If you watch TV or been on social media lately chances are you see advertisements for a detox diet or colon cleanse. These practices can seem very alluring when they promise both immense weight loss and the ridding of toxic chemicals in your body. We all know modern people face exposure to chemicals every day, so it would seem like ridding ourselves of toxins is the best way to go.
Let’s take a look at these common cleanses and detox diets to see what kind of toxins they can get rid of, if any. Before we do that, let’s learn a little more about toxins.
All About Toxins
Toxins can range in definition depending on whom you talk to. Many people believe that toxins are abundant in processed foods in the form of preservatives, and in our natural environment. Cleanses offer you a way to rid yourself of these toxins. Unfortunately, toxins aren’t usually found trapped in your digestive tract.
Toxins can be present in the food you take in, the water you drink, and the air you breathe. For detox diets and cleanses that advocate eating only raw organic fruits and vegetables, it’s important to know that even these are not safe from toxins. Frequently organic produce is tainted with toxins like E. coli and salmonella.
The Body Dumps Toxins
Live Science notes that your body is already well-equipped to get rid of toxins on its own. The liver and kidneys are your body’s own toxin regulation system. Many detoxes and cleanses that claim to rid the liver of harmful chemicals and toxins may contain damaging diuretics or other substances.
The liver will break down toxins into water-soluble chemicals that can sweat out of the body. The kidneys filter other harmful chemicals. Berkeley Wellness also points out that your skin does a wonderful job of protecting you from most toxins that you would absorb.
What do Cleanses do?
There are several types of cleanses advertised. Some are colon cleanses, juice cleanses, and fasting cleanses. These cleanses all do different things to the body while not actually cleaning out toxins.
Colon cleanses provide the dieter with high amounts of fiber and laxatives, or water gets injected into the colon to clean it out. This serves to empty the bowels of any of their contents. While users of a colon cleanse may often see temporary weight loss results, but as soon as they begin to eat again, and natural digestive processes take over, the weight will come back on.
Colon cleanses can be harmful because they can get rid of the healthy bacteria in the colon. In some colon cleanses harmful substances are used. The Mayo Clinic points to a particularly crazy method that uses coffee enemas, which has been linked to numerous deaths. Colon cleanses can also cause nausea and vomiting along with cramping and bloating.
Juice Fasts encourage users to juice fruits and vegetables as their primary source of nutrition. Juice cleanses can be effective when they are done right because they help you to get an influx of vegetable nutrients, especially antioxidants that fight free radicals that cause oxidative stress.
However, Prevention magazine notes that “juice detoxes” are not actually detoxing anything because our bodies already have filtration systems, like the liver and kidneys, in place to remove toxins. However, the nutrients from juicing and smoothies can help improve your nutritional profile and kickstart a healthy diet that will support your body’s natural detoxification systems.
Finally, there are people who believe that water fasting is the perfect way to cleanse your body. Lifehack points out that during a water fast a breakdown in electrolyte cell homeostasis can occur, if that happens you can have hypotension, anemia, gout, and even cardiac arrest.
The bottom line is when trying to detox your body the best thing you can do is eat whole, minimally processed foods that will allow your body to function to the best of its ability. No juice fast, colon cleanse or water fast is going to rid your body of excess toxins. They may just leave you sicker than when you started.