I just Googled “detox” and in 0.59 seconds, it spewed back 378,000,000 results and showed detoxification to be ‘alternative medicine’. Is something that our bodies are made to do really an ‘alternative’ path? With all of the recent hype around detoxing – whether it’s through pre-made powdered shakes, juices, skin therapy, infrared spas, foot baths, colonics, or batches of supplements- the word DETOX has turned into a catchphrase that is commonly linked to health. I beg to differ.
While these so-called (usually short-term) diet detoxes can benefit your health, it’s more important to dive into what’s really going on and stop trying to slug back smoothies that claim to fix every one of your health issues. Your health isn’t sold online, it’s not on the shelves for $39.99, and it’s definitely not an ‘alternative medicine’. The act of our organs processing toxins has turned into a marketing fad! Let’s peel back the layers, understand the function of our incredible body, and set up our system to work optimally for life, not just as a resolution.
*DISCLAIMER* I am not referring to the type of detoxes that are done for life-threatening addictions or for medicinal purposes given for interventions.
Our environment is full of foreign chemicals – look at the back of your shampoo, lotion, makeup, and packaged food; the 10-syllable words aren’t only confusing to our mind, but also to our body. This is why we are constructed with invaluable organs that help cleanse our blood so we stay disease-free! Just like a football team’s cheer squad, we need to support our system for optimal performance. What we consume, we become. If we consume fake products (false nutrients), we become ill (false health) and deficient in minerals and vitamins.
Think of your health on a spectrum – one end is illness/ disease and the other end is optimal health. Each decision we make and what we are surrounded by will push us towards one end of the spectrum. Our body is naturally inclined to want to feel well and will provide us with signs when out of balance.
You drank too much wine last night? Hangover. You had an awesome workout? Increased energy and vitality. A bad night’s sleep? Fuzzy mind. All of these messages we receive can go by the wayside until our system is pushed too far and we are forced to engage with our internal messages. This is usually when people are prone to ‘want’ to detox and ‘start over’.
The liver is one of the main organs involved with cleansing the blood and removing any impurities that can make our bodies tip towards toxicity. Our liver is one of our biggest cheerleaders in keeping us out of pain, at an optimal weight, with stable emotions, and on the wellness end of the spectrum. If our liver isn’t happy, it won’t move and cleanse properly. This can lead to a whole slew of imbalances with our digestive system, hormones, skin, etc. that can ALL BE PREVENTED.
So… do diet detoxes work?
Yes. No. It depends. We are individuals with individual genes and patterns that makeup how we respond to stress, food, and foreign substances. The majority of marketed detoxes are either in the form of juice or a powder/pill that is taken throughout the day. Some detoxes also come with meal plans (usually fruits, veggies, and minimal fats) to supplement the main product. I am all for increasing our intake of nature’s food (plants) and water and decreasing factory-made food and processed sugars.
There has been no evidence or studies that have proven long-term effects on ‘detox programs’; however, there have been multiple studies about how effective diets full of nature’s medicine (plants) can completely change our health.
Personally, I see a detox as a packaged time commitment of eating unprocessed food.
Can bottles of juices and some pills cleanse our liver from months, or even years, of poor nutrition and lifestyle choices? It’s a great start, but it’s what we choose to do on the other days of our lives that is more of an investment than a detox. We don’t need to flood our system for X-amount of days to force it to detox. Our body is always detoxing; it may just be clogged up and yearning for consistency in healthy food and lifestyle choices.
Here’s my tips on keeping your from ‘needing’ to detox and keeping you glowing and flowing year-round:
Clean Foods = Clean Blood
Fuel your vessel with foods that give it life! Factory-made foods may taste good, but over time, our taste buds get used to fake chemicals and fillers that don’t truly satisfy our palate. Bright colored, texturized, and nature-made foods are what our body (and genes) has evolved with; feed yourself with food made from the earth, where the ingredients are recognizable and have no ingredient listing at all!
The list of fruits and vegetables are endless. When our food is clean, our blood is clean; when our food is toxic, our blood is toxic. Consuming non-inflammatory foods (aka foods that you can find in nature) will keep you on the wellness-end of the spectrum so when toxicities and stressors do invade our system, we will be fueled enough to fight it off. You have control of your choices, your health, and your life.
Move Every Day
We were built to move! Movement supports healthy circulation, elimination, and detoxification. The most important rule of movement? Make it fun so you feel happy when you’re doing it or when you’re done. Whether it’s dancing, yoga, CrossFit, weightlifting, or walking, just move. A body in motion will stay in motion – when we stop moving on the outside, our inside also slows down.
You know what makes moving feel better? Consistent influx of real food. When we have clean fuel to burn, we run more optimally. Endorphins are released and can have a side effect of bliss – that’s one side effect that has no price tag.
Learn to Listen
Building awareness around our environment and ourselves will keep us in tune to the little red flags that pop up when our body needs attention. If we continue to ignore the bloating we get after salads, the headache that happens on the drive to work, the sore low back every day, or the irregularity of our bowel movements, our body will keep sending bigger and bigger messages until we are forced to change. The sooner we listen and take action, the sooner we can shift back towards wellness.
Social media tells us a lot… sometimes too much. Facebook isn’t a doctor and your 547 friends are not experiencing you. Clue into what signals your body gives you and start to find patterns of WHY.
Our body is like your bank account; every healthy choice is a deposit to your longevity savings. Small withdrawals (not optimal choices) add up over time and can leave us feeling empty, depleted, and with poor health. Planned detoxes may have they place as a short-term kick starter, but we should really step back and look at the bigger picture. Is a detox really going to change your habits that happen every other day of the year? Or are you just investing in temporary motivation that will leave you back at square one?
What will it be?
Prevent an overly-toxic and inflamed system with real, whole food found in nature or supplement an overly-toxic diet with a temporary detox.