What do you think of when you hear the words detox and cleanse? Extreme Diet? Starvation? That really testy person at the office drinking something green? A healthy break from your favorite “bad” foods? The words detox and cleanse hold very different meanings depending on whom you ask. Today, they are typically associated with fads touted by those who are not qualified nutrition professionals, often celebrities. The popular notions tend to go hand in hand with extreme diets (remember The Master Cleanse?), the elimination of whole food groups (most juicing regimes), or significant and unhealthy calorie reduction, which is why most dietitians try to steer their clients away from “detoxing.” This isn’t because detoxification isn’t real—get this, it’s actually one of the processes our body does best! How else would we be able to handle the margaritas, hamburgers, and questionable dietary decisions after a long weekend?! Give a round of applause for your liver and kidneys!
While our bodies are performing detoxification functions on a daily basis, there is a lot we can do to support these processes, such as eating the right foods, proper portion control, hydrating, improving digestion and making better lifestyle choices (being active, practicing stress management). In some cases, aiding our bodies in detoxing can indicate dietary supplements but the theme here is balance, not extremes.
Detox In A Nutshell
This process depends on two main organs: your liver and the kidneys, but it’s really your liver that deserves most of the glory. Without going into too much detail, Phase 1 basically involves a family of enzymes breaking down and releasing toxins from your fat stores and metabolizing them further to water soluble molecules so that, in Phase 2 (also known as the “natural healing phase”) they can be excreted through urine, bile or stool. During detoxification, toxins are roaming in your blood stream, which can manifest as unpleasant symptoms like headaches, bad breath, skin outbreaks (acne, eczema, rashes), mucus buildup and changes in bowel movement or urinating patterns. All very attractive. But they proceed the “cleanse high”- when you actually feel the benefits of a good detox or cleanse program!
Detox vs. Cleanse
Although used interchangeably, they actually mean different things. Detoxification is the process of clearing toxins from the body or neutralizing them, i.e. ridding yourself of the excess “gunk.” Cleansing, on the other hand, involves eliminating culprits like trigger foods, additives and processed foods, while also introducing new and rejuvenating items to your diet, like antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber. As a Registered Dietitian, I encourage my clients to embrace the Detox+, a combination of ridding toxic substances while replenishing with healthy foods. Think of it as a whole-food based cleanse without the pesky hunger pangs or calorie counting that can lead to throwing a green juice at your boss’s head.
So Why Detox+?
Read More →