Detoxification. It’s a term that’s been tossed around a lot over the last decade or so. While there are hundreds of different detoxes out there, they all have the same endgame: to rid the body of harmful toxins. But the sheer volume of information available can be overwhelming for those who are new to the practice. Here, we break it all down for you – what it is, what it does, and how you can get started.
What Is A Detox?
Broadly speaking, detoxing refers to the process of removing harmful substances from the body. There are numerous different types of detoxes; some involve pills or supplements, others allow you to only consume liquids, and still others simply eliminate certain foods from the diet for a specified period of time.
But not all detoxes are created equal, and some may be healthier for your body than others.
Experts generally agree that starvation detoxes – such as drinking only a concoction of lemon juice, water, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper, as well as a laxative tea for 10 days – do little more than lead to unpleasant and unhealthy side effects. Crash diets are equally suspect, and can upset the body’s blood sugar, potassium, and sodium levels.
And while there is little evidence that these extreme measures help rid the body of built-up toxins, there is a gentler alternative that doesn’t rely on pills, supplements, or liquid-only meals: a clean eating detox. It emphasizes eating whole foods that support your body through the detoxification process and help the systems function properly for optimal health.
How Your Body Gets Polluted...
If you feel like you eat ‘clean’ on a regular basis, you may be thinking, what do I need to detox? But it isn’t just the food we eat that contributes to the pollution in our bodies – it’s also the toxins found in our beauty products, cleaning supplies, furniture, and many other everyday items. Even the pollution in the atmosphere can send toxins into our bodies.
The U.S. allows more than 84,000 different chemicals to be used in household products, cosmetics, food, and food packaging – and despite being registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), most of them have never been tested for safety. Researchers from California-based Campaign for Safe Cosmetics found that the average person is exposed to 126 toxic chemicals every day from personal care products alone. For women, the number rises to 168.
Studies have found that two chemicals commonly used in household goods are particularly bad, consistently producing mammary tumors in animal tests. Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) can be found in non-stick pans and stain-resistant rugs, furniture, and clothes, while styrene is used for plastic goods, styrofoam takeout containers, and adhesives. And despite the National Research Council’s 2014 decision to list styrene as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen,” these items are still readily available and used every day.
Of course, the food and drinks we consume are major sources of contamination for the body, too. A report by the Environmental Working Group found that nearly 70 percent of conventionally grown (non-organic) produce samples were contaminated with pesticide residues. Strawberries consistently top the ‘dirty dozen’ list, and the 2018 report shows 20 different pesticides on a single berry.
Even tap water isn’t immune. Research from Harvard found that the water in 33 states had PFCs (perfluorochemicals), which have been linked to cancer, hormone disruption, thyroid disease, and weakened immune systems. Other studies have found fluorine, chlorine, lead, mercury, and the insecticide DDT. Bathing in this water allows the body’s largest organ, our skin, to absorb the harmful chemicals. Constipation, stress, a lack of exercise, the heavy use of medications, and various other factors can influence how effectively our bodies carry out their natural detoxification process.
So even when we practice clean eating regularly, it’s not difficult to see how the body can get bogged down with toxins that aren’t being eliminated quite as efficiently as they should be. And while not everyone requires an intensive detox, a semi-annual ‘tune-up’ can be helpful to keep the body functioning at its best.
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Signs You May NEED To Detox...
Luckily, our bodies are incredibly smart. They recognize that these toxins aren’t good for them, and they send us signals to let us know.
While symptoms can vary between individuals, here are some common signs that your body might be in need of a detox:
- Weight gain
- Muscle aches and joint pain
- Bad breath
- Gas and bloating
- Skin reactions
- Difficulty concentrating
- Trouble sleeping
Since these symptoms are so common (and often covered up with temporary solutions like medication), many people don’t even realize that they are showing signs of chronic toxicity. But the effects of toxic chemicals in our bodies aren’t just limited to symptoms. Left to fester, they can also manifest as disease.
Numerous studies around the world have LINKED pesticides and other toxic environmental agents to an increased rate of chronic disease, including:
- Various forms of cancer
- Neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinsons, Alzheimers, and ALS
- Birth defects
- Reproductive disorders
- Hormone issues
- Respiratory problems
- Chronic fatigue
It’s no secret that our bodies must be working well for us to remain healthy. If we’re experiencing symptoms of dis-ease, it’s likely that we have some toxicity that needs to be removed.
7 Benefits of Detoxing Your Body...
When we allow our bodies to focus on the detoxification process, we’re rewarded with numerous health benefits.
1. Increase your immunity:
An overloaded immune system can’t function at its peak. By detoxing to remove some of the built-up toxins in the body, you’re enabling your immune system to better ward off the new toxins that enter on a daily basis.
2. Help shed stagnant weight:
Toxins affect the body’s ability to burn fat and are linked to diseases that can cause weight gain, including diabetes and high blood pressure. Detoxing is one way to help ‘reset’ your body – and your metabolism. After a week of fueling your body with clean foods, you might also find that your cravings for addictive (and fattening) sugar and carbs are drastically reduced.
3. Improve mental clarity:
One of the key signs of toxicity in the body is the feeling of a foggy head. Detoxing gives the body an opportunity to re-align itself, which also helps clear the mind and boost our mental and emotional state.
4. Promote glowing skin:
Detoxes help free your body of harmful free radicals and heavy metals that are linked to premature aging. Removing toxins also helps reduce acne and breakouts and strengthens hair and nails.
5. Boost energy levels:
Since detoxing helps the body reset, people tend to find that they have more mental, emotional, and physical energy post-detox. Sleep is often greatly improved, too.
6. Balance hormones:
Detoxes support the body’s organs of elimination – like the liver – so that they can excrete excess hormones and bring the system back into balance.
7. Promote healthy habits:
While highly restrictive detoxes aren’t sustainable, real food detoxes are. A week of cooking with whole foods at home can help form habits that you can carry-over once the detox is over.
How Can You Start?
The Physique Forty+ detox program makes it easy to start the detox process. There are no pills, no supplements, and no questionable tasting liquids to ingest – it’s all about eating nutritious meals made of real food.
One of the unique features of the detox is that it lasts just seven days. And since you’ll be eating real foods, you won’t feel depleted or lacking in energy. Just the opposite, actually! Since the meal plans are rooted in mainly alkaline foods, your body will benefit from improved digestion, a boost in energy, and more restful sleeps.
Detoxing isn’t just a fad – it’s a way to help your body reset itself so that it can function at its highest capacity. Dr. Rose Kumar, author of Becoming Real: Harnessing the Power of Menopause for Health and Success, compares the body to a car engine, which can’t run well with dirt (toxins) in it because the parts can’t make contact with each other. Just like in that engine, toxins running through the body prevent its four major systems – endocrine/hormonal, immune, liver, and gut – from collaborating and communicating properly.
Isn’t it time to clean out the dirt that’s PREVENTING your body from reaching its peak performance?
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