Demystifying Detox Diets: What They Are and How They Help

No matter the season, a good cleaning always makes you feel better. When it comes to your body, a detoxifying cleanse takes the place of spring (or fall) cleaning, and can leave you feeling lighter, leaner and ready for action. Detox diets and cleanses have been all the rage, but it’s important to understand exactly what a detox diet is, why it’s beneficial, and the best ways to do your own, safe detox.

What Is a Detox Diet?

To understand a detox diet, you first have to understand the natural process of detoxification. Every day our bodies naturally neutralize and eliminate toxins. This ongoing process removes natural waste products as well as human-made toxins that enter our systems through food, water and other environmental influences.

A detox diet is a short-term program that jump-starts the body’s natural detoxification process. Detox diets are used to minimize toxins and harmful chemicals in the body, fortify the body with important vitamins, antioxidants and crucial detoxifying nutrients and can be used to aid in weight loss.

Detox diets use foods that draw out toxins through increased urination and bowel movement. High fiber foods and those containing a high percentage of water are common elements in a detox diet. These foods help the kidneys, liver, intestines and lymphatic systems work to transform potentially harmful toxins into compounds that are detected as waste and excreted from the body.

Why Is Detox Good For Me?

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Research continues to show that more and more the chemicals we ingest on a regular basis through water, food and air settle into fat cells and make a permanent home in our bodies. These toxins can be anything from hormones added to food to pesticides used on produce. Other culprits include chemicals from food packaging, environmental pollutants, food additives and household cleaners and detergents.

In addition, if your diet lacks necessary nutrients, your body’s natural ability to detoxify can become impaired, leading to toxic build-up in cells and tissues. This extra toxic burden is thought to lead to impaired immune function, metabolism issues, hormonal imbalances and other physical dysfunction.

Signs that you might benefit from a detox include fatigue, trouble concentrating, muscle aches, persistent bad breath, sallow skin and poor digestion. By flushing out the toxins harbored in your body, you essentially push a reset button.

Be sure to mark your detox diet as a turning point. It doesn’t do much good to go through a cleanse only to start up with the same bad habits once complete. This should be a brand new start for your personal health, nutrition and fitness regimen.

What Are the Best Ways to Detox?

There are a variety of detox diets out there. Some rely primarily on fasting and liquids, while others focus on incorporating organic, whole foods that boost the body’s natural detoxification function. Detox diets can also last anywhere from a weekend to as many as 10 days.

If you’ve been feeling sluggish and are looking to press the restart button on your body, a detox diet might be worth trying. If you’re ready to flush those toxins, here are some tried-and-true daily detox tips.

  • Liquid Fast —Fasts that eliminate consumption of solid food are commonly used to detox. First-timers should limit themselves to a weekend, and supplement water with fruit juice and dinners of miso soup or brown rice and vegetables. Some recommend adding lemon, cayenne pepper and maple syrup to water during a liquid fast.
  • Fruits & Veggies —The natural fiber and nutrients found in most fruits and vegetables help your body flush out the bad stuff. Dried fruits are a great way to stave off hunger pangs and green foods like broccoli and kale are known for their detoxifying qualities.
  • Nuts & Seeds —Raw, unsalted nuts and seeds are great sources of protein. In addition to keeping your tummy from growling, they also help support the body’s natural detoxification process.
  • Massage  —While not a dietary change, massage can help move fluids through the lymphatic system, which supports natural detoxification. And if you’re depriving yourself of your typical treats, a good massage may be the only thing that will keep you from breaking down and making a midnight milkshake run.
  • Exercise  —You don’t want to place extra stress on your body while detoxing, but low-impact exercise like walking or relaxing yoga can augment your efforts. It also poises your body for healthy activity once the cleanse is over. Anything that involves mindfulness, deep breathing or relaxation techniques will support your detoxification goals.

Things to Keep in Mind

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As with any extreme change to your diet or exercise plan, you should consult a health professional before starting a new program.

Detoxification should not be looked at as a cure-all for weight loss or general malaise. Typically people will lose weight and fat during a detox diet; however, if that diet isn’t followed up with healthy habits the results won’t last.

Detoxification is a natural process. You can incorporate detox-friendly foods and habits into your daily routine without launching into a full-blown detox diet.

If undertaken with a health-care provider’s supervision and common sense, a detox diet can be a great way to turn over a new leaf when it comes to your health and wellness. Just remember that detoxing isn’t a magic fix. To reap the full benefits of a detox diet it needs to be part of an overall wellness makeover. But the immediate benefits you’ll feel in your mind and body make detoxing a great motivator to help you stick with your new, healthy practices.

Sources

http://www.webmd.com/diet/detox-diets-cleansing-body

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/detox-diets/faq-20058040

http://www.shape.com/healthy-eating/healthy-drinks/top-10-cleanses-2014

http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/weight-loss/plans/detox/healthy-detox-diets/

http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20570282,00.html

http://altmedicine.about.com/cs/dietarytherapy/a/DetoxBasics.htm

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