Detoxes and cleanses have become hugely popular over the years, all due to their promises of helping us lose weight, restart our digestive system and clear out the toxins from our body. Most of us at some point in time have been tempted to start a detox or cleanse in the hopes to achieve ‘perfect glowing skin’ or ‘fast weight-loss’.
There are many forms of detoxes and cleanses all promising to make us feel better such as juice cleanses, water fasting, consuming raw foods only, and removing gluten, sugar, dairy and all processed foods for a certain amount of time.
While your diet can play a huge impact on how you look and feel, are extreme detoxes and cleanses really worth the hype?
What’s the Difference Between a Detox and a Cleanse Diet?
The two terms are often used interchangeably when referring to this style of dieting, though some people claim that distinct differences exist.
Both diets are intended for short-term use, usually lasting anywhere from one to 30 days.
The main differences seem to lie in the overall intent behind the respective methods:
Detox diets are intended to focus on eliminating toxins. They usually involve very strict dietary regimens that may include fasting, herbal supplements, laxatives, enemas and eliminating many foods. Some of them also claim to detoxify specific organs, such as your liver, kidneys or colon.
Cleanses focus on eliminating unhealthy or highly allergenic foods while replacing them with nutrient-dense, whole foods to support overall health. Weight loss is a common goal of cleanse dieting, but cleanses may also be used to treat various digestive issues or food cravings.
So, What’s Right for Me?
Studies suggest that there is little evidence that detoxes will eliminate toxins from your body. Research shows that our bodies are designed to remove wastes naturally when we visit the bathroom. As Yale neurologist Steven Novella has noted, “a healthy liver and pair of kidneys are all most of us need to sufficiently ‘detox.’”
Your body is frequently exposed to toxic substances. However, most of the time, it can remove them without additional help. While detox diets may seem tempting, their benefits likely have nothing to do with vanquishing toxins, but rather with eliminating various unhealthy foods.
In regards to cleansing for weight loss some people may lose a lot of weight quickly, this effect seems to be due to loss of fluid and carb stores rather than fat. This weight is usually regained quickly once you go off the cleanse.
Potential side effects of detoxes and cleanses
The potential side effects of detoxes and cleanses include low energy, headaches, low blood sugar, muscle aches, feeling fatigued, dizzy and/or lightheaded.
What is the major detoxification organ?
There are four detoxification organs in the body however your liver is one of the largest. It helps remove waste and handles various nutrients and medicines. Detoxification itself, is a chain of events. When a toxic molecule enters the body, it is typically sent to the liver for processing. Hence, the liver is often considered the primary organ of detoxification.
The best way to support the organs that detoxify the body, and their respected processes, experts say, is eating a healthy diet, getting an average of 30 minutes of exercise a day, getting plenty of rest at night, and drinking enough water to stay hydrated.
The four detoxification organs in the body
- Liver - acts like a filter in preventing toxic substances contained in foods from passing into your blood stream.
- Kidneys - are constantly filtering your blood and getting rid of toxins in the form of urine.
- Colon - contains bacteria that produce both healthy and unhealthy chemicals. You want to keep your bowel movements regular since its main role is to flush out toxic chemicals before they can do you any harm.
- Lungs - are able to eliminate toxins that enter your body via breathing.
Many medical professionals and dieticians recommend avoiding the regimented detox diets, but focus instead on a well-balanced diet that consists of lean protein, whole grain foods, fruits, and vegetables.
We have broken down the basics of balanced eating to help you begin.
- Focus on lean protein such as chicken and fish.
- Fill your plate with colour. The more colourful the vegetables to wider variety of nutrients you are eating.
- Focus on wholegrain such as wild rice, barley, oats and buckwheat.
- Limit your refined sugar and carb intake - There is a place to enjoy all foods however we recommend enjoying these in moderation.
- Drink plenty of water and herbal teas.
- Limit alcohol consumption.
There are seven essential factors for a balanced diet. They are carbohydrates, protein, fat, fibre, vitamins, minerals and water. Following a well-balanced diet comes with many health benefits, including building strong bones, protecting the heart, preventing disease, and boosting mood.