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Detox, short for detoxification, is a popular buzzword in diet culture and the supplement industry. A detox usually entails following a specific diet or using a detox supplement to eliminate harmful toxins in the body, and supposedly improve health and accelerate weight loss.
These diets and products are just expensive gimmicks designed to make money. A healthy body can detox itself naturally without the use of these things, but there are some things you can do to enhance your body’s detoxification system.
Detox supplements often involve taking laxatives, diuretics, tea, juice, or vitamins and minerals that are believed to have detoxing capabilities.
“Toxins” isn’t specifically defined in the context of detoxes, but they typically include pollutants, synthetic chemicals, heavy metals, and processed foods, which may negatively impact health.
Detox products don’t specify the toxins they are designed to eliminate or the means by which it does so. According to a large body of research, there is no scientific evidence that supports the use of detox diets or detox supplements to promote weight loss or the elimination of toxic substances.
Detox products and diets are essentially useless because your body has everything it needs to eliminate toxins. Your liver, kidneys, skin, lungs, and digestive system filter and rid the body of toxins every day.
While you don’t need expensive products and special diets, you can do things to optimize your health and enhance your body’s natural detoxification system.
Hydration is an important component of your body’s detox system. Water performs many functions in the body including temperature regulation, joint lubrication, digestion, nutrient absorption, and elimination of your body’s waste products (toxins).
Water moves these toxins through the body, thoroughly eliminating them through urination, breathing, and sweating. To ensure your body can function optimally, stay adequately hydrated.
Getting good sleep and enough of it is important for supporting your body’s detox system. During sleep, your brain organizes data from the day, recharges, and also eliminates toxic waste products that build up during the day.
If you are getting inadequate sleep, your body cannot properly rid itself of these harmful substances. Sleep deprivation is associated with both short- and long-term effects including stress, anxiety, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity
To support good health, you should sleep about 7-9 hours nightly.
Your liver is responsible for metabolizing and eliminating up to 90% of the alcohol you consume from the body. Alcohol is metabolized to a known cancer-causing substance called acetaldehyde. The liver then converts it to a harmless substance called acetate and excretes it from the body. This process places significant stress on the liver when alcohol is consumed in excess.
Excessive alcohol intake can cause fat buildup, inflammation, and scarring which can impair your liver function. When the liver cannot function properly, wastes and toxins cannot be filtered from the body.
You can support liver health by limiting or abstaining from alcohol intake. If you do drink, the dietary guidelines recommend women limit their alcohol intake to 1 drink per day and men to 2 per day.
Despite the lack of evidence supporting the use of detox diets for detoxification of the body, some dietary changes and lifestyle habits might aid in reducing toxin load and enhance your body’s detoxification system.
Drinking a greens supplement is one way to increase your intake of these foods. Naked Green Superfood Powder includes broccoli, kale, and spinach along with other antioxidant-containing foods.
Foods that are high in sulfur, like broccoli and kale, can increase the effectiveness of glutathione, an important antioxidant that plays a significant role in removing toxins from the body. Additionally, these foods can help with the excretion of heavy metals.
While processed foods and added sugar are okay to consume in moderation, they can negatively impact health and increase the risk for disease when they are overconsumed.
The overconsumption of these foods has been linked to increased risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. These health conditions can harm important organs that are involved in ridding the body of harmful toxins.
For example, drinking too many sugar-sweetened beverages over time can lead to fatty liver disease which alters the function of the liver.
You can support your body’s detoxification system by enjoying processed foods and added sugar in moderation.
Detox products are popular in the weight loss and health industry, however, you actually don’t need any special diets or expensive detox products to rid your body of toxins. Your liver and kidneys, along with your digestive system, skin, and lungs detoxify your body on their own when they are healthy.
You can support the health of your body’s detoxification system by staying hydrated, getting 7-9 hours of sleep, limiting alcohol intake, taking a greens supplement, and limiting the intake of highly processed foods.
Written by Kristen Carli, MS, RD
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