Detox Diets & Body Cleanses: Are They Even Safe?

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Detox diets… Body cleanses… Colon cleanses… Bowel cleanses…

You’ve probably heard all of these terms used in reference to “ridding your system of unhealthy toxins”—but what do these terms actually mean?

Do you really need to be on a “detox diet” or “cleanse” your body?

Are programs and products marketed as detoxes and cleanses even safe to do?

To start us off, all of these terms get a LOT of hype in the media, and people tend to use various terms interchangeably, which makes it especially confusing for consumers.

So what IS the difference between a Detox Diet and a Cleanse?
Generally, both detoxes and cleanses are methods that people use to clear or flush toxins out of their body.

But there are some important differences…

Detox Diet:

Requires you to be on a very restrictive diet that only allows you to consume only a small selection of food. A “detox diet” requires you to eat certain foods and usually for a specified amount of time, often several days to even several weeks.

Some detox diets actually involve fasting for a period of time. As a result, your body might not get the necessary nutrients it needs to function properly, and your energy level could be negatively impacted, sometimes dramatically, and can even be accompanied by “detox flu” symptoms.

Cleanse:

Typically involves consuming some sort of herbal or supplement product (i.e., pills, powders, tinctures) intended to “flush” out your digestive tract—namely the large colon or bowel.

What you need to understand is that these products could cause undesirable side effects and may  contain chemicals that might not be healthy or safe, thus defeating the purpose of performing a “body or bowel cleanse” in the first place.

Some cleanses also involve being on a restrictive diet for at least a short period of time—usually the number of days that the cleanse supplements have been recommended for.

Why do people feel they need to “cleanse” their body anyway?

Besides getting rid of an overaccumulation of toxins in their system (known or suspected), there are other reasons why people may wish to try detox diets and cleanses, including the following:

  • They want to lose weight and look/feel slimmer & healthier
  • They think it will make them healthier, and there’s usually a perceived “health halo” that accompanies a cleanse program or product
  • They went on a vacation and didn’t eat healthy/imbibed too much OR they’re planning on going on a vacation and want to detox before they tox!

What the media doesn’t tell you is that our system can remove its own waste naturally. In fact, the body is cleverly designed to do just that.

Our body has its own built-in detox system that works on its own every day, thanks to the intestines, gall bladder, liver, kidneys, and bladder. One of the main functions of the liver is to remove toxins from our blood.

Here are some things you can do day-to-day and year-round to naturally support your body’s own detoxification processes:

  • EXERCISE & SWEAT REGULARLY. This not only helps you manage your weight, but it also gets rid of toxins while you’re sweating.
  • DRINK FILTERED WATER. Water helps flush out and cleanse your system. Add some fresh fruit or veggies to enhance the flavor of plain, filtered water.
  • EAT GOOD FATS. Ditch the processed and refined fats and instead consume healthier good fats such as olives and olive oil, raw nuts and seeds, coconut oil, and avocados.
  • UP THE FIBER. Fiber helps to move toxins and waste that have built up in your system through your system naturally. Think of fiber like a stiff bristled broom for your digestive system!
  • BE A SAVVY LABEL READER. If you don’t recognize the ingredients (or can’t pronounce them!) on the label, then you might want to skip that food because it’s probably NOT food! There could be a chemical that results in negative side effects and these chemicals are additional toxins that enter your body.
  • EAT MORE REAL, WHOLE FOODS. The more natural the food—the shorter of an ingredient list is has (or no list!)—the better for your body and organs.


Speaking of reducing the toxin load on your body, ”mocktails” or beverages that imitate cocktails but don’t contain any alcohol, have become a huge trend, especially for those seeking healthier, more natural beverages without adding additional toxins to our system.

This Strawberry Orange Mocktail recipe is as refreshing as it is healthy and can easily be made in just a few minutes.


RECIPE: Strawberry Orange “Mocktail”

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. fresh strawberries (if using frozen, unsweetened strawberries, can adjust the ice)
  • ½ cup pure orange juice
  • ½ cup ice cubes
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice

Top with

  • ½ cup sparkling water, lemon or lime flavored, if desired


Preparation

  • Place fruit, juice, and ice in a blender. Blend on medium-high until the desired consistency is reached. Should be a smoothie-like thickness.
  • Pour into glass, ¾ full, then top with sparkling water. Leave as is or stir in slightly.
  • Enjoy the alcohol-free, naturally “detoxing” refreshment!