What Is a Detox?
Detox diets are generally short-term dietary interventions designed to eliminate toxins from the body.
A typical detox diet involves a period of fasting, followed by a strict diet of fruit, vegetables, fruit juices and water. Sometimes a detox also includes herbs, teas, supplements, and colon cleanse or enemas.
Detoxing one’s body is fast becoming a new trend in the world of fitness. While the word is shrouded with multiple ambiguities, those who have incorporated detoxification as an important component in their fitness routine can’t stop talking about its natural health benefits.
So what does detoxification really mean and why is it important? As the name suggests, detoxing aims to help the body rid itself of toxins. The human body has many natural pathways to allow detoxification through liver, sweat, urine, feces and more. But fast urbanization and exposure to pollutants, heavy metals, preservatives, and pesticides have taken the average toxin consumption by human beings to an all-time high. These toxins get stored in tissues and cells of our bodies and manifest in harmful metabolical, reproductive and mental health effects. In serious cases, these toxins can also lead to cancerous consequences. By detoxing your body you help the vital organs cleanse themselves of the toxins, and enable the liver to function appropriately in excreting them.
1. Helps with Weight Loss
It’s easy to see how a detox diet would cause you to lose weight in the short term, but a healthier way to look at it would be to establish long-term eating habits, and rid yourself of unhealthy habits. Many times it is the drastic reduction in calories and rapid weight loss that is focused on, especially in the media. But these short-term results won’t last if you don’t make it a point to replace bad foods with good, and use your newfound energy to exercise more and be more active overall.
There are many reasons to do a detox besides losing weight. But if weight loss is one of your goals, a detox diet can be a great way to jumpstart your progress.
Detoxing can also help with long-term weight management. If you’re at an ideal weight but want to make sure you stay there, try a detox to keep your body on track.
One of the best things about a detox is that it doesn’t just help right now — it sets you up to have healthy habits in the future. So even after you’re done with the detox, you’ll have the habits you need to keep on track for future weight loss or weight maintenance.
2. Rids the Body of Any Excess Waste
The biggest thing that detoxing helps with is allowing the body to rid itself of any excess waste it’s been storing. Most detox programs are designed to stimulate the body to purge itself, helping the liver do its thing as well as the kidneys and colon. Cleansing the colon is an important part of the detoxing process because those toxins need to exit the body, and a backed up colon can cause them to be reintroduced into the body, rather than exiting as planned. Sticking with fruits and vegetables even after the detox program is completed is a good way to keep things moving.
3. Boosts Your Energy
Many detox program followers report feeling more energetic. This would make sense because while you’re detoxing you’re stopping the influx of the things that caused you to need a detox in the first place. By cutting out the sugar, caffeine, trans fat, saturated fat, and replacing them with fresh fruits and vegetables, you’ll be getting a natural energy boost, one that comes without a resultant crash. It’s vital to stay well-hydrated while on any detox program, and that can also be a source of increased energy if you typically don’t get enough water throughout the day.
4. Stronger Immune System
When you detox the body you free up your organs to function the way they should. This helps to give your immune system a boost since you’ll be able to absorb nutrients better, including Vitamin C. Many of the herbs you take while on a detox will help the lymphatic system, which plays a big role in keeping you healthy and firing on all cylinders. Many detox programs also focus on light exercises which help to circulate lymph fluid through the body and helps it to drain, strengthening your immune system in the process.
5. Improved Skin
Your skin is your largest organ, so it only makes sense that it would show positive results from a detox program. One way to help your detoxing efforts is to take a sauna to help the body sweat out additional toxins. You can expect clearer, smoother skin at the end of your detox plan. It’s also been reported that detoxing can help with acne, although the condition may worsen before it gets better as the toxins are released. You may find that your skin itches or gets patchy before clearing up, but this is part of the process and is a sign that you’re on the right track with your program.
You can use all the most elaborate skincare regimes, but if your diet isn’t healthy, you’ll still experience skin problems. A detox is one of the surefire ways to clear up your skin.Some detoxes even include a sauna element, so you’ll be able to literally sweat out some of the toxins that clog your pores. But even if you only use diet, you’ll still see results.
