Do Detoxes Actually Work?

We live in an age of instant gratification and get-rich-quick schemes. How often are you scrolling through your endless Facebook feed, seeing promises of glowing skin, flatter tummies, and heaps of energy--all in ten days when you try the newest detox diet!

Chances are if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

But First, What Is a Detox?

In simple terms, a detox is a short, dietary regimen claiming to detoxify organs and blood. These toxins are said to be due to external factors like processed foods and pollution interfering with your overall health.

Most detoxes include some sort of fasting with extremely minimal caloric intake. But in reality, there’s not much scientific research solidifying an agreed-upon definition explaining what a detox really is. Surely this should raise a few red flags.

So, what’s actually going on here? Is your coworker who’s been drinking nothing but lemonade for the last week really feeling as amazing as she claims? Maybe. But if you’re wondering whether detoxes really work, the short answer is no. Here’s why.

Your Body Has Its Own Detoxification System

Ok, time for a quick lesson in biology. Between our liver, lungs, kidneys, and colon, our bodies are constantly eliminating toxins for us.

Our liver and kidneys are the filters for our blood and our lungs monitor anything coming in through the air we breathe. Plus, our colon contains powerful and necessary bacteria that aids in flushing out anything unwanted. Aren’t our bodies wonderful?!

So, while the idea behind a detox diet is valid, for the most part, they’re completely unnecessary.

Drink Water and Eat Whole Foods Instead

For many people, eliminating poor food choices (yes, we’re talking to you--how many times have you ordered on PostMates this week?) can feel like a major detox, even if we’re eating nutritious, whole foods instead. In fact, it is a form of detox. Many proponents of these short detox stints recommend this method, going against juice cleanses and the like.

While we can usually rely on our amazing organs doing the detoxing for us, oftentimes they’ll get overwhelmed by all the soft drinks, chemicals, and--you guessed it--toxins that enter our body.

According to nutritionist Fiona Tuck, “These systems are designed to effectively process and protect us from exposure to daily toxins and our bodies are usually very capable in this process. However, if any of these systems become overburdened by poor lifestyle choices, environmental pollutants, medications or genetic weaknesses we can find ourselves feeling below average and at worst on the brink of disease.”

But still, strict and incredibly restrictive detoxes are not the answer. Instead of simply eliminating everything or entire food groups, switch things up instead. Swapping cheeseburgers for quinoa should be a gradual process. The point isn’t to shock the body into submission, but instead, adopt lifelong healthy habits that don’t require intense detox.

So, keep it simple. Drink more water and less alcohol. Eat more greens and less sugar. And don’t just do it for a week or two; Make a plan that you can stick with.

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