Detox. It’s become a loaded word in recent years. Some swear by its healing benefits; others will die on the hill of it being yet another wellness fad. Whether you believe in it or not, detoxing has one common definition: it’s the practice of following a specific diet to rid the body of toxins.
The truth is, both sides of the debate hold a degree of accuracy. “Yes, it is true that our body detoxifies itself. That’s why we have liver, feces, exhalation, sweat and urine,” advises Dr Lina Velikova, MD, PhD. “That said, keeping our bodies in check by expelling sugar, sodium, fat, and other processed junk can help us both feel and look better.”
Considering giving in to a natural detox? We got in touch with a team of brilliant wellness experts to learn more about when and how you should approach the process of toxin elimination. Here’s what they said:
Here are a few signs you should *maybe* *probably* *definitely* commit to a natural detox:
If you’ve noticed any of the following symptoms, Nutritionist Sharon Holand Gelfand suggests that toxic overload may be to blame.
1. You feel endlessly tired.
“Ongoing fatigue is an indication that your body's working overtime,” says Gelfand. “If you are tired even after a good night’s sleep, your body is talking to you, and it might be time to detox.”
2. You’re constipated… again.
The liver plays a key role in detoxifying and if you can’t eliminate the toxins through regular bowel movements, chances are the toxins aren’t being eliminated properly and are recirculating in your body.
3. Your skin has seen better days.
If your body isn’t getting rid of toxins, the liver looks for other ways to get rid of them and will try to expel them through your skin. This can lead to acne, rosacea, eczema, among other skin issues.
4. Oh those headaches.
This is how your body benefits from a natural detox program:
1. You combat toxins.
The number one benefit of a detox is––you guessed it––decreasing toxins. “We live in a world where even if we are eating well and taking care of ourselves, we are exposed to toxins daily,” says Gelfand. Toxins are in the air we breathe, the products we use on our skin, the chemicals we use to clean the house, and even the antibiotics prescribed to us. “These toxins can overburden our livers, backing it up, like a toilet.” A detox allows you to stimulate your liver to get rid of toxins in the body, so your body can perform more optimally.
2. You remove stress from the body.
“When you eliminate processed foods, cosmetics that contain nasty chemicals, and physical stress (such as overexercise or excessive workload), you are giving your body a break from trying to get rid of all the extra toxins. According to Nutritional Therapist Sonka Braunová, this allows your body to deal only with expelling real food waste. “This increases your body’s ability to respond to stress in general, as it won’t be so preoccupied with dodging toxins.”
3. You’ll experience a big, beautiful boost of energy.
The most amazing results Dr. Bill Cole observes in those who undergo a natural detox is their transition from “suffering, sluggishness, and struggling to get through the day” to a feeling of “vibrancy, vitality, and renewed excitement for the things they used to enjoy doing.”
Tips for detoxing naturally, according to the experts:
There are a lot of misconceptions about detoxing. That’s why so many people have a negative reaction to just the word alone. The misinformation shouldn’t stop you from exploring the benefits of the practice and seeing how a detox could serve you. To separate fact from fiction, we gathered these top tips for detoxing naturally from the experts:
1. Limit your detox to three to four times per year.
“Just as our food choices change with the season, so should detoxing your body,” adds Gelfand. “It gives you a chance to reset, rest and digest properly.”
2. Incorporate cold press juice shots and herbal teas.
According to Health Coach Nnenna Animashaun, getting through the first three days of a detox is the toughest part.
“My top tip is drinking cold press juice shots (containing ingredients like ginger, lemon juice, and coconut water) and herbal teas (such as turmeric, chamomile, or roasted dandelion) at least 3 times a day for calming, cleansing and reducing inflammation.”
Sipping on natural adaptogens is also good for centering your emotions and could help “take your mind off of what you're NOT eating or drinking.”
3. This should go without saying, but… EAT.
Gelfand warns against starving yourself. “That depletes your body of the nutrients you need to function, and it’s only a temporary fix."
4. Frame your mindset.
Health and Wellness Coach Lianne Sanders recommends focusing on what you are allowed to eat, rather than what you aren’t. “Thinking so much of what you are not allowed to have increases anxiety, which is not constructive for your detox.”
5. Remove what is not real and your body doesn’t recognize.
According to Braunová, this includes alcohol, coffee (unless sourced well), processed food, sugar, gluten, red meat and overexercising.
6. Drink ‘lots and ‘lots of water.
Every single wellness expert cited in this article mentioned the importance of drinking a lot of water during a detox, so if you’re going to take away any piece of advice, this should be it. The old eight cup a day rule has recently been updated by the Mayo Clinic to recommend 15.5 cups per day for men and 11.5 cups for women, so feel free to use that as a guideline.
Detoxing has gotten a bad reputation, because many people confuse it with crash diets and starvation. A healthy detox––that instead focuses on eliminating unnatural toxins, like alcohol and preservatives––can be a healthy way to reset your mind and body. As with any holistic health program it’s a smart idea to consult a doctor before jumping in.
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