I’ve become accustomed to hearing people say, “I need a detox” or “I need a cleanse,” and I’m often asked for detox recommendations. But what exactly is a detox, and do we really need it?
There are many detoxifying programmes on the market, ranging from three-day to 21-day cleanses, teas, juicing, souping and countless others. Do these detoxifying programmes actually work? The answer is yes and no.
You’re probably confused right now, but here’s why I say no: on its own, the body does an excellent job at detoxifying itself. The body detoxes and cleanses itself in various ways, including breathing and excretion, which is referred to as natural detoxification. The body is designed to rid itself of toxins without any external assistance, so given the right food, the body naturally does this on a daily basis. However, due to our constant consumption of junk food, high in the three killers–salt, sugar and fat, the body can become overburdened. This disturbs its natural detoxification process, leading to deficiencies, toxicity and inflammation.
In addition to consuming a clean/healthy diet (little to no processed foods), the products applied to the skin and hair (shampoos, lotions, deodorants, soaps, etc) can result in toxicity because of the chemicals and toxins they contain. This is a key point most people almost never pay attention to. It is important to know that almost 50 per cent of what is applied to the skin is directly absorbed into the body.
Going back to the foods we eat and how that affects natural detoxification, my personal philosophy is to eat foods that binds to the toxins, thus allowing them to pass through relatively unimpeded while freeing up your digestive system to do some internal cleansing. If toxins aren’t removed, they go into the bloodstream and into the liver, and unless you help the liver to get rid of them, you can cause some serious damage. This is where a detox programme can be of help. However, it’s not something we should rely on, instead of eating well and being conscientious about the products we use. The long and short of it is that detoxification should not and cannot just be limited to a one-off process. Do you exercise only when it’s approaching summer or the carnival season? If the answer is yes, then you know what that gets you–how hard you have to hit the gym, and the unhealthy, restrictive ‘dieting’. If you had been keeping fit all year round, you’d already be in shape for the season without all that stress.
Don’t get caught up in the marketing ploys of companies promising to do what the body can do on its own, once given the tools. Here’s what you need to do to support the body’s natural detoxification process:
●Eat healthier. Stick to things that are as close to nature as possible. Skip those that contain too many ingredients, especially ones you can’t pronounce. Watch out for toxic ingredients, artificial sweeteners, fake colourings, flavourings and sweeteners.
●Drink water, lots of it. This helps your kidneys to function optimally, flushing toxins from the blood and urine, and processing water-soluble toxins from the liver.
●Stay active. This helps to keep the body healthy, so all its systems function optimally.
So, do you really need that 21-day cleanse? No. The body is a lot stronger and more capable than we give it credit for, and the sooner we understand that, the better off we will be. As we enable it to properly rid us of toxins, our tissues benefit by getting more out of the nutrients we consume. It’s important to consider every meal, every beverage, every movement, and even our stress levels, to help our bodies function as they were designed to do.
Contributed by Meisha-Gay Mattis, founder of Bodhi, a Kingston-based holistic wellness company. She is a certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and Personal Fitness Trainer. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or visit any of the following