When it comes to nutrition, detoxes and cleanses are essentially just a marketing scheme to sell a product to those folks out there looking for a quick fix. The truth is that if you have a liver, gastrointestinal tract, and at least one kidney that works, your body is constantly detoxing itself. These organs are working full time to maintain homeostasis and clear out toxins and other harmful substances from the body. Your body is truly remarkable and is designed to heal itself!
Keep reading if you want to hear the truth behind detoxes and how to support your body’s natural detoxification processes.
All about detoxes + why they don’t work
Green juice - Are juice cleanses legit?
In my opinion, green juices aren’t that great. Yes, they are loaded with nutrients, but they’re all carbohydrates and are missing two key components...fiber and protein. Not to mention how extremely EXPENSIVE green juices are! All in all, juice cleanses empty your wallet while leaving you super hungry and unsatisfied.
Are detox teas any good?
Detox teas can be kind of dangerous and are essentially glorified laxatives...yep! I said it! Senna is a laxative that is commonly found in detox teas and can be a cause of cramping and discomfort for many people. This can lead to even more harm for those with IBD and IBS. Not only are laxatives found in detox teas, but detox teas are also diuretics. First you pooped your brains out; then you lost a ton of water. You may lose a little weight, but it’s only temporary and, again, mostly lost water. So, the only thing these detox teas are cleansing is your colon - not toxins!
Other detox diets + programs
There are so many detox diet programs out there. Do any of those detox diets work? The short answer is not really. Some of these have good qualities about them such as focusing on foods that are nutrient-dense, non-processed, and to drink adequate amounts of water each day. However, many of these programs are highly restrictive and may advise you to cut out certain food groups altogether. This can be risky because it promotes disordered eating habits and may lead to the exclusion of certain vitamins and minerals from your diet.
I don’t know about you, but I do not want to give up my favorite foods! I believe that all foods can fit into a healthy diet. There is no need to cut out your favorite dishes if you learn moderation and how to fit them into a long-term eating pattern.
Are there alternatives to detoxing? 5 ways to support your body’s natural detoxification
Instead of participating in potentially harmful and unsustainable detoxes, support your body’s natural processes by doing the following:
1. Choosing to eat nutritious foods daily
Eat a balanced diet that includes protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats
Load up on fruits and vegetables. They contain phytonutrients - plant compounds that are protective against diseases and are potent antioxidants
- Examples of antioxidant-rich foods: onions, garlic, broccoli, kale, berries, and pecans
Consume dietary fiber and add fermented foods to your diet to support a healthy gut and keep your bowels regular
2. Exercising and moving daily
Add more activity into your day and keep a regular workout schedule. Exercise keeps your brain and body in top shape as well as improving mood and mental health
3. Getting adequate sleep every night
For adults, sleeping 7 or more hours per day is adequate to support good health. Lack of sleep is linked to increased weight, insulin resistance, and a higher risk of developing heart disease
4. Stress management
Chronic stress has the potential to exacerbate health problems.Try meditation, deep breathing, yoga, art, or a walk to lessen stress...the possibilities are endless! Do the things that make you feel amazing
5. Stay hydrated
Analyze your water intake and make adjustments as necessary. I recommend drinking no less than 2.5 liters per day to hydrate and help flush out toxins and waste
If you still think you need a detox after reading this, think about why. Maybe what you’ll come to find is that pursuing a lifestyle change is what you really need instead of a “quick fix” detox program. There’s nothing wrong with trying new things during your nutrition journey as long as you evaluate and learn from mistakes along the way. Making lifestyle changes not only support the body’s natural detoxification system, but will also lead to long term weight loss and maintenance.
The reason that all of my clients come to me is that they want to be done with the quick fixes and yo-yo dieting. They want sustainable weight loss that is going to last forever; the kind that supports your body’s natural detoxification and makes you feel amazing every day.
If you need the support of a registered dietitian during your health journey, apply to my 1:1 coaching program. My goal is to teach you the skills you need for success so that I’m the last dietitian you’ll ever need.