Does detoxing really work?

Detoxing is a term referring to a range of methods, diets and practices intended to rid the body of toxins and impurities. In practice this could mean anything from consuming a restricted diet for a few days to drinking specially blended teas designed to ‘flush’ your body. However, there’s very little evidence to support the claims of most detoxes – but if they don’t work, why is detoxing still so popular?

The allure of the quick fix

The promises that you’ll feel healthier, lose weight, and feel more energised at the end of it all are extremely appealing.

There are products available that claim to remove ‘impurities’ in your body, such as special patches for your feet, crystals to wear around your neck, and even magnets to carry with you. But these claims are not substantiated, nor is there hard evidence. If a solution sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Dramatically reducing your calorie intake or cutting out whole food groups can actually be harmful to your health.  A prolonged restrictive diet can lead to dizziness and fainting, mood swings, lack of energy and nutrient deficiencies.

A grain of truth

While a ‘detox’ might not work in the way it claims, there is logic behind some common detox practices – mostly because these are healthy lifestyle choices.

Avoiding putting harmful substances into your body such as drugs, alcohol and cigarette smoke is always a good idea. Your body can’t do anything useful with those, and too much of a bad thing can make your kidneys and liver work too hard.

Reduce the amount of sugar, caffeine, processed food and unhealthy fats in your diet. Doing this will make room for more nutritious fare to take its place.

Consume plenty of water, fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and good fats. These are nutrient-rich foods that give your body what it needs.

What’s the alternative?

Your body is very good at extracting what it needs from your food, and getting rid of what it doesn’t. However, if your diet isn’t giving you all the right nutrients, your body’s going to have a tough time operating properly. That’s why a poor diet can lead to a weaker immune system.

If you are considering a detox, ask yourself why. Are you looking for a quick fix? Are you fed up of feeling unhealthy and keen to start a new chapter? Instead of picking up a fad or short-term diet, look at your lifestyle and implement changes that you can stick to. Start small.

  • Replace biscuits with fruits and vegetables for a snack.
  • Prepare your food at home to control portion size.
  • Join in with nationwide health initiatives such as dry January and cut back on your alcohol intake.
  • Cut back or give up smoking

A small step in the right direction is much better for you than a giant leap followed by a fall.

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