Detoxification has been in existence for ages and keeps growing in popularity due to its alleged association with a myriad of health benefits. It involves resting, cleansing and nourishing the body from the inside out by removing and eliminating toxins, followed by strictly feeding your body with healthy nutrients that usually include fruit, vegetables, fruit juices, and water. Occasionally a detox may also include herbs, teas, supplements, and colon cleansers (Gaiam.com).
As you go about your day-to-day activities, you may unknowingly be exposed to harsh pollutants and toxins that can find their way into your body. This can cause a harmful buildup that may lead to physical and mental health issues like chronic fatigue, headaches, insomnia and other diseases. For these reasons, a detox or cleanse may be therapeutic.
The Body's Inherent Detoxification
It is important to note that the human body has existing pathways and mechanisms designed to detoxify itself. The liver, kidneys, colon, lungs, skin and lymphatic system all play an important role when it comes to cleansing the body. For instance, the body self-cleanses through the liver, feces, urine, and sweat. Your liver makes toxic substances (such as alcohol) harmless and ensures that they are eliminated from your body. Though some people may report some positive feedback, such as feeling rejuvenated and energetic after following a detox procedure, it is possible that they had indulged in an unhealthy lifestyle that included alcohol consumption, highly processed foods, and physical inactivity. They feel better after the "detox" because they stopped consuming unhealthy food, which would have happened if they improved their diet and exercise habits independently of any detox protocol (Hindawi).
A Detox Protocol at a Glance
Below is a general detox protocol.
- A detailed environmental history and exposure inventory followed by patient education to promote adequate avoidance.
- Specific toxicological testing, if indicated, according to the patient history.
- Treatment of abnormal biochemistry as identified by laboratory investigations.
- A combination of optimal diet and supplemental nutrients may be utilized to secure adequate nutrition and sufficient biochemical reserve for detoxification.
- Having adequate sulphur-containing foods such as eggs, brassicas, alliums and supplements like folate and related nutrients aimed at arsenic metabolism and excretion.
- Lipoic acid therapy may assist in detoxification of some compounds including mycotoxins resulting from exposure to certain molds.
- Adequate minerals such as calcium, iron and zinc to reduce the absorption of heavy metals.
- Fiber to reduce absorption and facilitate toxin elimination.
- Regular sweating (with mineral repletion), with exercise or in a sauna, can facilitate transdermal excretion.
- Exercising daily to enhance the elimination of some toxicants.
- Carrying out laboratory investigations, prescribing and implementing therapies for retained toxicants (Hindawi.com).
Should I Do a Detox?
Should you pay for a detox program? Before jumping on that train, you should know that a comprehensive review of studies on detox protocols was carried out to ascertain the credibility and effectiveness of detox regimens (Online Library). It showed very little supportive evidence that detox procedures actually lower toxin levels or help with weight management in human subjects.
Maintaining a healthy, balanced diet and a regular exercise program will help your body rid itself of toxins, impurities, and keep it in tip-top shape (Health-Cleveland Clinic). No detox protocol can make up for poor dietary and activity habits because no detox protocol (besides a healthy, balanced diet and regular exercise) can last forever.