Today we start a multi-article series on detoxing or cleansing: who should do it, how to do it, the rewards and the not-so-fun moments. If you've been wondering if a detox is right for you, we start here with a lot of answers.
For decades, those of us who believed in a detox cleanse were ridiculed and scoffed at. But now a detox diet that results in a thorough body cleanse is almost as hip as Paris Hilton and reality shows (oh, horrors!) Part of the cause of this change is the fact that lots of celebrities – like Gwenyth Paltrow – swear by detox diets for weight loss, and you know how we Americans are about the very notion of losing weight.
But a detox diet does more than just cause weight loss (as though that huge benefit wasn't enough, right?) A body detox also offers a multitude of health benefits so if you're on-the-fence about whether it's right for you, maybe we can help.
What Do You Mean When You Say "Detox"?
Simply put, a detox or cleanse removes poisons or toxins from your body. We are awash in a sea of chemicals that the human body does not know how to handle:
Unless you eat only organic, you're getting pesticides, chemical fertilizers and other nasties in your food …
Meat is loaded with all the chemicals and hormones fed to our animals and birds …
Junk food … well, it's even worse with any of the above because it not only includes artificial ingredients like colors and flavors, but it is loaded with preservatives that are totally unknown to Mother Nature so that it can last on the shelf for the next thousand years …
Then there are the chemicals in the air and water. I recently read the report of one researcher who claimed that 10 minutes on a busy street corner in a major city supplied more chemicals (from car exhaust, for instance) than humans received in an entire lifetime in years past. Whether the actual numbers are correct is really irrelevant because the point is that chemicals are everywhere.
And as for the water you drink … check out your water quality here. Be prepared to faint, though.
Our lifestyle has changed much so much more quickly than our biology. Under this chemical onslaught, our body doesn't know what to do with all these toxins. So, doing the best it can, it stores this stuff in our organs, cells and blood streams. And our colon … which is a major source of disease according to many researchers.
How Can I Detox?
The human body naturally cleans out the body. For instance, when we urinate or defecate we remove poisons. Sweating, too, eliminates toxins. The problem comes when the sheer volume of poisons overwhelms our ability to clean. When that occurs (as has happened to most of us) we can follow a detox diet plan or a juice cleanse.
Or, bathing in epsom or sea salts can remove toxins and foot pads that promote detoing are quite popular now. Massage reportedly helps to remove toxins (I wouldn't know because I've never had a massage – poor me ;-).
Diets, whether of juice or food, work two ways:
First, during the diet you are adding no more poisons to your stressed body.
Secondly, this gives your body some 'rest' so that it can concentrate totally upon removing everything alien from your body.
If you add bathing, massages and sweating to your program, you will detox even faster.
How Do I Know If I Should Do A Body Detox?
Many nutritionists emphatically believe that we should ALL periodically detox a couple of times each year, at the very least. But here are some definite signs that a detox might be appropriate:
You can't lose weight. In this case, detox diets for weight loss might be your healthiest and quickest answer.
You've made a commitment to physical fitness and want to dramatically improve your body.
You're frequently sick and/or can't quite seem to get completely well.
Fatigue, fatigue and more fatigue is your MO.
Is There A Downside To A Detox Cleanse?
I've done several detox cleanses and the first few days aren't fun. If you're dieting, you may get hungry. We will talk much more about the 'how to' and what to expect in this series, but you need to be prepared for some discomfort.
More importantly, your body will be dumping chemicals that you're used to and you can be almost 100% certain that you won't feel great. You may have headaches and insomnia, for instance, and you shouldn't plan on any strenuous activity during this time. In other words, don't start a cleanse just before your ski vacation or before your hike through the Amazon!
The Great News …
You will feel MARVELOUS in a few days! Your skin will glow, your hair will shine, your health will improve in every possible way and you will feel a new self-confidence and well being that you might not have felt in years (or even decades).
A body cleanse will do wonders for your health and your life, but don't jump up and start now. We will be teaching all about the 'how to' in future articles so that you can make a careful and informed decision about a body detox. It's a mythic journey worthy or a hero or heroine.