Should You Detox?

Photo by The Creative Exchange

Photo by The Creative Exchange


Making the best food choices can be challenging. Celebrations, weekend getaways or stressful times call for decadent meals, sugary treats and a drink too many — all of which can leave you feeling lethargic, bloated and foggy. So, you may feel that you need to detox to get back to feeling yourself again.

Various detox regimens involve compensatory actions — doing something to counter what was previously done. Eating less, cutting out sugar, sobriety, and various “cleansing” routines are common behavioral responses to indulgence and excess. But do you really need to fast or do a juice cleanse to get back on track?


Juice Cleanses

One way to possibly clear the sludge is with a juice cleanse. Juice cleanses are purported to enhance one’s quality of life through detoxification which allows for greater clarity and connection to self. The premise for this detox is that a juicing protocol, which can be anywhere from three days to many weeks, allows the digestive system to expend less energy while the body can use that faculty for healing.

Juicing is a potential solution for those experiencing headaches, constipation, fatigue, irritability and more. Resting and detox support such as colon cleansing is often recommended in conjunction with a juicing routine. The addition of colon cleansing helps to facilitate the removal of toxins through the bowels. Otherwise, toxins can build in the system and make you feel worse than before.

What the research says about it

A juice cleanse is sometimes included in alternative healing protocols for people with intense health issues that should be done under the care of a physician. For most people, this is an unnecessary compensatory approach. Juicing has the potential to wreak havoc on your blood sugar levels. You may feel good initially, but over time, you start to be irritable and have cravings. Even though there are many products on the market to support juice cleanses, the National Institute of Health states “there is not sufficient nor convincing evidence for juicing programs to remove toxins from the body or improve health.”

One big issue with juicing is that it lacks beneficial fiber that your body needs. This same fiber stabilizes blood sugar which helps to bring you back to much needed balance. Smoothies are a more satisfying and satiating substitute in lieu of straight fruit and vegetable juice.


Intermittent Fasting

Another compensatory behavior to help facilitate detoxification is intermittent fasting. Fasting from time to time is very common across different cultures and religions.

Fasting is a very natural process that extends beyond our human construct. Think about how other creatures on Earth eat — animals don’t have 24/7 access to food. They may feast and gorge on a kill and not eat for a period of time. That is intermittent fasting, and it is a very natural relationship to have with food.

There are a few different ways to fast. One involves extending your morning fast and not eating for a few hours upon waking. Breakfast is very important but at times it may be beneficial to ease into awakening your digestive system. Another method of fasting is not eating for a whole 24-hour day. A 24-hour fast may feel overwhelming with an already full schedule but it can be achieved (and enjoyed!) with proper planning and adequate hydration. Staying busy provides a helpful distraction to get through a day or morning of fasting. When you do break the fast after a longer fasting time, ease into eating again with simple foods such as raw fruit and vegetables.

What the research says about it

Research reports many benefits of intermittent fasting.  During fasting, your body engages in cellular repair — meaning it can get rid of damaged cells and waste materials. Another benefit to fasting is a reduction in your body’s inflammation. Certain celebration foods are high in refined oils, flour and sugar that cause inflammation in our bodies. Thus, restoring balance to your system can be achieved through intermittent fasting.

There are benefits you can feel from fasting on both a physical and mental level. Fasting can bring clarity of mind and physical agility. Taking a break from eating allows time for reflection and may bring you greater focus on achieving your goals.


3 Simple Ways to Reset

Fasting and a structured detox may not be the right thing for you. But, when you feel you the need for a body and mind reset try incorporating some of the following:

1. Drink hot water with lemon after you wake up. This is a gentle way to detox and refresh in the morning. Hot water stimulates the bowels and lemon is a great cleanser for your liver.  

2. Incorporate more raw plant-based foods. Whole foods have beneficial fiber and hydration that nourishes the body and decreases bloating. Try a simple orange-strawberry smoothie for breakfast instead of your usual routine.

3. Hit the sauna. Do as the Scandinavians do, and sweat it out! The all-encompassing heat from sitting in the sauna is rejuvenating for your body and mind. Sweating it out in a sauna releases toxins and some heavy metals through your skin. 

At times, we all feel the need to detox — from our phones, from relationships and from food. Take the time to rest and rejuvenate yourself with mindful eating, movement and meditation.

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