DETOX OR NOT DETOX?
First of all I’d like to say, that you have to practice what you preach whenever you are making a big statement that can influence people’s choices on this or that issue (unless you have done a tremendously massive research and can prove every single one of your points or have tried it yourself and it failed to work (which is still not a proof of a complete failure – it might work magic on other people)); and I am in no way trying to tell you that my say is the only say on this. ‘Fifty per cent of what I know is wrong. The problem is that we do not know which 50% it is’ (Timothy Noaked PHD). But I have a bit of an advantage here: I have done this, I have benefited from this, and I would not recommend it if I did not think it was worth doing.
The only thing I would add is that the results will depend on your health, fitness level, gut bacteria, and many other things (this post would be at least 10 pages long if I started going through everything in detail, so if you are interested in researching it more – please do and let me know what you will discover).
I have done clean eating detox a few times and have run detox programmes with awesome feedback and results, so yes I do what I say and sell what I believe works and helps people to improve their health and wellbeing.
After my very first clean eating detox over 3 years ago my perception of food, exercise etc has changed drastically! It was not easy for the first couple of days, but it showed me how sugar/caffeine/and other food dependent I was). It also opened my eyes on HIIT (High intensity interval training) and weight training.
I genuinely do not think I would be where I am now health and body wise if I did not do that detox. I started educating myself on nutrition, reading a lot and listening to podcasts while experimenting with different styles of eating/cooking/eliminating loads of foods from my diet, trying out different exercise methods etc.
Let me ask you a question: have you ever had a blocked toilet? I’m quite positive most of you have had that unsightly experience at some point of your life.
Next question would be: what did you do when it happened? Did you just leave it as it was and kept using it for your needs making it overflowing more with its contents; or did you ring the plumber and let the guy unblock it?
The same goes for your body. Do you ever feel that sometimes you just want to proper cleanse all your intestines and give your body a fresh start? I do, especially at this time of the year (and I am not a fan of hugely overindulging, because my body’s reaction to ‘bad’ food is bloating and feeling yuk (which is great as it shows that I’m doing all right with eating clean and healthy) )
Many diets have classified themselves as ‘detox’ diets. Such big differences between these ‘detox’ diets have lead to a phenomenon where the word ‘detox’ has practically lost its identity and has been associated with both positive and negative experience based on individual methods used. Whenever thinking of trying out a detox please make yourselves familiar with what is actually included into the detox, and who you are buying it from.
The liver, the kidneys and gastrointestinal tract via the gall bladder are the major detoxification organs. That’s right! We have an innate ability to detox every single day without even thinking the word ‘detox diet’.
So why are we so toxic if our bodies have an innate ability to detoxify some of the toxins we interact with? Our exposure to various chemicals has been growing at an exponential rate and has become ubiquitous in our daily living.
As much as it’s very hard and sometimes impossible to get rid of all the toxins in our body, we can do our best to eliminate the ones that can be eliminated, such as dietary toxins:
- Intake of trans fat,
- High fructose corn syrup,
- Processed foods,
- Refined flours
You don’t have to do a 30-day juice cleanse or some crazy water fast to get the benefits of detoxification. Sitting in a steam room or sauna, yoga, tai chi, eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, avoiding meat one day a week, Epsom salt and therapeutic clay baths, emotional freedom technique, affirmations and acupuncture and acupressure are all excellent ways to gently detoxify your body. But a nutritional cleanse where you limit your food intake does accelerate the process!
So, the conclusion to all this is: though we can naturally detox and our liver, kidneys etc are doing a great job in helping us to do that, giving your digestive system a break and relieving your body of ingesting processed foods, sugar, caffeine, gluten and similar for a few days will do your body only good (juicing, fasting, clean eating detox that includes intermittent fasts (those have numerous benefits!)).
The greatest benefit to a detox or cleanse is its ability to start fresh, and transition to a long-term, healthy way of eating. Within a few days, cravings for salty, fatty, or sweet foods disappear, you begin to appreciate the natural flavors of whole, fresh foods, and you are able to reconnect with normal hunger and fullness cues.
In addition, losing some pounds and inches quickly can create the motivation and confidence to embark on a longer journey (losing weight should not be the goal – the goal is to reeducate yourself, learn more on healthy clean eating as a part of your daily routine).
All of these benefits can make committing to healthy goals (i.e. cooking at home more often, eating breakfast each day or fasting, and bringing your lunch to work) a whole lot easier.
Some of the benefits of a clean eating detox:
- Break for your digestive system
- Acceleration of detoxification of your body
- Elimination of cravings for caffeine/sugar/junk
- Commitment to sticking to healthy lifestyle
- Educating yourself on what is what (i.e., eating fruit is great, but what’s better for you while detoxing: berries or fruit? Banana or apple?)