As with your breath, sometimes the issue will get worse during the detox itself, and clear up after the detox is over. So be prepared for a new breakout or skin issue while your body is in the detoxification process.
6. Better Breath
Follow a detox program that includes a colon cleanse because those toxins need to be released from the body. It’s been theorized that one contributor to bad breath is a backed up colon. When you are able to clear it out and get your digestive system functioning well again, you may find that your breath improves. Be aware that your breath may actually worsen during the detoxing process, but when it’s finished it will be better. This is natural, and occurs as toxins are released from the body.
7. Promotes Healthy Changes
It’s hard to change a long-standing habit, and a detox program – no matter how long – is one way to put a wedge between your old ways and your new ones. If you have addictions to sugar, caffeine, fried, or crunchy foods you can use a detox program to help you kill those cravings. Often if you just try to quit eating those foods or drinking those beverages you’ll have limited success, and go back to your old ways. But if you cleanse the body and replace those foods with healthier choices, you can retrain yourself and be more likely to stick to your new habits.
8. Clearer Thinking
A good detox program will pay some attention to your state of mind during the cleanse. The use of meditation is often recommended as a way to get back in touch with your body during this time of purging and cleansing of toxins. Detox followers often say that they lose that sense of fogginess, and are able to think more clearly during a detox than when not on it. It makes sense, since many of the sugar-filled and fat-filled foods that surround us each day will cause us to feel lethargic and can factor heavily in the quality of our thinking.
9. Healthier Hair
By the time you can see your hair, it’s already considered dead, as all of its growth occurs within the hair follicle. This is why it’s important to keep your body functioning at its full potential through a regular detoxing strategy. When your hair is able to grow uninhibited by internal toxins you’ll see and feel the difference in your hair. In many instances hair gets shinier, and feels softer to the touch. Detoxing isn’t enough to stop male pattern baldness, but many report that their hair grows more quickly, a sign of healthier hair.
Shiny, healthy hair is yet another benefit of detoxing. Your follicles need the right nutrients to grow healthy hair. A buildup of toxins prevents those nutrients from getting where they need to be and often results in dry, brittle, broken tresses.
You might also see faster growth, making this a great idea for anyone planning to grow out their hair.
10. Lighter Feeling/Managing stress
One of the reported benefits of detoxing is a feeling of being lighter. There are several reasons why this would be the case, especially if you’ll be doing a colon cleanse as part of the program. When you stop eating foods that weigh you down, and replace them with fresh organic fruits and vegetables, a lighter feeling is bound to occur. It’s also important not to overeat while detoxing, which will yield a lighter feeling as well, and will give you the energy you’ve been missing.
A study published in Clinical Endocrinology found a link between high cortisol levels and fatty liver disease. Cortisol is our main stress hormone released during times of acute and chronic stress. When levels are higher than normal over a long period of time, this can cause a host of problems, including decreased liver function. By focusing on a detox diet high in blood sugar balancing foods, you will hormonally help to regulate cortisol levels, therefore actually working to manage stress on a chemical level.
11. Anti-Aging Benefits
The constant barrage of toxins that the body has to deal with is one contributing factor to the aging process. By reducing the amount of free radical damage done to the body, you’re going to see not only short term benefits, but also long term benefits in an increased longevity. When you finish your detox program, it’s very important not to go right back to the lifestyle that was causing the toxicity. Sticking to a improved diet and getting daily activity are great ways to make sure that you feel good each moment of your life.
Growing older is a beautiful thing, but we don’t always want the outward signs of aging that come with it.
Detoxing helps you slow down the visible signs of aging by reducing toxins that contribute to the skin damage we usually associate with growing older.
12. Improved Sense of Wellbeing
When you detox, you feel good, and when you feel good, good things happen. Detoxing is often used strategically to lose weight or to start a new diet plan, but really there’s no better reason than just to feel better. When you set the stage for wellbeing, you are going to improve all areas of your life, and you should see better relationships, better productivity at work, and a newfound or renewed zest for life.
In conclusion, embarking on whole foods based detox program can have massive health benefits. Increased energy, reduced cravings and lowered stress levels are just some of the many ways you will leave your detox diet feeling better. And remember, the mark of a truly successful detox is that you are set on the path of positive and long-term change.
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