Amongst all the present planning and festive merriment, now is the time many of us are starting to think about goal setting around our health. We’re looking ahead to the new year and contemplating what we’ll try to improve or get done in the upcoming 12 months. And while kicking off 2018 with an on-trend juice cleanse may seem like a smart way to get the health ball rolling for the year, the truth is, this approach to boosting wellness really isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
In todays pop culture crusted world, “cleansing” and “detoxing” have become fashionable terms associated with leading a glamorous and vibrant life; this practice is generally promoted to improve health by ‘cleansing’ the bowel and otherwise removing toxins from the body. Supporters claim the goal of cleansing is to promote healthy intestinal bacteria, boost energy and immunity, and start weight loss. But despite all the hype, in reality, cleanses can be cumbersome, stressful, and (depending on the regime) downright dangerous. For many reasons, they don’t need a place in your health and wellness routine. Before we review some of the shortcomings of this popular practice, let’s talk about what the term detox actually means.
In the true sense of the word:
Detoxification is how our body disposes of dangerous substances, commonly referred to as toxins. We come into contact with toxins from our external environment (they may be found in the foods we eat, the air we breathe, and/or the products we use). Others, our body creates naturally as by products of the plethora of processes that it carries out each day to keep us alive and well.
But we have good news!
Our body has an entirely efficient and dependable detoxification system in place that enables it to flush out any unwanted substances; ultimately, our job is to support it as best we can through consistent health promoting lifestyle habits. And, unfortunately, most popular detoxes and cleanses don’t actually improve our body’s innate ability to dispose of toxins. In addition to this research proven fact, there are many other red flags around the concept of a body “cleanse”:
- The results they produce are temporary. Doing an intentional cleanse for a few days, a week, or (perish the thought) much longer, is not really teaching you new eating habits. Finding an eating plan that works for your unique lifestyle (and sticking to it) is a much more effective weight-loss and wellness-boosting strategy than a short-term detox. Additionally, temporary fixes (like most detoxes… and diet trends, for that matter) do not address the root of the issue (specifically, why it is you feel you need to intentionally cleanse your body in the first place) – rather they provide a temporary solution that provides temporary fulfillment.
- They’re far too restrictive. Most commercial cleanses and detox protocols limit perfectly healthful foods. In many cases, eliminating those foods means you’ll be going without the nutrients your body actually needs to properly detoxify itself. Needless to say, it’s impossible to live a highly restricted and structured diet indefinitely (and quite unhealthy, even in the short term)… and once the detox is over, what next? We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again, for results that last you really need to be eating in a way that is sustainable for you.
- Following a specific regime is bound to make you feel like a lone wolf. Building on the first two points, the tendency for cleanses to isolate individuals is another major concern – no matter what time of year, no one wants to pass-up social events with the ones they love, just because wheatgrass juice (or another miracle drink touted by the cleanse) isn’t on the menu.
- They aren’t cheap. Let’s be real, the fresh pressed juice cleanses taking the world by storm today are far from affordable. Even if you make the juice yourself, the amount of produce you need to make one full meal of juice is astounding, and shockingly wasteful. You could just as easily make several plant-based meals using this produce and stay satisfied for far longer and reap even more benefits (most notably, blood sugar stabilizing fibre).
- Some are downright dangerous. Especially if done regularly or followed for a long period of time. The ones to be most cautious about are any that restrict fluids, cut out entire food groups, or require you to take supplements, herbs, or substances that aren’t well researched.
Just remember, detoxing isn’t something we need to be intentionally implementing through a special protocol – rather it’s a natural body process we can optimize through consistently healthy lifestyle habits. The best thing any of us can do to detox is support our bodies’ innate detoxification system. The goal should be more focused around giving our body what it needs to thrive. We do that by doing what we can to live an overall healthy lifestyle. Here are some of the ways to help your body do what it does best:
Eat More Plant-based Foods and Use Ample Herbs & Spices
Remember, your body’s on your team – there’s no need to coerce it into staying healthy. We encourage you to always keep in mind that the body is designed to cleanse and renew itself every day. As long as your digestive tract, kidneys, and liver function normally, there is no need to take anything to “cleanse” or “detox” your system.
In Summary, cleansing diets are not recommended for preventing disease or maintaining or improving bowel or overall health. Instead, resolve to give the above healthy habits consistent attention to support your body’s built-in cleaning system this year.