Spring is a time to re-emerge after winter and get ready for summer. Feeling fresh after the cold months and going into summer with a clear mind and healthy body is great! But over the past years, the popularity of cleansing your body from apparent “toxins” has surged. There are countless products, diets and practices marketed to help you detox your body.
While a medical detox can save lives by cleansing the body from an overdose of drugs or poison, there is no reason to “detox” your body if you aren’t a recovering addict. We might be faced with some toxins in everyday life but generally, our bodies have evolved to handle them well.
Detox proponents say that most of your problems – feeling tired, having a bad mood, difficulty losing weight and so on – are caused by toxins in your body. To get rid of this built up of chemicals they recommend several methods. A popular method is a juice or water cleanse. Some detox diets allow a very restricted amount of food. Almost all detox diets are extremely low in calories. Then there are more advanced techniques of cleansing the body like intestinal cleansing. Intestinal cleansing is supposed to get rid of parasites and accumulated fecal matter that somehow got stuck in your intestines. Other methods like foot detox or hot/cold treatments claim you can just excrete toxic substances through your skin.
A magic cure to all of our problems would be great. And this is exactly why the detox industry is so successful! But unfortunately, the vast majority of detox diets are not backed by any science. Evidence has shown over and over again that these diets and products are just a waste of time and money. Dietary cleanses can actually be dangerous if done without proper supervision from a qualified professional. You will lose weight if you eat extremely little food for a week or two, however, most of it will be water. Another thing that will happen in your body is preservation of energy – if you restrict food your body thinks you are starving. As a result it will hold onto any source of energy and become more efficient at storing it as energy (fat). Studies have shown that detox diets can lead to lowering your basal metabolic rate, which results in rapid weight gain once you start eating normally again. You also put yourself at risk for nutrient deficiencies and, if the cleanse includes laxative products, dehydration, electrolyte depletion and even impairment of bowel function. Intestinal cleansing can also disturb your natural gut flora. Not to mention that if you ask any gastroenterologist, they will tell you that there is no such thing as fecal built up or toxic sludge in your intestines.
It is true that we are faced with toxins in everyday life. So if detox practices aren’t effective – how do our bodies protect themselves from harmful substances? We often forget how amazing our bodies are at keeping us alive. Here is how your body is protecting you:
The liver is the body’s main filter. It neutralizes harmful chemicals and prepares their elimination from your body. The liver also regulates the metabolism of drugs which makes it one of the most important parts of your body’s defense system.
The skin is your largest organ. It’s main function is providing a barrier against harmful substances. However, the skin is a one-way defense system-you can’t sweat out toxins (think about how dangerous that would be)!
The intestines screen out unwelcome visitors before nutrients are absorbed into the blood.
Your immune system works 24/7 to protect you. This efficient defense network screens blood plasma, lymph and even the spaces between your cells for substances that need to be eliminated.
The respiratory system does amazing work to excrete foreign substances. You know the fine fine hairs in your nose? They are there for a reason! They are a defense mechanism. They can trap dirt and other substances that you don’t want to inhale. If anything makes it through this barrier, your lungs will produce mucus and eliminate it.
The kidneys are very efficient in filtering out any waste from your body. Why do you think urine is used to test for toxins like drugs in your body?
The bottom line is that your body is incredibly efficient at filtering out toxins (or detoxing). All it needs from you is a proper support in the form of good food and an active lifestyle.