Do you need a detox to rid your body of “toxins?” That is a question many of my clients have been asking with the turn of the New Year. Let’s uncover the evidence-based truth behind these detox diets/supplements.
What is a Detox?
A detox is a type of diet that is supposed to clean your intestines of toxins. These diets typically involve a period of fasting that may be followed by a strict diet of raw vegetables, fruit and fruit juices, and/or water. Some detox diets encourage using herbs and other supplements along with colon cleansing (enemas) to completely empty the intestines. There is very little evidence that “detoxes” actually work at removing toxins from your body. Some detoxification processes can also be dangerous since they are often too low in calories, promote unregulated supplements, and lead to electrolyte imbalances.
Do You Need It?
Good news – your body doesn’t need any external detoxes! Detoxification is an ongoing, vital process that your body does all on its own in order to survive. The liver and kidneys work around the clock to keep your body from being affected by any toxins. The liver filters and removes compounds from the body, including toxins that the body produces as part of normal metabolism. It also filters out external toxins such as alcohol, chemicals we encounter through food or personal care products, and our environment to protect our bodies from getting sick. On the other hand, the kidneys filter the blood and remove waste products that are later excreted through the urine.
What Can You do Naturally?
If you are looking for ways to aid your body in its natural detox process, try the following tips:
- Eat your fruits and vegetables. These foods are packed fiber, which helps to stimulate your GI tract and keep things moving. Aim for at least 3 servings of fruit and 4 servings of vegetables per day.
- Maintain hydration by drinking plenty of water. Water aids in the process of filtration via your kidneys and will also help in the breakdown of fiber. The Institute of Medicine recommends 9 cups of fluid for females and 11 cups for males.
- Eat naturally fermented foods such as kefir, yogurt, kimchi and sauerkraut to boost beneficial gut bacteria.
- Exercise regularly. Not only is exercise beneficial for reducing your risk of chronic disease, but it also helps to stimulate the GI tract. The CDC recommends 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week.
Your action goal for today is to work on naturally “detoxifying” your body with fiber, fluid and/or exercise instead of using fad diets or supplements. If you are wondering about any particular detox products, drop it in the comments below.