Detox, short for detoxification, is often suggested as a way to remove toxins from the body, lose weight, or promote health.
In medical terms, detox refers to the treatment of people with drug or alcohol addictions or a treatment to rid the body of poison. This type of treatment is usually done in a clinic or hospital and may involve the use of medications and other therapies depending on the type and severity of the toxicity.
There is no reason a healthy person should need to “detox” because the body eliminates toxins on its own through the liver, kidneys, skin, lungs, and digestive system. There is no need for supplements or special diets to do this. If the body is unable to remove toxins, they could accumulate and a person would need medical treatment.
In popular culture, the term “detox” (or “cleanse”) often refers to following a special diet, use of supplements, or a specific regimen to rid the body of toxins. They often claim that the removal of toxins will improve health and may promote weight loss.
8 Ways to Detox Your Body
So-called “detox” approaches may include:
- Eating only certain foods
- Drinking only juices or other specific beverages
- Use of herbs and herbal preparations
- Use of dietary supplements or other commercial products
- Colon cleansing
- Colon hydrotherapy (also called “colonic irrigation” or “colonics”)
- Use of a sauna
- Reduction of environmental exposures
What Does Detox Do for Your Body?
There have been only a small number of studies on “detoxification” programs and a 2015 review of existing studies showed there was no compelling research to support the use of “detox” diets for weight management or eliminating toxins from the body. Another review in 2017 review said juicing and some “detox” diets may cause initial weight loss because of low caloric intake but weight gain will recur after a person resumes a normal diet.
That said, there are ways to stay healthy and to support the organs that do detoxify the body naturally.
- Drink plenty of water
- Get adequate sleep
- Exercise regularly
- Consume more:
- Foods with antioxidants
- Vitamin C: Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cantaloupe, cauliflower, grapefruit, leafy greens (turnip, mustard, beet, collards), honeydew, kale, kiwi, lemon, orange, papaya, snow peas, strawberries, sweet potato, tomatoes, and bell peppers
- Vitamin E: Almonds, avocado, leafy greens, peanuts, red peppers, spinach, sunflower seeds, and Swiss chard
- Carotenoids including beta-carotene and lycopene: Apricots, asparagus, beets, broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots, bell peppers, kale, mangos, turnip and collard greens, oranges, peaches, pink grapefruit, pumpkin, winter squash, spinach, sweet potato, tangerines, tomatoes, and watermelon
- Selenium: Brazil nuts, fish, shellfish, beef, poultry, barley, brown rice
- Zinc: Beef, poultry, oysters, shrimp, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, chickpeas, lentils, cashews, fortified cereals
- Phenolic compounds: Quercetin (apples, red wine, onions), catechins (tea, cocoa, berries), resveratrol (red and white wine, grapes, peanuts, berries), coumaric acid (spices, berries), anthocyanins (blueberries, strawberries)
- Foods with prebiotics including fructooligosaccharides, such as inulin and galactooligosaccharides
- Whole grains
- Foods with antioxidants
- Limit or avoid:
- Processed foods
What Are the Disadvantages of Detox?
The disadvantages to detoxing your body involve the types of products you may use that are marketed to people who want to detox themselves. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) found several companies selling detox/cleansing products:
- Contained illegal, potentially harmful ingredients
- Were marketed using false claims they could treat serious diseases
- In the case of medical devices used for colon cleansing, were marketed for unapproved uses
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