In case you haven’t noticed, it’s detox season. Everywhere you look there’s another detox being marketed to help you ‘get ready’ for summer. From weight loss to toxin removal the positive results seem plenty but are detoxes something that are truly vital to our health or are they just heavy on our pocketbooks?
I have to admit, It feels a bit strange and vulnerable to be writing this post because I, very early in my career used to sell seasonal detoxes!
I had believed that they were the best thing going when it came to health and wellness and I had to face some hard truths when I realised that the evidence just wasn’t there. Not only did I have no idea what toxins I was actually supposedly ridding the body from or how they did so (go ahead and ask anyone who pedals one to give you those answers and see what they come up with) but they were also potentially causing more harm than good. They weren’t all bad, they were helping people to enjoy real foods, giving my clients ideas and inspirations for recipes and yeah, people were feeling good.
But, do we really need a detox to do that?
Firstly, what is a detox?
Detox diets are usually a short term dietary intervention aimed at ‘eliminating toxins’ from the body.
Sometimes they involve fasting, sometimes they involve strict restrictions of certain foods or just drinking fruit juices and water. Sometimes, they can include herbal supplements, teas or even colon cleanses and enemas. Sound fun?
Detox diet promoters, using fear based marketing tactics have us believe that we are essentially ‘toxic’ and need to cleanse our bodies of all these nasty toxins including pollutants, chemicals, heavy metals and other compounds.
The results include anything from weight loss to alleviating digestive issues, bloating, chronic fatigue and allergies. They are said to decrease inflammation, improve our immune system and help heal autoimmune conditions.
While we all love a ‘quick fix’ unfortunately detox diets don’t provide this for us. And while the results sound fabulous, we really don’t need a detox diet to achieve them.
In fact, there is very little evidence that detoxes actually remove any toxins from our bodies (show me the evidence!) and more importantly, there isn’t even any evidence that our bodies are loaded with these so called toxins that need to be cleansed to begin with.
On top of that, we already have a built in detoxification system. Our own body! Our body is more than capable of cleansing itself through some magic things called the liver, urine, faeces and sweat and while this isn’t nearly as glamorous as that green drink, they are far more effective.
But, you say, I did a detox and I felt amazing! I did your detox Michelle, and felt amazing! Awesome! But, I’m sorry to say it wasn’t likely to be the detox as much as it was the elimination of processed foods, alcohol and other potentially unhealthy substances from your diet. You might also have gotten more vitamins and minerals and drank more water than you were used to, which is great.
Furthermore, any reduction in calories will cause you to lose weight and if our energy levels increase and we become more active, that’s also going to help things along. There should be no surprise there. However, when it comes to any diet that is restrictive, they may be quick, but they certainly do n’t fix and we all know what happens when we go back to our ‘regular’ way of eating.
So, no need to waste your money on expensive detox plans. Save that money for more fresh fruit and veggies or that gym membership you’ve been wanting. Simply take on the principles of nutrition that you already know, eat more whole unprocessed foods and limit your stress (meditate) and focus on getting a good night sleep and let your liver do the rest.
Not nearly as exciting, I know, but it can be and the results will last you a lifetime.