Detoxification, detox, ‘cleansing’, whichever term you chose to use, has risen in popularity in recent years. This rise in popularity can be attributed to the various ads promoting the so-called benefits of detox diets and the seductive appeal of these ads. In simple terms, detoxification refers to sticking to a specific diet or products in order to get rid of toxins in your body, promote weight loss and improve overall health. This form of detoxification mostly involves avoiding harmful ingredients, eating certain foods, fasting and or taking ‘special’ supplements. The question then is this: Does body cleansing and detoxification really work?
Believe it or not, the popularity of detox diets and programmes is growing by the day. This is despite the fact that more research is needed to prove the efficacy of these so-called detox products. Avid supporters of detox diets claim sticking to these diets results in the stimulation of the liver to get rid of toxins from the body, provides your body with healthy nutrients, rest your organs by fasting and promotes weight loss. Sounds very appealing right? Yet, there are not enough evidence to support how these detoxification programmes promote toxin elimination and what ‘toxins’ are actually gotten rid of.
Despite these lingering question marks, there is absolutely no need to fret. The human body has its own naturally sophisticated way of getting rid of toxins from the body. The sophisticated procedure involves the liver, digestive system, kidneys, lungs and skin.
Natural body cleansing and detoxification does indeed help the body to get rid of toxins. These toxins fall into two main categories; toxins that come from outside the body and those that are made in the body during regular metabolism. Those from outside the body are absorbed through the skin and also introduced into our bodies via breathing, eating and drinking.
The main organs involved in the elimination of toxins include:
- The liver – Filters the blood coming from the digestive tract before passing it to the rest of the body. It deactivates toxins by detoxifying chemicals and metabolizing drugs.
- Kidneys – Gets rid of waste from muscle metabolism and urea from the breakdown of protein.
- The intestinal tract – Helps to breakdown nutrients, digests food and helps to eliminate toxins from the body via excrement.
- The skin – It is basically an organ of protection. The skin is the body’s first line of defense against toxins and also helps to eliminate toxins via sweating.
- The lungs – It mainly removes toxins in the form of phlegm and carbonic gas. It is responsible for gas exchange by helping the body to breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide (a waste gas from metabolism).
Body cleansing and detoxification can be done naturally as there is nothing detox diets claim to do that the body can’t do on its own. The truth of the matter, however, is this; the body, for one reason or the other, sometimes struggles to perform its natural detoxification function. There is therefore the need to support the body’s natural detox by adopting certain simple but effective habits.
To effectively optimize your body’s natural detoxification function, follow these simple steps below:
Naturally Cleanse Your Body With Food
In simple terms, you need to watch what you eat. To properly detoxify your body, you need a healthy diet. Avoid foods with high sugar content. Drinks containing fructose such as soda and fruit juices should be consumed in moderation, if complete avoidance is initially difficult to achieve. Sugar is a key contributor to obesity whiles fructose worsens inflammations and oxidative stress.
There is also the need to avoid processed foods. These processed foods contain trans fats and damaged fats which are bad news for your body.
Besides obesity, the high consumption of sugary and processed foods have been linked to chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease. These health conditions cause harm to the organs needed for the body’s natural detoxification process.
Consume More Fruits And Vegetables
Swapping out processed foods in favour of more fruits and vegetables is the way to go. If you are really serious about detoxify your body, cruciferous vegetables and leafy greens should be very high on your list of foods.
Cruciferous veggies are high in fibre which boosts the elimination of toxins through bile and stool. They also boost liver health through anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects.
Fruits like apples (contains fibre pectin, which helps to purge toxins from the bloodstream) and lemons (helps to protect liver function and prevents stress-related damage), should be consumed on a regular basis. Do not also forget to add avocados to your list of foods. Avocado’s fatty acids help to protect against damage caused by d-galactosamine, a powerful and dangerous liver toxin.
Heard of prebiotics? Prebiotics are compounds found in food that promote the growth of beneficial micro-organisms such as bacteria and fungi. With prebiotics, the body’s good bacteria are able to produce enzymes that are beneficial to our health. The body’s gut health is very important for keeping the natural detoxification system functioning properly. Prebiotics promote good gut health.
