Why Detoxes Don’t Always Work

Dietary Trends, Expert Advice, Food, Nutrition

By: Chris Freytag, CPT // December 27, 2017

Many of us reach a point in our lives where we try to make a commitment to eat better, exercise more or maybe even join a gym or workout community. These are all fabulous decisions. Unfortunately, often when we start our health journey, we begin to hear about the whole “detox” craze… things like weekend cleanses, three-day fasts, total body flushes and miserable concoctions involving lemon juice and cayenne pepper. These, my friends, are programs that are completely unrealistic and simply don’t work.

However—that doesn’t mean I don’t believe in detoxes. But the problem is the concept has become bastardized with companies selling cleanses that promise a six pack using pills and potions, or lasting weight loss due to an assortment of products that cause nausea or more frequent trips to the bathroom.

By definition, the word detox is a measure taken to save someone from substance abuse or exposure to severe toxins like lead poisoning. Eating all of that French silk pie that was left in your fridge by Aunt Sally doesn’t apply. For most of us, the holidays are a time of overindulgence; drink, be merry and eat everything you can get your hands on, am I right? But then on January 1st, people magic pill or potion, something that will cleanse us of all our “nutritional sins.” Many people think that the liver, kidney and colon act as lint traps for potential toxins and that you can clean them out by fasting or drinking concoctions, but that is not entirely true. The liver, kidney and colon do function as elimination organs and if functioning properly, don’t need to be “cleaned out” to rid the body of toxins and waste. They should always be doing this job.

Katherine Zeratsky, R.D. registered dietitian at Mayo Clinic agrees, “There’s little evidence that detox diets actually remove toxins from the body. Indeed, the kidneys and liver effectively filter and eliminate most ingested toxins. The benefits from a detox diet may actually come from avoiding highly processed foods that have solid fats and added sugar.”

Therefore, I am a fan of detoxes that promote eating real food and eliminating all processed foods.  Rather than complete calorie restriction, there are healthy ways to help your body’s natural detoxification processes.

Related: How To Read Nutrition Labels On Your Food

The Power of Fruits and Veggies

You see, extreme measures are not necessary for you to bring your body into balance. There are many REAL FOODS that naturally detox and cleanse our systems, helping us achieve good health, gain energy and feel amazing! Most American diets include about five percent fresh fruits and veggies with the majority of our food intake coming from processed foods, animal products and grains. Let’s get this straight; this blog is not about becoming a vegan. I personally consume poultry, fish, some dairy and grains. BUT I want to tell you that fruits and veggies may be all you need to restart your health! Fruits and veggies are FULL of the micro-nutrients that our bodies need to detoxify naturally. It’s the easiest way to achieve good health. If you feel low energy, achy, ornery or overweight and lethargic, try a produce rich diet and see what happens. Seriously, it’s a lot easier than following weird detox programs, drinking odd potions or starving. It’s also easier than making a doctor’s appointment and then experimenting with pharmaceuticals to help you feel better.

Don't waste your money on overpriced detox programs and learn how to help your body detox naturally; it's simpler than you think!

According to the CDC, fruits and vegetables…

  • may reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases
  • provide essential vitamins and minerals, fiber and other substances that are important for good health
  • are naturally low in fat and calories and are filling

What have you got to lose? Just try fruits and veggies and see what happens! Whether you eat them whole, juice them, put them in a smoothie or a stir fry, your body will probably feel better.

Instead of falling into the detox trap this year, fall into healthy eating habits including lots of fruits and veggies. Here are some natural detoxifying foods (this list just scratches the surface of amazing fruits and veggies):

Cucumber: Almost all water (95%), it helps flush out toxins and alkalize the body.
Lemons: Also a great alkalizer for the body, and anti-bacterial, anti-viral and a digestive aid.
Beets: Contains a group of phytonutrients called betalains that support detoxification of the liver.
Broccoli: Chock-full of vitamins while neutralizing and eliminating toxins from the body.
Garlic: Stimulates the liver to encourage production of detoxification enzymes.
Asparagus: A heart healthy and anti-inflammatory veggie that helps with liver drainage to get rid of toxins.
Kale: Filled with fiber and sulfur that help keeps your liver healthy and running smoothly.
Oranges: High in antioxidants, particularly vitamin C. Aids in the production of glutathione, a compound that is essential for detoxification in the liver.
Parsley: Thanks to the presence of apiol and myristicin, parsley is a natural diuretic that reduces water retention and bloating and cleanses the kidneys of bacteria and germs.
Artichokes: Chock-full of cynarin, which increases bile production and promotes healthy digestion.

Ready To Ditch The Detox?

It’s officially time to banish “detox programs” from your new year routine. Set time aside in your day to fit in fitness and aim to eat as many fruits and veggies as you can. Try increasing your fruits and veggie intake and let us know if you feel any different. No, you probably won’t lose 10 pounds in a week like the starvation or detox diets sold in a box (which all comes back the next week, by the way), but you will create new habits that change your life and probably lose weight over time. This easy reminder may be just what you need to start your year off right!

READ THIS NEXT: Eating Healthy Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated

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