Back in the day (that’s 15-20 years ago for me), I wasn’t aware of detoxification programs being on the fitness scene with any real significance. I’m sure there were those who worked in fitness circles that crossed into alternative healthcare that emphasized the importance of detoxification programs. But, are such programs really important? Today, detox programs are all over the place claiming everything from clearing your body of toxins, rapid weight loss, and even cures to diseases. That all sounds good, but is it really possible? I mean, can a diet of lemon juice, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper really cleanse your body? I’ll tell you one thing, you’ll certainly lose weight due to near starvation on that one. Let’s take a closer look at what’s going on with all these detox programs and their claims…
First, let’s consider what they’re usually comprised of. Generally, the programs include a few supplements to keep your bowels regular (you gotta get the toxins out) and supposedly help your liver process toxins. These supplements are combined with diet recommendations that share one thing in common usually; you do not eat or drink anything that is toxic. It’s also the norm to eliminate certain “problem foods” such as sugar, alcohol, and caffeine. Well, guess what? It’s pretty certain that regardless of what supplements you take, you’ll lose weight and feel better if you cut the junk out of your diet for a few days. Honestly, that’s about all that can really be proven with most detox programs.
Anecdotal evidence says you’ll feel better after a detox program and you’ll probably lose weight. Whether or not your liver is functioning any better or that you’re eliminating toxins at a higher rate is really unproven. Your body is designed to eliminate waste and toxins without the assistance of special programs. That said, we are inundated today with toxins. Environmental pollutants, chemicals in water and foods, hormones in animal foods, pesticides from plant foods, chemicals in topical skin treatments, and chemicals in cleaning agents are just a few of what we’re exposed to on a daily basis. Some say we’re exposed to over 80,000 toxins on a regular basis; 200 just during our morning routines. Wowza. Considering this, why not error on the side of too healthy and do a detox from time-to-time? I think that’s the right approach based on working with various programs over the years, but here are a few things to look out for:
- Be very wary of any program that drastically cuts calories for more than a couple days or so. Sure you’ll lose weight, but you’re also lowering your metabolism in the process; predisposing you to gain that weight back and then some.
- Don’t rely on a detox program to provide miracle cures. Real, thorough detoxification takes months and months to accomplish, as your cells die-off and are replaced by new, healthier cells.
- The diets associated with some detox programs can be very healthy and precipitate weight loss. Be honest with yourself however, as to whether or not you’re willing to continue most of these healthy dietary habits after your program. If not, you may be better off not creating a yo-yo diet and weight issue.
Overall, I believe there are some very good detoxification programs out there, such as the Standard Process 21-Day Purification & Detoxification Program. I have done everything from this 21-day program that allows you to eat a ton, to a 4-day fast where all I consume is water. Both have been great, but for different reasons. Over the years I have used detox programs in my coaching program with numerous clients and have always seen positive results. I find healthy detoxification programs to be a great way to jump-start weight loss, improve energy levels, improve mood, and break bad dietary habits while establishing a healthier way of eating. Whether you’re on a detox program or just looking to assist your body with detoxing naturally, consider these Top 10 Detox Tips:
- Drink at least 1/2 your body-weight in ounces of pure, filtered water per day
- Eat organic plant foods as much as possible
- Eat wild or grass-fed meats that don’t contain hormones or anti-biotics
- Exercise vigorously each day
- Eliminate skin contact with toxic substances (make-up, skin creams, cleaning agents, clothing, etc.)
- Filter your air where possible
- Enjoy a dry sauna from time-to-time and really sweat!
- Avoid alcohol and sodas – less is more
- Breathe deeply and diaphragmatically
- Don’t smoke