Great sources of prebiotics include banana, garlic, tomatoes, asparagus, leeks, jicama, oats and onions, just to mention a few. Eating foods rich in prebiotics keep the digestive system healthy, and a healthy digestive system promotes better immune health and proper natural detoxification.
Decrease The Intake Of Salts And Increase The Intake Of Water
Too much salt intake causes your body to retain excess fluids, especially for those with kidney and liver issues. Detoxifying your body allows you to get rid of the body’s excess fluids. Interestingly, increasing your water intake (while reducing your salt intake), helps the body to get rid of excess water weight.
The body releases an anti-diuretic hormone that prevents you from urinating when you consume too much salt without enough water intake. On the other hand, more water intake decreases the release of the anti-diuretic hormone and increase urination. This then helps the detoxification process by getting rid of excess water and waste products.
There is the need to remember that taking enough water is very essential to our health. The body depends on water to function properly and every single cell in the human body requires it. Regular water intake helps the kidneys to flush out toxins from the body. Drinking a big glass of water right after waking up in the morning is a great idea as it kick-starts the process of flushing out toxins from the body.
Alcohol Should Not Be On Your List
Your best bet is to avoid alcohol, if you can’t, then your alcohol consumption should be VERY limited. One thing to note is that, more than 90% of alcohol is metabolized in the liver. The liver helps to metabolize alcohol to acetaldehyde (a known cancer-causing chemical), converting it to acetate (a harmless substance), which is later eliminated from the body.
Low consumption of alcohol has been shown by some studies, to be beneficial for heart health, but excessive drinking is a BIG NO NO. The liver can be severely damaged by excessive drinking. This prevents the liver from functioning properly, resulting in a reduced ability to perform its normal detoxifying function.
Staying active by regularly exercising reduces the risk of life-threatening health conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. People who exercise regularly tend to have fewer toxins in their bodies. Reduction of inflammation is a key benefit, out of the myriad of health benefits associated with exercising.
Reduction of inflammation is good news as it helps the body’s natural detoxification system to function properly. Regularly exercising supports the lymphatic system and boosts the circulation of blood, which in turn reduces tension and enhances digestion.
Sweat It Out
This is one of the benefits of exercising regularly. It only just deserved to be a point on its own due to the massive role it plays in the excretion of toxins from the body via the skin. A high intensity interval training is always a great way to sweat it out.
The infrared sauna has risen in popularity in recent years as an effective means of getting sweaty. Some, in the wellness community, view the infrared sauna as an absolute must-have. It utilizes heaters that emit infrared light waves to heat-up the body. Users of infrared saunas tend to sweat more than they would in a classic sauna.
These infrared saunas come with health benefits too!
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Avoid Exposure To Harmful Toxins In The Air
Exposure to harmful toxins such as asbestos and carbon monoxide is always bad news to the human body. The scary thing is that these harmful toxins can be found in our homes.
We need to avoid exposure to these harmful toxins by ensuring our buildings and homes are properly tested for asbestos. There is also the need to ensure our homes are fitted with carbon monoxide detectors. Carbon monoxide, a potentially fatal chemical, is produced from car engines, grills and furnaces.
Get More Quality Sleep
To support and boost the body’s health and natural detoxification function, there is the need to get adequate quality sleep on a nightly basis. Sleeping promotes the elimination of toxic waste that has built up throughout the day.
Sleep deprivation does more harm than good to the body. It can result in the build up of toxins that have several negative effects on our overall health. Without quality sleep on a regular basis, the body struggles to get the time required to effectively carry out some of its natural detoxification function.
To promote good overall health, aim for 7 to 9 hours sleep per night on a regular basis.
Detox diets have possible side effects such as irritability, fatigue, electrolyte imbalance and nutrient deficiencies. Detox diets can easily be done away with as the body has its own efficient detoxification system.
Enhancing the body’s natural detoxification system is a task you can achieve by following the above steps.
The key here is to stay safe, always stay hydrated, and consult a qualified health professional should you have any health concerns on your quest to natural detoxification.
Has this article missed out any natural detox procedures? Feel free to leave any contributions, questions, comments or suggestions below.