- Learning about the impact of stress and sleep on your health and wellbeing
- Figuring out what good fats are and why eating grassfed butter, for example, can help you lose pounds!
- Acceleration of fat burning during and after detox
- Learning about Intermittent fasting
- Sleep and skin improvement
- Learning about gut bacteria (are you familiar with this one??)
You have to strip it down and start afresh – it’s not a rocket science. Going back to the blocked toilet scenario: sometimes your toilet is blocked but somehow it would gradually go down, so what would you do: would you wait for it to go down and do another N2 and wait for a few hours for the contents to disappear so that you can use the toilet again, or would you actually do something about it?
There are also side effects to it, which are unavoidable here (but differ from person to person)!
If you are throwing yourself headlong into clean eating, and your normal food intake had a significant amount of processed foods in it, then you need to also brace yourself for the first few days. They won’t necessarily be pleasant. Everyone is different, of course, but for many it’s not a great experience.
But after you get through those few days, the release is amazing. You really don’t crave much of anything. And if you do, it’s a mental craving rather than a physical one. Drink plenty of water to help with flushing out toxins.
It’s can definitely be a yucky process, and if you’ve been through it, you know exactly what I mean. Processed foods are not addictive by accident. They are manufactured that way. They are created to make you want more. There is a lot of science that goes into creating fake foods and being addictive is high up on the priority list simply because it ensures corporate profits. Removing these fake foods from your eating plan is no small undertaking.
So don’t diminish what you are going through if you experience it. And if any medical issue arises during this period, please do seek medical help.
Detox is not a walk in the park! Here are some of the symptoms you might experience:
- Frequent and/or different bowel movements
- Passing gas
- Flu-like symptoms
- General crankiness
On the bright side of it – if you stay strong for the first couple of days, you’ll be amazed how great you will feel after! (well, I did anyway)
So, it’s back to moi!
I am now gluten and dairy free, take my green power mix (spirulina, chlorella, wheat grass, maca, chia seeds etc) daily, eat spinach and kale daily, cook from scratch, eat dark chocolate, lift weights, do CrossFit, Yoga, cardio and have never felt better! (I do have cheat days and I am not a saint but 80%-20% ratio works great for me)
What have I achieved/improved/gained by changing my way of looking at food and fasting (which is also a huge part of a detox)?:
- I stopped getting cold sores (I totally give this one to the daily green power mix intake)! Up until August 2014 I used to get them every 2-3 months and those of you who get them can understand my frustration and my relief. After I started taking my mix daily (with coconut or goats yogurt mainly) I haven’t had one for 6 months now.
- I don’t stay ill for more than a day (touch wood!)
- My body shape totally changed and I now have my own personal six-pack coming through very nicely (need to work a bit more on this one after Christmas! ).
- I am stronger (I’ll give that one to CrossFit)
- I get bloated and feel yuk if I take junk, processed food or gluten (which means my body is free from all that yuk and reacts to it – fab!)
- Intermittent fasting has changed my perception on breakfast and I love it and swear by it!
- I take butter and coconut oil in my coffee to stay trim! (cheers to Bulletproof Diet and Dave Asprey)
Whatever your views are on whether to say yes or no to a detox – I only talk from my personal experience and not just from what I have read or heard from somebody – give it a shot and see for yourself if it works for you or not!
As much as we can always rely on our liver and kidneys to do all the jobs, sometimes this is just not enough.
And what we are missing here is the majority of people do not know what they actually have to eliminate from their diet, how to do that and many other things that they need help with understanding.
So, detox or not detox? Which one is it for you?
Hope you enjoyed the read and looking forward to your comments whether you agree or disagree with the post 🙂
*****If you are interested in the upcoming 7 Day Clean eating Express detox go to 7 DAY POST FESTIVE EXPRESS DETOX :: Natallia’s Fitness
Some of the information used in the post is taken from these sources:
Mélanie DesChâtelets, BSc(h), ND, is a licensed Naturopathic Physician c – (http://www.gaiamtv.com/article/what-are-toxins-and-what-does-detox-really-mean#sthash.QVglPTok.dpuf)
Kirsten Nagy is the co-owner of Prana Energetics, a holistic healing center based in Denver, CO. She is a certified Master Nutrition Therapist and Energy Medicine Practitioner
Cynthia Sass, a registered dietitian with master’s degrees in both nutrition science and public health, Health’s contributing nutrition editor, and privately counselor in New York, Los Angeles