What’s the deal with detoxing? Does it really work? Read on to separate detox nutrition myths from the facts!
We’ve all seen and heard about detox diets, teas, and nutrition trends. Celebrities endorse detox products all the time, and it can be tempting to buy into the miracle results they seem to produce. But, just like all things nutrition, the facts are a bit more complicated than what meets the eye.
Today, I’m breaking down three detox nutrition myths that are popular today. Read on to get the facts about juice cleanses, detox teas, and water fasting for detox!
Myth #1: I can do a juice cleanse to detox my body after eating like crap.
Juice cleanses are one of the most popular experiences related to detox culture. A juice cleanse is a type of detox diet where someone consumes only fruit and vegetable juices without eating solid foods, for a temporary period of days to weeks. Some of the main reasons people go on a juice cleanse are to lose weight, eliminate toxins, reduce inflammation, and detoxify the body.
But how does detoxifying the body actually work? Do we need to eliminate solid foods to do so? The resounding answer is no. Our bodies are extremely efficient at detoxifying themselves. The liver and kidneys are extraordinary organs that remove toxins from our bodies.
How the liver and kidneys detoxify the body
First, the liver prevents toxins from entering the bloodstream. Detoxifying alcohol, waste products, drugs, and other toxins is actually one of the major functions of the liver (1).
The kidneys are constantly filtering our blood. They eliminate toxins when we urinate. The kidneys eliminate drugs and waste products formed in the body (2).
Juice cleanse drinks may contain high amounts of vitamins and minerals, but they unfortunately do not boost they body’s ability to naturally detoxify itself. Furthermore, juice cleanses often lack other important nutrients including fiber, protein, calcium, and healthy fats. In order to keep our bodies functioning optimally, we need to have a balanced diet from all food groups!
Supporting liver and kidney health
The good news is, we can do a lot to protect our liver and kidneys, so they can continue to do their job detoxifying our bodies. We want to keep our blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels in check, because these health issues may contribute to poor liver or kidney function (3). Here are some foods to include in your diet to support your liver and kidneys:
Myth #2: Detox teas can help me lose weight and get rid of toxins and bloat.
Detox teas are a little newer to the scene than juice cleanses, and have several celebrity endorsers. Detox teas are herbal teas that claim to detoxify the body. Many are used in the hopes of producing weight loss, laxative effects, or liver cleansing. They commonly contain ingredients like ginger, dandelion root, milk thistle, and turmeric.
Detox teas differ from juice cleanses because they are used in addition to solid food. You don’t abstain from eating, you just drink several servings of detox tea throughout the day for the effects.
Detox teas may lead to weight loss, but it’s not because your body is detoxifying itself and eliminating toxins causing you to retain weight. Many of these teas contain laxative ingredients like senna and cascara. So, you’re probably not properly absorbing the food you are eating and going to the bathroom a lot more than usual.
Health benefits of tea
Detox teas are not a miracle product that will produce weight loss, better health, and whole body detox. But, I encourage you to include tea in your diet for several health benefits!
Tea (and coffee) support liver and kidney health, because they are both high in antioxidants. Keep your liver and kidneys in tip top shape to ensure your body is detoxifying efficiently.
The antioxidants in tea are also linked reduced incidence of heart attack, as well as lowering bad LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, and raising good HDL cholesterol (4).
Several herbal teas contain anti-inflammatory properties, especially if they contain ingredients like ginger, turmeric, hibiscus, and rooibos.
Myth #3: Water fasting can completely clean out and detox my system.
Water fasting has been around for centuries, but is a relatively new trend in the wellness world. During water fasting, you abstain from eating or drinking anything but water for a period of time. Water fasts usually last five to 40 days. There are water fasting centers you can go to complete a water fast under medical supervision.
Some limited research has shown water fasting can promote weight loss and reduced blood pressure (5). It also may reduce oxidative stress. It may stimulate autophagy, a process by which the body breaks down and recycles old cells. But, prolonged water fasting is an extreme and unnecessary measure that can be dangerous.
Negative effects of water fasting
Water fasting may negatively impact the kidneys (6). Water fasting can cause fainting from a sudden drop in blood pressure. You are also at risk of lean muscle loss, which is the metabolically active tissue in our bodies. It also may cause heartburn, because your stomach continues to produce acid even in the absence of food (7). Prolonged fasting also negatively impacts our metabolism, because our body becomes extremely efficient at holding on to calories.
In lieu of water fasting, make healthy changes to your diet! Include plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins to fuel your cells. Avoid excess processed foods, added sugars, and alcohol, which all provide few nutrients for our bodies to use.
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