IT’S SPRING!Should I do a Detox?
Why is detoxing so important?
We live in an unmistakably toxic world. Most of us know about the toxins in our food, water, and air. But our homes are a largely hidden source of toxins — and most of us are spending a lot more time at home these days! Did you know, for instance, that the EPA has determined the air inside the average home is 2-5 times more polluted than the air right outside its walls?
Where are these toxins coming from? All over: the petrochemicals in your wall-to-wall carpet, the paint on your walls, the cleaning products under your sink, the non-stick cookware in your kitchen, the particle board in your bookcase, the flea collar on your cat. They’re nearly impossible to avoid.
This is why so many people choose to fast, cleanse, or detox in the spring. While helping your body clear out toxins can be a good thing, it’s important to do it right. That’s because harsh cleanses and detoxes can do more harm than good.
What is a Fast, What is a Cleanse, and What is a Detox?
While the words “fast,” “cleanse,” and “detox” are often used interchangeably, they don’t mean exactly the same thing.
• A fast involves going without food entirely for at least twelve hours. People undertake fasts for health reasons or to prepare for a medical procedure, but many also fast as a religious or spiritual experience. (Confusingly, “juice fasts” do not technically count as fasting, because while you don’t eat food during a juice fast, you do get nutrition in the form of juice.)
• A cleanse focuses on cleaning out your system via the digestive tract. Typically, food is restricted during a cleanse, and sometimes forgone altogether. Oftentimes, people take laxatives and diuretics during a cleanse to facilitate the elimination of waste products.
• A detox attempts to support your body’s natural detoxification system, using supplements that are thought to stimulate detoxing organs such as the liver and kidneys. A detox can be combined with a cleanse or a fast.
The Risks of Harsh Cleanses and Detoxes
The idea of cleansing or detoxing isn’t new. People have been trying to rid their bodies of impurities for millennia, whether by perspiration in Native American sweat lodges, bloodletting in ancient Egypt or medieval Europe, or fasting in many cultures.,
While some studies have found cleanses and detox diets help with weight loss, blood pressure, and insulin resistance, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has determined these studies were small or poorly designed. The NIH points to two larger reviews that found no benefit either in lasting weight loss or detoxification. Some researchers even consider excessive cleansing and detoxing to be akin to eating disorders such as purging.
And there are risks.
The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has taken action against companies selling cleanse/detox products that contain potentially harmful or contaminated ingredients.
In addition, even good stuff can be bad in excess. For example, drinking large quantities of spinach or beet juice — recommended by many juice fasts — can result in dangerous levels of oxalate. A naturally-occurring compound in some vegetables, oxalate (also known as oxalic acid) is harmless in quantities you get through everyday eating. But, as they say, the dose makes the poison — and too much oxalate is bad for your kidneys. That’s ironic, considering your kidneys are your second-most important organ of detoxification! (Your liver is #1.)
Harsh cleanses and detoxes also pose risks to your gut in three areas:
1 Your core gut architecture
- Your gut lining is crucial to your overall health. As part of your gut barrier, it keeps what belongs inside your gut in and what belongs outside out. It’s also through your gut lining that your body absorbs nutrition from the foods you eat.
2 Your resident gut bacteria.
- If you induce diarrhea, a lot of your gut bacteria may be swept out of your system, the good along with the bad., And there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to get the right mix back, at least not quickly. (It’s like when you move and you have to make all new friends.) One study found volunteers who’d undergone bowel cleansing prior to colonoscopy experienced “an instant and substantial change” in their gut bacteria. It took weeks to restore the delicate balance.
3 Risks to Gut Function.
- Doing a cleanse with strong laxatives can be uncomfortable to say the least. You’ll end up camped out in the bathroom, and you may suffer from cramps, diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting. (This does not sound like fun.) And of course, while all this is going on, you won’t be absorbing as many nutrients from your food — either because you’re not eating much or because what you’re eating is moving too quickly through your system. A final detriment: you may end up dehydrated from all that expelling, and your kidneys need water to perform their normal, everyday detoxification activities.,
How to Cleanse, Detox, or Fast Gently
If by now you’re ready to head for the hills if anyone even says the words “cleanse,” or “detox,” we don’t blame you. But it is possible to do a gentle reset of your digestive system. The key is moderation.
Here’s how to cleanse gently:
• Eat more fiber-rich foods (such as whole grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables) to add bulk to your stool, encouraging more frequent bowel movements.
• Increase your fluid intake to ten cups of water or warm green tea to help your kidneys do their job.
• Avoid alcohol and sugar for a week. Your gut doesn’t like either (with the possible exception of red wine), so give them a rest.
That’s it! Instead of a shock to your digestive system, it’s more like a pampering spa treatment. You might need to empty your bladder a little more often, but there shouldn’t be any discomfort or urgent dashes for the bathroom.
Considerations for Your Gentle Cleanse, Detox, or Fast
- • If you’re interested in adding detoxifying herbs to this regimen, consider milk thistle. This herb has been shown to give your liver a helping hand by activating both phase I and phase II detoxification enzymes.,
- • While you’re cleansing or detoxing, make sure you’re getting enough protein. It’s important because amino acids (the building blocks of protein) bind to toxins and help escort them from the body. Methionine is an especially important amino acid for this purpose. Chow down on brown rice, Brazil nuts, chickpeas, lentils, pinto beans, poultry, sesame seeds, or soy to get your fill of methionine.
- • If you are going too fast for any reason, keep it short. A day is plenty, especially if you’ve never fasted before. And be sure to stay hydrated. You normally get 20-30 percent of the water you consume from food, so if you’re not eating, you’ll need to drink more.
- • Whether you’re cleansing, detoxing, or fasting, Previlli™ can help protect your gut while you’re doing it.* Previlli’s comprehensive formula encourages the growth of beneficial bacteria and strengthens your core gut architecture so the good guys can thrive in the wonderful home you’ve built.*
- After you’ve completed your cleanse, detox, or fast, keep showing your gut love! Resume healthy eating, make sure you’re getting plenty of fiber, eat fermented foods to repopulate your gut bacteria, and keep taking your Previlli™.
- Our world is full of toxins, and one of the prime sources is our homes. The average home is 2-5 times more polluted than the air right outside its walls.
- Many people choose to fast, cleanse, or detox in the spring to help the body clear out toxins.
- It’s important to do it right, though, because harsh cleanses and detoxes can do more harm than good.
- Fasts, cleanses, and detoxes are related but not identical. A fast requires going without food for a prescribed period of time. A cleanse involves cleaning out the gut, often with laxatives. A detox aims to remove toxins from the body, often with herbs.
- Risks of extreme cleanses and detoxes include kidney damage or damage to core gut architecture (such as bowel perforation, irritation of the gut lining, reduced villi length and mucin thickness). You may also experience uncomfortable symptoms such as cramps, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. Finally, you may unintentionally flush a significant portion of your beneficial gut bacteria out of your system.
- A gentle cleanse is a better alternative. It can be as simple and easy as eating more fiber, drinking more water, avoiding alcohol and sugar, and taking your Previlli™. Try adding milk thistle for extra detoxification support, and make sure you’re getting enough protein.
- If you fast, keep it short (no longer than a day) and stay hydrated.
- When you’re finished with your gentle cleanse, detox, or fast, go back to eating a sensible diet and keep taking your Previlli™.