Wild claims. Questionable methods. Frantic sales pitches. That’s what we’ve seen recently on the subject of detoxification.
Let’s cut through the hype and focus on the truth: Safe, sensible detoxification, or “detox,” is a respectable, time-tested wellness technique. The practice of committing to a period of cleansing to rid the body of unhealthy toxins has been around for a long, long time. In my work with patients at the Park Avenue Center for Wellness and coaching clients, I have seen wonderful transformations that started with following a food-based detox. (See my article for signs that a detox could be just what you need to fuel your own transition.)
During a detoxification, foods that typically contribute to health complaints are eliminated, while other nutritious and satisfying foods are added or increased. Fueling it with only the most beneficial foods allows the body to function at its peak, finding its natural balance again while working to cleanse away damaging substances that have built up.
Where do these toxins come from? Often, everyday living exposes us to them when we
- spend time in environments that are polluted or contain allergy-triggering substances,
- eat foods that are processed or otherwise not healthful, and/or
- take pharmaceutical remedies of all sorts.
We pick up toxins in a host of other ways, as well. And while the liver, colon, and kidneys are constantly working to filter out substances that can harm the body, a periodic detox simplifies their jobs, helping these vital organs to stay efficient.
A successful detox does demand careful attention to your safety. Before you begin, please read these important recommendations.
1. Consult your physician first. You need to know you are fit enough to follow a 10-day food-based cleanse. I always suggest a food-based program, not a juice-based or harsher fad cleanse like some programs you’ll see advertised. A safe detox consists of carefully selected, balanced, healthful fuel for your body—not extremes.
2. Find a plan to guide you through the process. The best plans will offer helpful information all along the way, including recipes and shopping lists. (I am delighted to offer some of these. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with “detox” in the subject line for helpful information.) A carefully selected protein drink and supplement are often suggested as part of the recommendations.
3. Understand that you may experience a slight energy dip. Although this type of detox is not a bowel cleanse or a fast, you body will notice the difference in your eating choices, perhaps resulting in some fatigue. This often happens after the second day or so of your detox. The lag you feel should be strictly temporary, but you’ll be wise to alter your activity levels during that adjustment time.
4. Recognize any signs that you need additional help. If at any point you should feel weak, nauseous, starved, or dizzy, you should discontinue the cleanse. Speak with your health professional and ask to have your plan further personalized to see what to change. And, please note, a detox is not designed to be used by depleted, compromised, or weak individuals. It takes energy for the body to detox. If your body isn’t functioning well, this may not be the right time to begin, regardless of how gentle the process can be.
5. Timing is important when contemplating beginning a detox. If you’re planning to go on a vacation, have many social engagements coming up, or are feeling unwell, consider postponing until you have more opportunity to really focus on your eating.
6. Read the information about your cleanse thoroughly before you begin. Like any other commitment, a detox takes planning. You’ll need to shop to ensure having the right foods on hand, as well as remove temptation or forgetfulness by eliminating from your vicinity the foods that might be contributing to your challenges.
Once you have your plans in place, stand ready for a big success. You’re on your way to feeling lighter and more energetic, and you’ll be getting rid of the toxins that may be hindering you from reaching optimal wellness performance. What a gift awaits at the end of your detox journey!