About every 3,000 miles or so, we get the oil changed for our car or SUV, the idea being to keep our vehicles running clean and smoothly. We do what the instruction manual tells us to do, or we risk car problems. Our bodies beg for the same sort of treatment. This entails getting rid of routine waste as well as harmful toxins, and for that there has to be a will and a way. Detox is short for detoxification, and a process that has been around for centuries, dating back to traditional Ayurvedic and Chinese medical practices. Detoxification involves cleansing and nourishing the body from the inside out – just like an oil change involves draining out the used oil and replacing it with fresh. The goal, in regard to our bodies, is to remove toxins from our body and replace them with healthy nutrients. Per gaiam.com, this helps guard our body against diseases and essentially gives us a makeover that (hopefully) induces optimum health.
Detoxification Is Not a Fad DietOur bodies have a strong detoxification capability all its own – it knows how to get rid of toxins regardless what we eat. For that, we can thank our body's organs such as the liver and our kidneys, which ordinarily can do the cleansing job quite well. Putting yourself on a detox program should not be a frivolous exercise as part of a fad or with the thought you will lose a lot of weight. That's not what it's for. If you still want to do go through a detox process, it is essential that you discuss this with your personal physician first to talk specifics about what detox program you want to use and to get a full understanding of the possible dangers of a body cleanse, such as producing low blood sugar levels for a diabetic or side effects like fatigue, muscle aches and nausea, per webmd.com. Repeat: using a detox process for weight loss misses the point.
What Does Detoxification Accomplish?Just as the word implies, detoxification involves ridding our bodies of toxins, which are substances that can harm our bodies, perhaps even be poisonous. These toxins can include metals, chemicals, pollutants, pesticides, and artificial food ingredients, per globalhealingcenter.com. Perhaps you don't realize it, but one sobering fact is that we come in almost constant contact with toxins, just through the air we breathe, the food we eat, and what we drink. One thing a detox is not is a car wash. In fact, detoxification involves cleansing the blood, which usually means removing impurities from the blood in the liver, where toxins are processed for elimination, as gaiam.com puts it. Some of this work can also be handled by the kidneys, intestines, lungs, lymphatic system, and even the skin. But even those mechanisms can become overwhelmed, or somehow compromised, damaging our body because impurities aren't being properly filtered. Here are some ways in which a detox program – red flag: not to be confused with the kind of detox programs used in substance-abuse treatments – can assist the body's natural cleansing operations:
- The fasting aspect of a detox program gives the organs needed rest. Recharge the batteries!
- It gives the liver an added boost in driving out toxins from the body.
- It also stimulates expulsion of toxins through the intestines (including the colon), kidneys, and skin.
- Improves blood circulation.
- Provides healthy nutrients that provide refueling for the body.
Body Detoxification TipsInstead of going all-in on some sort of prescribed detox process that requires all sorts of prep, instructions, and professional guidance, there are some fairly simple things you can do in your everyday life to give your body a detox boost. Combined, they can go a long way. Here are some of them:
- Exercise. Yes, you read it right. A good workout makes you sweat; sweating helps push toxins out of your body; and studies have found traces of arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury in human sweat, per globalhealingcenter.com.
- Hydrate. You've probably heard this one at least a dozen times but drinking plenty of water daily can do a lot of great things for you, detox included. Remember, this is all about water – not coffee, not Coke, not beer. If drinking eight eight-ounce glasses of water sounds a bit drab, try adding lemon or cucumber for added flavor.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables. They keep the digestive tract moving efficiently and effectively, per wsj.com.
- Reduce stress. Easier said than done? So be it. But know that stress tells your body to release stress hormones that can help create toxins and hinder detoxification enzymes in the liver, per gaiam.com.
- Eat fiber. Plenty of it. Beets, artichokes, cabbage, broccoli, and seaweed get good grades in this regard. All are considered excellent detoxifying foods.
- Vitamin C. It helps the body produce glutathione, a substance in the liver that helps ward off toxins.
- Herbs and supplements. Take your pick, at least among those known to be good detoxifiers. Count milk thistle and dandelion root among those that are good for cleansing and protecting the liver.