If you actively follow health enthusiasts on social media, you’ve likely heard of the word “detox.” Detoxification has become a major topic in mainstream health, and popular methods that social media influencers endorse include special teas, juice cleanses, and detoxification plans. The idea of a cleansed body and the ability to start afresh sounds appealing, especially when many of these plans also promise enhanced energy levels and weight loss. But what about our bodies’ preexisting detoxification system? Let’s evaluate the evidence to decide whether it’s a good idea to detox.
Special detox teas are generally laxatives, which irritate your bowel rather than allow your digestive system to run smoothly and eliminate toxins. Taking laxatives regularly over a longer period of time can deplete bodily fluids and result in severe dehydration.
Juice cleanses have also made their way to the grocery stores, with their vibrantly colored liquids presented in slim glass jars. Granted, a juice cleanse encourages the consumption of fruits and vegetables, which are often overlooked in the typical American diet. They also provide an opportunity to practice self-control and abstain from processed junk foods.
On the other hand, juices are very low in protein and fat unless some nut milk is added into the juice blend. Protein and fat are essential macromolecules that your body needs in order to function properly, and fats are also necessary for proper absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins that may be in the juice itself. Also, a dearth of protein and fat consumption over several days increases the likelihood of perpetual hunger and increased cravings. Your body may begin to use glycogen as a source of energy, which often results in side effects like dizziness, fatigue, and irritability. Many juices also lack fiber, resulting in your body processing the juice much too quickly, spiking blood sugar levels and throwing off energy levels. The restriction of calories through a juice cleanse also negatively influences your metabolism, as your body will think that it is being starved, which may in turn increase fat storage.
Detoxification systems and plans commonly enforce strict regulations and are highly restrictive. While they may be great for helping someone jump start a weight loss regimen or lifestyle change that involves eating cleanly, they are typically unsustainable in the long run and do not incorporate a sufficient amount of protein and calories.
Your body’s detoxification system
Your body has its own, in-built detoxification system involving organs such as the kidneys, liver, and intestines. The kidneys are responsible for eliminating toxins from the blood through urine and for maintaining proper fluid levels. According to Stanford Children’s Health, the liver clears “the blood of drugs and other harmful substances” in addition to producing bile, “which helps carry away waste and break down fats in the small intestine during digestion.” The bile that is produced is then sent to the large intestines, which are essential for the excretion and elimination of wastes.