Published Sept 23, 2020
Detoxification, or more commonly referred to as “detox,” is one of the well-known pop culture trends. When we hear the word detox, we think of fasting from solid foods and replacing them with healthy, green smoothies, with hopes that these will cleanse our body of its toxins. While these smoothies and all the other detox diets out there may somewhat help, detoxification is a continuous process our body goes through.
Our bodies are made up of different systems that play vital functions in maintaining our wellbeing. One of these functions is detoxification. The human body is naturally well-equipped to eliminate toxins that could harm this well-oiled machine. Detoxification is mainly handled by the liver, kidneys, digestive system, skin, and lungs. In order to effectively process and eliminate toxins from our body, these body parts and systems have to be in good working condition. In this article, we’ll be talking about detox diets, probiotics, and how to detox properly.
Are detox diets effective?
Detox diets are marketed with promises of flushing harmful toxins from your body. These diets are advertised to give your digestive system a much-needed break and restart your metabolism, having you feeling more youthful and refreshed. Also referred to as “cleanses,” detoxes can get quite extreme with specific restrictions as to what you should and shouldn’t consume.
These detoxes generally require you to replace solid foods with liquids, fast for a period and take various diuretics, laxatives, and teas. However, most detoxes do not have explicit explanations as to how and which toxins they target. Furthermore, there have been no significant scientific bases that these detoxes even work in eliminating toxins. In a lot of cases, they may even be causing more harm than good.
According to Healthline, there are four main types of detox diets, which are:
- Juice or smoothie cleanse: While fresh fruit and vegetable juices and smoothies definitely have their place in a healthy diet, they should not be the only source of nutrients for a sustained period. These diets have a glaring lack of protein and fats, which are necessary to maintain healthy functions. Not only do these diets leave you feeling hungry, but they could also lead to several health conditions from the nutrient deficiencies.
- Liver detox: The liver is the body’s primary filtration system, filtering over a tenth of your total blood volume a minute. Again, research shows that your liver does not require these extreme diets to repair it. The liver is accustomed to working with all these toxins and naturally regenerates without special measures.
- Food restriction: Some detoxes will require you to eliminate a specific food group from your diet to flush out toxins. This technique may be helpful in certain situations, but it may also be equally dangerous to your health.
- Colon cleanse: The last and certainly not the least are colon cleanses. While the other entries on this list are focused on the food we put into our bodies, colon cleanses focus on what comes out the other end. This type of cleanse involves supplementing with laxatives to promote bowel movement. It may also require something called colon hydrotherapy, which involves trying to flush out the waste and sludge in our colons by drinking heaping amounts of water at a time. You can imagine that these can be extremely uncomfortable, but they can also be dangerous. According to physicians, you should never try colon cleanses and hydrotherapy without consulting a doctor.
What should I do instead of going on a detox diet?
After reading all of that above, you’ll probably want to avoid detox diets too. But the question now is, “how can we help our bodies detoxify?” Lucky for you, our bodies naturally detoxify, and there are many ways we can give it an extra push in that process.
According to Healthline again, here are some natural ways to aid our bodies in detoxification:
- Limit alcohol
- Focus on sleep
- Drink more water
- Reduce your intake of sugar and processed foods
- Eat antioxidant-rich foods
- Eat foods high in prebiotics
- Decrease your salt intake
- Get active (Exercise more)
- Eat sulfur-rich foods
- Switch to natural cleaning products
- Choose natural body care products
Why are probiotics important in detoxification?
So, why should we include probiotics in our regimen? Well, one of the crucial systems involved in detoxification is the digestive system. Within our bodies reside trillions of microorganisms, outnumbering even the number of cells we have. And while we associate common microorganisms such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, and protozoa as harmful, they also play vital roles in how our bodies function.
A large majority of these microbes reside in our gut, forming what is known as the gut microbiome. And the one we’ll be talking about today is the good bacteria among them, called probiotics. Probiotics have risen in popularity over recent years due to people’s growing interest in health and wellness. These good bacteria can be commonly found in fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt, and dietary supplements.
How they work exactly and what particular strains we should be having is still a topic for research. However, probiotics have been heavily linked with improved gut health and fighting many diseases, including antibiotic-associated diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, and inflammatory bowel disease. Some research pieces suggest that probiotics work by correcting imbalances in our gut and influencing our body’s immune response. In maintaining a healthy digestive system, they can be of use in detoxification. Moreover, gut health influences mental health, and vice-versa, and we call this interaction the gut-brain axis. So, while we detox our bodies of physical impurities, we’re also removing mental toxins when we take probiotics.
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