As soon as the holidays strike, detox diets become all the rage. But, is it really possible to purge your body of harmful toxins? Is there any good to slinging back lemon water or going on a juice cleanse?
Many people assume that consuming too many treats with toxins like sugar, alcohol, and chemical preservatives can be negated or washed away by simply “detoxing” after.
So, are detox diets based on myth or is there really something there?
The Truth About Toxins
Toxins are real, of course, but they don’t just come from the foods we eat.
Food choices certainly play a role in contributing toxins to your body, but our bodies are also constantly absorbing toxins from the environment around us. (1)
Toxins mainly come from things like preservatives, pollution, cleaning supplies, and even personal care products. They can mess with our endocrine systems and even jumble up our gut bacteria. (Psst… check these seven signs that your gut bacteria is out of whack!)
While there is no such thing as erasing the past and no real proof that going on a detox diet will actually eliminate toxins from your system, changing your diet can promote a healthier environment to support your body’s natural toxin elimination process.
There is certainly no harm in cutting back on soda, candy, alcohol, and junk food, but don’t be fooled into thinking a detox has to be an all-or-nothing situation.
The Body’s Natural Detoxification System
Your body is equipped with its own natural detoxification system that works 24/7. Our liver and kidneys are the two organs responsible for eliminating toxins from our system every day. (2)
Overconsuming processed foods and alcohol can overwork these organs, making it more difficult for them to process and remove toxins from your system. In fact, the magic of most detox diets has more to do with cutting out certain foods, not consuming “miracle” foods.
Although foods like lemon, cayenne pepper, ginger, beetroot, cabbage, and green tea are often promoted as “detox foods,” most natural, organically-grown food is going to help with the detoxification process. Be sure not to limit yourself to only a handful of food sources when detoxing. Any food you can grow in a garden (and, obviously, that you don’t have sensitivity to eating) is good for a detox.
Here are some ways to help your natural detoxification system along:
- Stop eating foods that make you feel toxic. Yes, it really is that simple.
- Choose natural foods over processed. Think of the produce section at the grocery store. You want foods that grow from the earth rather than pour from a box.
- Drink more pure water. Hydration helps your organs function at their strongest. Or take it up a notch and take a belly boost shot!
- Clean up your environmen Get some fresh air, visit nature, and toss out harmful personal care and cleaning products.
Benefits of a Detox
Most people start a detox because they feel bloated, lethargic, or overweight. The reported benefits of detoxing are usually increased energy, reduced bloat, and weight loss. Some people also say they notice a difference in their skin clarity, digestion, and/or mood.
While everyone’s body and situation is different, a detox diet typically ranges anywhere between three and 30 days.
The more restrictive and extreme the diet, the shorter it often is. You can choose to do a mild detox just by eliminating one or two foods that are bothering your system.
A detox can be as simple as eliminating just one food or drink from your diet.
If you plan to start a detox, keep these tips in mind:
- It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.
- Remember your body’s built-in detoxification system. Give it the tools and support it needs.
- Nourish yourself with a wide variety of healthy foods, including fruits, veggies, healthy fats, gut-healing bone broths, and fermented foods like kimchi.
- It takes at least a few weeks to notice the benefits, so go easy on yourself.
Detoxing is real—it just might be a little bit different than the fad diets make it seem. Don’t expect results in just one day and don’t be fooled into thinking it needs to be ultra-restrictive or difficult.
The small adjustments you make will add up in time. Be patient with the process and with your body as it heals itself with a little help from you.