In recent years, detox diets have become increasingly popular. Interestingly this concept is not new; rather, the practice of detoxifying the body and ridding it of unhealthy toxins has been around since the time of Hippocrates.
Today the Internet and marketplace promote a plethora of detox diets that promise to boost energy, increase weight loss, improve skin quality and augment mental function. Unfortunately, many consumers are unaware that not all detox diets are created equal. In fact, some can leave you feeling more depleted. Those that involve extreme low-calorie fasting or solely liquid-based detoxes can deprive the body of important nutrients and actually slow metabolism giving opposite of the intended effect. Other potentially harmful side effects of inappropriately detoxing include: dehydration, dizziness, nausea, fatigue, headaches and colon irritation.
The true purpose of detoxification is to facilitate toxin clearance by supporting the body’s emunctories (liver, intestines, kidneys, skin and lungs) thereby restoring balance and overall health. Although our bodies are innately well equipped to process and eliminate toxins, the amount of pollutants we are exposed to on a daily basis coupled with stress and poor diet prevents us from detoxifying optimally. This eventually leads to a build up of toxins, which can negatively impact organ function and overall health. Our detoxification organs operate most efficiently in a slightly alkaline environment. The majority of people tend to have a more acidic internal environment due to factors such as stress, caffeine, sugar and refined food intake. One can shift the balance toward alkalinity by incorporating more vegetables and fruits in the diet as well as increasing water intake. Some vegetables and fruits that promote alkalinity include avocado, berries, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, chard, kale, lettuce, spinach, spirulina, pears and pineapple.
There are a variety of features that constitute a balanced detox diet. First, a person needs to drink ample amounts of water. Ideally, one should drink half of his or her body weight in fluid ounces of water to stay hydrated. Second, one should substitute processed, refined and sugar rich foods for vegetables, legumes and fruits. These have a high fiber content, which will bind toxins and promote bowel movements—a mainstay of proper detoxification. Third, increasing core body temperature promotes sweating and will also move toxins out of the body. Sitting in a sauna, skin brushing and exercising are all ways to stimulate excretion of toxins via sweat. Lastly, there are a variety of herbs and supplements that can support detoxification pathways in the body. These should be discussed with your physician as herbal-drug interactions exist and can cause more strain on the body if taken without proper knowledge and guidance.
The benefits of completing a detoxification diet are widespread and vary from individual to individual. Most people report clearer complexion, increased circulation, weight loss, rise in energy level, improved mood and concentration, better sleep quality and enhanced digestion. Contact Arizona Natural Medicine for more information on detoxification and to see if it is appropriate for you. We want our patients to look and feel their best!