live in is full of toxins, and our body is already perfectly designed to flush these out of our system. Environmental compounds that are not naturally present in our bodies are found everywhere. Pollutions, pesticides, chemicals in household and personal care products, and additives and preservatives in food are all omnipresent in our lifestyles.
Luckily, through the below organs, our bodies have evolved to be perfectly suited to eliminate these unnecessary toxins without having to go on some restrictive diet or cleanse:
- Kidneys and liver: These two organs filter and eliminate all toxins from our system.
- Lungs: Filter out fumes, allergens, mold and airborne toxins.
- Skin: Our largest cleansing organ, which detoxifies through sweating.
- Digestive tract: Eliminates waste from food.
Enhancing the detoxification process
While our bodies help us to remove these toxins just fine, there is emerging, but limited, research on certain foods and compounds that are believed to enhance the body’s natural detoxification process. Ingesting these foods and nutrients on a regular basis will help you maintain a healthy lifestyle, while a short detox will only serve to encourage an unhealthy lifestyle.
Here are some nutrients, drinks and foods may can help enhance your body’s natural detoxification process:
- B vitamins, glutathione (the body’s main detoxifying antioxidant) and flavonoids.
- Phytochemicals found in cruciferous vegetables, onions and garlic.
- Turmeric/curcumin – protects gallbladder and promotes bile flow.
- Pomegranate/ellagic acid.
- Green tea.
- High quality proteins, artichokes, watercress, cilantro and apples.
More research is needed when determining whether these dietary methods can effectively enhance the internal detoxification process. However, one thing is for sure, using natural methods and eating the correct food is a far healthier and safer method to encourage body detoxification than a cleanse. Incorporating aerobic exercise a few times a week can encourage the skin to work better, dietary fiber can encourage the digestive system to work more efficiently, and staying hydrated will benefit the kidneys and help them flush toxins out of the body. All these are about maintaining a healthy lifestyle. There is simply nothing healthy about only drinking a shake for 10 days before going back to an inconsistent diet of junk food and candy.
The bottom line? The human body can defend itself very well against most environmental compounds and the occasional indulgence. A healthy person should focus on giving their body the correct nutrients and food to help it maintain its powerful detox system. A balanced diet, regular exercise and sufficient sleep are all far more effective and healthier ways to lose weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle than unreliable and unhealthy cleanse diets.
For more health tips, visit the Novus Health blog.