Detoxing is a popular term used in the health and wellness industry, with numerous detox diets and products on the market promising all kinds of benefits. These methods can include drinking skinny coffee, teas, or pills, using Epson salts or other types of laxatives, fasting, eliminating a whole food group, or only eating one food type. And with endless options and promising “benefits” like rapid weight loss, improved immunity, and improved energy, it might be tempting, or even feel compulsory to try one of these methods to cleanse your body.  But is it all really necessary?

If we look at the scientific meaning of detoxification, it simply means the elimination of anything that is foreign or toxic to the body. The amazing thing is that our body already comes with its own detox system in the form of our liver, kidneys, skin, and gut. Our bodies are so incredibly designed that it constantly breaks down and filter toxins like alcohol, chemicals, medications, by-products from digestion and bacteria in the body, and then get rid of it. No patch, lotion, pill or “magic drinks” can ever replace the power of your own built-in detox system.

Just like any other system in the world, if it gets over-loaded, it can cause potential problems. Our detox system can become damaged and not work properly for different reasons, like eating a diet low in nutrients, poor gut health, genetic reasons resulting in your natural detoxification process not to function properly, or certain medications that can cause nutrients deficiencies. Our body needs different vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to support all the metabolic processes in our body to function properly. Therefore, if we are not consuming enough of these nutrients, our natural detoxing process might not function properly, which if combined with overloading your body with toxins might lead to chronic inflammation and certain diseases. The best way to “detox” is to not overload your body with toxins by consuming a diet high in sugar, white flour product, saturated fats, caffeine and alcohol for example. This will make the load lighter for your liver and kidneys to handle.

People often say they feel better when they go on some kind of cleanse or detox, but most of the time these methods eliminate the toxins from the person’s lifestyle that made them feel sick in the first place, which results in them feeling a bit better. However, eating whole and unprocessed foods and a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables, drinking 6-8 glasses of fresh clean water a day, getting enough sleep and being physically active will make you feel energized and healthy, while supporting your natural detoxification process.

It is also important to be aware of the fact that cleansing and detox diets can result in some side effects like having a lack of energy, cramping, nausea, vomiting, bloating, headaches and dizziness, especially if done frequently or followed for a long period of time. It can also lead to more serious side effects like changes in your electrolytes, dehydration, vitamin or mineral deficiencies, low or high blood pressure, low blood sugar or interactions with your medications.

So, if we have to make a conclusion from all of this, if a detox diet or product sounds too good to be true, it probably is. You don’t need to manually cleanse your body in some bizarre way. Detoxification is a continuous process that your body does naturally. It is not a quick 3-day process cleaning your body from all the toxic build-up from the past few months. If you already consuming a diet high in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, lean protein and unsaturated fats like olive oil, nuts and seeds, you are already providing your body with everything it needs to support your natural detox system.  If you want more information on knowing how much of these foods you personally need for your body, or how to make these food fit into your lifestyle, do not hesitate to go and see a registered dietitian to assist you in this.

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