The Only Real Way to Detox Your Body – After indulging in unhealthy treats and drinks for extended periods, such as during summer BBQs or holiday celebrations, the idea of a quick fix to restore oneself to their best state becomes very appealing. Activated charcoal, green juice, herbal tea, and apple cider vinegar are touted by the internet as all that’s needed for a quick detox.
The detox industry is having a moment — it is currently thriving and profitable. However, the concept of cleansing impurities from the body is not new. Ayurvedic medicine, a 2nd century BCE traditional medicine, employed a five-part detox method including medicated enemas and drug-induced vomiting. Today, our understanding of detox needs is much improved.
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The human body has several internal systems, such as the liver, kidneys, and digestive system, that work together to eliminate harmful substances and keep the body in a state of balance. While a short-term “detox” or cleanse may provide some temporary benefits, it is not necessary for maintaining overall health and wellness. Instead, the best approach to detoxing is to support your body’s natural processes by eating a balanced diet, drinking plenty of water, and avoiding exposure to harmful toxins when possible.
“If your body already has a working liver, working kidneys and working lungs, your body already has the balance it needs,” says Katherine Zeratsky, a registered dietician at the Mayo Clinic. Alluring detox tools really aren’t necessary.
More to the point, there’s really no evidence that detoxes remove toxins from your body in the first place.
While detox methods may not be effective, they are generally not harmful. However, they do come with risks. Drinking only green juice for several days can cause imbalanced nutrition but is unlikely to cause harm, according to Zeratsky. Every individual’s situation is unique, as demonstrated by a woman who developed a severe kidney issue in 2019 due to a past gastric bypass surgery and recent antibiotic use while on a green juice detox diet. If you are considering a detox, it is crucial to consult with a doctor first. Additionally, do not expect immediate results as fasting or frequent bathroom trips may lead to fatigue and discomfort.
The Only Real Way to Detox Your Body
There’s also evidence that detoxing might not serve your mental health. In one Hungarian study researchers interviewed people staying in juice cleanse camps, a sort of health retreat. They found that detoxing was the number one reason cited for the juice cleanse, which was commonly paired with laxatives. Participants’ reasons for detoxing commonly overlapped with indicators of purging disorder and orthorexia nervosa, an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating. The risks to long-term mental health may therefore be worse than any immediate physiological risks.
Most of the time, when people say they are looking to detox, what I actually hear is that they want “to hit the reset button,” says Zeratsky. “You can do that with good nutrition.” Cleanses and charcoal aren’t really worth the investment.
So if you do want to ditch the drowsiness and rejuvenate, you don’t need to buy teas and tinctures. Try these tips instead to keep your body’s natural detox system in optimal shape.
Get Enough Sleep
First, don’t skip out on your nightly seven hours. Research has shown that your brain undergoes a natural detoxifying process in the wee hours of the night, removing harmful byproducts—like the amyloid plaques that cause Alzheimer’s—produced during a normal day of neurotransmission. But that process is only completed when you get the full seven hours of rest.
Without adequate sleep your brain is slower to process information. One less hour of recommended sleep per night can also throw off your metabolism and increase your risk of pre-diabetes. Insufficient rest overall has been linked to diseases like obesity and hypertension, and seems to damage your immune system and lower your life expectancy. Nothing seems to go untouched when you skip out on the shut-eye.
The Only Real Way to Detox Your Body
Drink Plenty of Water
Water is critical for more than feeling hydrated. It keeps your bodily fluids flowing so that the lungs, kidneys, and liver can do their jobs. All bodily processes release some kind of waste, and having enough water is critical to keep blood vessels open and those byproducts flowing to the liver and kidneys where they can be filtered out. (In the kidneys, you need enough water so that extra ions, sugars, and waste products can diffuse from the blood into the kidney and eventually leave your body as urine.) But when you’re not sufficiently hydrated, your kidneys try to conserve water by concentrating your urine. In the short run, the higher concentration of waste products in your urine means you lose less water, but in the long term it increases your risk of kidney stones and urinary tract infection.
Ironically, some detox methods—like colon cleansing, which can cause cramping, vomiting, and diarrhea—can actually work against your efforts to stay hydrated. Getting rid of fluids via excessive urination or defecation just makes it harder for your liver and kidneys to function.
So grab your pillow and a water bottle, and make your first purchase of the year something more fun—and effective—than a detox.
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