The Problem With Detox Programs

holistic nutrition plant-based Sep 28, 2022
The problem with most detox programs

The Problem With Detox Programs

See video at the bottom.

There’s something about the idea of a detox that’s appealing: who wouldn’t want to get rid of the bad while keeping the good in their life, whether that’s with our friendships, our mindset, or what we eat? When it comes to your physical health, detoxing refers to the removal of toxins from your body. Before your first (or next) detox, here’s some info you should know so you can achieve the intended goal without doing your body more harm than good.


Why we need to detox

There was a time when people didn’t need to think about detoxing their bodies because there were few to no toxins around: food was grown without pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides, the air was free of fossil fuels, water came from natural sources and didn’t need to be treated, and most products that people used came from things that existed in nature. Nowadays, toxic chemicals are everywhere: 


  • in the foods we eat
  • in the air we breathe
  • in the water we drink
  • in the products we use daily, from shampoo to body lotion 


Because of this, we have to be deliberate about minimizing our exposure to toxins and removing them from our system at least a couple of times a year. 


Your body is built to detox

Our bodies are amazing because they were built to naturally detox and keep things running in the most optimal condition, despite what we put into them and despite what may be going on outside of the body. If you’ve ever heard the term homeostasis, it refers to the body’s ability to maintain ideal conditions inside, despite what’s going on outside, or what junk may be going in. 


Our bodies have several organs that are on detox duty:


  • the liver, which breaks down toxins and sends them to the bloodstream so they can be removed from the body; if you drink alcohol, you probably know that the liver removes alcohol from your blood
  • the kidneys, which work with the liver to get rid of various toxins through the urine
  • the skin, the body’s largest organ, which removes impurities through sweating
  • the gastrointestinal (GI) tract or digestive system, which removes solid wastes from the body (also known as doing a “number 2”)


You might be thinking, since our bodies are built to detox, my diet doesn't matter because my body will take care of it! Sure, to a point, but that would be the wrong way to look at detoxing: your body will absolutely do its best to eliminate any crap that enters but that doesn’t mean you should push your body to its limit by filling it with junk, right? Right! Making your body work overtime, all the time, is a good way to stress your body out and that is not cool.


Many detox programs are toxic!

As mentioned earlier, detoxing is about getting the junk out of your system, but if you read the ingredient list of many of the detox programs on the market, you’ll see things that actually cause toxicity in the body, such as Master Cleanse and Keto. Instead of clearing your body of the crap already inside, you end up adding different crap that you’ll need to detoxify from. The more appealing and sexy that a detox program sounds, the more you should check that ingredient list to make sure you don’t end up doing your body more harm than good!


The fact that many detox programs are toxic doesn’t mean that detoxing is bad, it just means you have to be careful about how you go about it.


How to detox in a healthy way

As you consider detoxing, remember that everything you put into or onto your body has to be processed by the body, and that processing is work—or stress—on the body. If you’re ready to detox your body in a healthy way, think about what you can stop putting into your body, so that it doesn't have to work as hard.


Detoxing isn’t about starvation, so when you eat, choose organic whenever possible, so that you consume fewer toxins. If you can’t afford to eat completely organic, consult the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG’s) Dirty Dozen list for the list of produce items with the most pesticides; these are the fruits and veggies that you should buy organic versions of whenever possible. Eat clean (by choosing whole foods and avoiding processed or packaged foods) as much as possible and get into the habit of reading ingredient lists so you know what you’re consuming. Drink purified water and invest in a water filter if needed (don’t forget to change that filter regularly!). If you’re a smoker, please quit: you cannot be both healthy and a smoker. Also, be mindful and avoid exposing others to second-hand smoke! 


Another way to detox your body is through fasting. Fasting is very much misunderstood, so look for an upcoming blog post on the topic. Do not try fasting without first consulting a medical professional; this goes for the use of supplements too.


If the thought of detoxing sounds overwhelming, start with moderation: consuming less alcohol, refined sugars, and meat (and meat products) will still do your body good.