The sceptics believe that detoxing is unnecessary – we have incredibly resilient detox organs, especially our liver, which is equipped to deal with whatever we throw at it! And, in medical terms detoxing normally refers to an extreme medical intervention in response to severe poisoning (from alcohol, drugs or other serious chemicals).
When it comes to dietary detoxing, normally it is associated with abstinence and often stupidity, thanks to extremely restrictive diets such as consuming nothing but lemon juice and syrup for days!
So is “detoxing” really just a stupid fad without any sound evidence base to support the benefits?
Although detoxing may seem like a recent health obsession, the practice of dietary cleansing is thousands of years old. The ancient healthcare system of Ayurveda placed a strong emphasis on regular removal of accumulated toxins and many Ayurvedic detoxes are very similar to modern day nutritional cleanse programmes. And, I am totally in favour of the dietary equivalent of a good old spring clean!
So what exactly is detoxing?
Detoxing should not be about scary abstinence, although certain things, such as coffee, alcohol and sugar, are normally “off-limits”. A balanced detox programme is aimed at helping our liver and kidneys to do their job more efficiently by providing nutrient rich foods, especially quality proteins, essential fats and an abundance of vegetables. Drinking plenty of caffeine-free liquid and eating soluble fibre also helps the body excrete wastes, including old hormones and the accumulation of food waste in your intestines. Throughout a detox period it is normal to enhance the healing process by avoiding foods that place an increased burden on excretory organs and/or are commonly associated with food sensitivities (e.g. gluten, wheat, dairy, nightshade vegetables and eggs). In addition, avoiding environmental toxins is also an intrinsic part of detoxing. When I design detox programmes I always choose foods that I love to eat and certainly never starve myself as feeling miserable and hungry makes failure a certainty!
Initially it is common to experience headaches and a drop in energy but very quickly most people start to feel better. However, as detoxing often releases toxins stored in fat cells, and weight loss can be expected, detoxes should not by undertaken whilst pregnant or breast-feeding.
Want to try for yourself?
I regularly take clients through a personalised cleanse programme designed to address their specific symptoms but which will also improve digestive health, reduce bloating and increase energy. Skin, hair and nails also benefit as the digestive tract becomes less clogged and the body is able to eliminate toxins more quickly. Eating nutrient-dense foods, that support all detox organs including your skin, liver, kidneys and lymph system, enhances your body’s intrinsic ability to detox as all these organs are able to work more efficiently again.