It's common knowledge that our modern diets are so starkly different from what our ancestors' bodies were used to, and they'll often push your body's limits. After all, the human body wasn't designed to handle such an abundance of food and nutrients, mainly processed foods and sugar.
That's why in recent times, we've been hearing a lot about detoxifying your body, or in other words, cleansing it from the toxins of the modern diet. Have you had a friend or family member tell you why it's necessary to do a body cleanse? If so, we're here to tell you that they're right.
What Is Detox?
Detoxification, or detox for short, is a type of short-term intervention to help your body eliminate certain toxins or wastes to improve your health. The liver is the main focus of detox as it's a key player in your body's metabolic processes.
As previously mentioned, the human body wasn't built to handle our current dietary standards. For thousands of years, people ate whatever they could hunt or forage, and even in old civilizations, the situation was mostly the same, but with some fresh produce and bread.
So it's no surprise that our bodies aren’t the best at handling fast food, processed meat, butter, sugar, candy, and chemicals present in our food, especially when food is abundant nowadays compared to how scarce it was for our ancestors.
Detoxing can take anywhere from a day to a month, or even longer if you need it, and it typically involves fasting, eating certain foods, and drinking certain beverages to give your body the nutrients certain healthy nutrients or stimulate the liver to help it eliminate toxins.
Benefits of Detox
The healthier your diet is, the less your body has to deal with toxins with no nutritional value. As your body gets rid of the unhealthy nutrients and toxins that it doesn't fare too well against, you'll notice an overall health improvement contributing to anti-aging. So let's look at the benefits of detox.
Many of the health benefits of detox can directly help with anti-aging by removing the unnecessary strain that harmful chemicals and toxins put on your body, thus slowing down the aging process.
For example, toxins harm your skin tissues, causing dark spots and dullness, as well as wrinkles and eye bags. But with a proper detox plan, your skin will be able to remove the toxins and more efficiently absorb healthy nutrients from fruits, vegetables, and fibers from nuts.
Even more, the nutrients your skin will get can enhance the skin's protective layer, protecting it from UV light and pollution. But it's not only the skin that detox can help but also your immune system. Antioxidants in particular (commonly found in blueberries, artichokes, and kale, for example) can do wonders for your immune system, which reduces your risk of infection or developing some of the deadliest diseases like cancer.
Another big plus is cardiac health. Toxins can easily pollute or even outright block your blood vessels, including the veins and arteries around the heart. And as time goes and toxins build up in your blood vessels, the risk of getting strokes and heart diseases increases. But with a proper detox, you can flush the toxins from your blood vessels to boost your cardiac health.
These benefits also boost your energy, which helps you look and feel younger and help you stay active and exercise more and better. And as we'll find out soon, exercise can help your body detox as well.
Foods that contain persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and heavy metals may be falling out of fashion. However, they can still be found on most market shelves. And these two toxins are difficult for the body to metabolize and accumulate in your fat tissues and blood for years before they're fully metabolized.
So, cutting out POPs and heavy metals will take the responsibility of metabolizing them off your body, allowing it to tend to other vital processes. As to weight loss, of course, detox can help you lose excess fat. After all, you're abstaining from processed foods, sugar, and other foods with no nutritional value and instead opting for healthy, single-ingredient foods.
Swapping toxins for healthy nutrients makes your body processes flow smoother, so you can also expect less constipation, headaches, and general fatigue.
How to Detox Your Body
People detox their bodies in many different ways, from fasting for a few days to making a few minor tweaks in their regular diet and everything in between.
Manage Your Food and Drinks
The first adjustment to your diet, and the cornerstone of detox in general, is to eliminate processed foods and sugar. If you can't eliminate it, reduce it as much as you can.
Processed food and sugar are the two main sources of toxins in a modern diet and are today considered the reason for many health issues such as obesity, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
Sugar, especially beverages with high sugar content like soda, can cause fat to build up in your liver, which stalls the liver's ability to function correctly and negatively impacts the liver's role in metabolism.
Our advice is to try and eliminate sugar from your life, not just for detox but forever. However, if you can't do that, try to cut it out as much as possible or even replace it with artificial sweeteners or stevia.
As for processed foods, it's mostly temptation that causes people to consume junk food, especially if you have some waiting for you in your fridge. If you don't have the time to prepare meals for yourself, consider looking for healthy ready-to-eat meals or minimal-prep meals.
After you eliminate processed foods and sugar, it's time to focus on what you eat. As you might've guessed when we talked about how detox helps with anti-aging, antioxidants are vital for your detox plan because antioxidants protect you from oxidative stress caused by pollution, smoking, an unhealthy diet, and alcohol.
Quick side-note about alcohol: try to limit your alcohol as much as you can. We know it's hard to resist on a Friday night with friends, but moderation is key. Excessive drinking damages your liver by causing fat buildup, inflammation, and scarring of the liver tissues. It also stalls the liver's function in metabolism. A shot or two per day won't cause a disaster, but no more.
Back to antioxidants – try your best to get your antioxidants from food instead of relying on supplements. Foods rich in antioxidants include berries (blueberries and strawberries), vegetables like kale and artichoke, nuts (especially pecans), cocoa, and dark chocolate. As for herbs, cloves are an antioxidant powerhouse, but cinnamon, rosemary, thyme, and turmeric are also great.
Last but not least, drink lots of water. Not drinking enough is a crucial mistake that many people make, and the worst part is, the less water you drink, the less it'll become a habit, and you might feel less dehydrated even though your body might seriously need water.
Wastes and toxins can linger on in your body and blood until water comes along to flush them out through excretion. The adequate daily water intake is 3.7 liters for men and 2.7 liters for women, or about 15 cups for men and 11 cups for women.
Sleep and Exercise
Sleep is like the water of bodily functions; you can't compromise your sleep and should ensure you're getting adequate rest every day.
Getting adequate sleep is essential to recharge your body, get rid of wastes, and boost your natural ability to detox.
Combine sleep with regular exercise, and you get the recipe to boosting your body's ability to detox, get rid of wastes, enhance bodily processes, and boost your immune system.
Common Detox Myths
Before we wrap up, let's look at a few myths around detox that you might've heard somewhere.
First, some people like to overstate the benefits of detox, saying that it can fix pretty much any problem your body is facing, such as months or years of excessive drinking.
Not to take away from detox, but that's not entirely accurate. Detox is great, but you can't use it as a replacement for a healthy life. You still need to take care of your body regardless of detox.
Second, fats (and sometimes carbs) are so negatively viewed that some people try to cut them out of their lives entirely. But you shouldn't do that because your body needs all three macronutrients in some amounts. Again, it's all about moderation.
Here are some supplements for you:
In short, detox can help your body adjust and enhance specific processes that can help anti-aging. For example, by removing toxins from your body, your skin will be more healthy and be better protected, your immune system will get a boost, and your energy will increase, making you feel and look younger.
The last thing you want to do is complete the process, feel great, and then immediately weigh yourself down with unhealthy things. This is also the perfect time to add some beneficial supplements to your diet to keep the process going. Here, our recommendations: