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Detoxify the Body: Demystifying Detox and Body Cleansing

Updated on September 6, 2012

How to detox your body / cleanse your body

If you're wondering what benefits a detox can provide for you, allow me to clarify the process.

Detoxification itself is a loose term.  Depending on whom you ask and what you read, the process can involve everything from changing your diet to giving yourself daily enemas. A lot of people cleanse to lose weight.

The general purpose of true detoxification by professional health care standards is to eliminate stored body toxins that may have already caused symptoms such as fatigue and brain fog, or to stop them - and future health issues - in their tracks.

Your daily dose of toxins

We are exposed to thousands of chemicals in the air and in our food, water and consumer goods. Basic biological processessuch as digestion and cellular respiration also produce byproducts that we are genetically hardwired to handle.

A properly funtioning body protects itself by either removing internal and external toxins through our eliminative organs - the lungs, liver, colon, kidneys and skin - or by storing them in tissues where they do the least amount of harm.

When our systems get plugged up, however, the backlog stays in the body, builds up further, and can contribute to short- and long-term problems.

Detox your body
Detox your body

Exploring the Myths of Detox

Detoxification is often more complicated than expected. For starters, people who should not detox without supervision are those who are on multiple medications, who have a chronic ilness, or who are pregnant or brestfeeding.

Even though any effort to minimize toxic exposure and give the body a break from harmful foods and lifestyle practices is good, it takes time to effectively mobilize and eliminate toxins that are stored in the body. So although short-term health food binges are without a doubt beneficial, they can't diminish a routine of taking the body for granted. Some health professionals recommend a detox of 28 days or longer, especially if you're trying to kick a habit.

The Detox Lifestyle

What some people call a detox diet, others would call eating for the long-term. A largely organic, plant-based diet full of vegetable protein, fibre, and colourful protective elements is nutritious and supports inner cleansing.

Cut out anything white and processed - rice, pastas and baked goods - and you're halfway there. Do it for a day, and you're on the right track. Do it for three weeks, and you'll probably feel too good to quit. 

I recommend the alkalizing diet in The Complete Natural Medecine Guide to Breast Cancer by naturopathic doctor Sat Dharam Kaur. According to Dr. Kaur, food choices should be 80 percent alkalizing (most vegetables, herbs, spices, citrus fruits), and 20 percent acid-forming (red meats, sugars, coffee, some grains).

Other therapies such as dry brushing the skin and regular infrared sauna sessions can help relieve the body's toxic load. Pick up a rebounder (such as the one below, or you can often find one second-hand on classified websites such as craigslist.com), then jump on it for 10 to 15 minutes a day for a safe, effective way to support lymphatic drainage.

Feasting versus Fasting detoxes

I am not a proponent of fasting detoxes. When you fast, you can mobilize a lot of toxins, but the body needs specific nutrients to support its detoxification pathways. You may not be getting these nutrients, and if toxins aren't eliminated effectively, they can flood the bloodstream and lodge elsewhere.

Detox side effects

Bearable detox symptoms such as mild headaches, lethargy or muscle aches for a few days are acceptable, but if you feel truly terrible, you should stop. It's either not the correct detox or you're detoxing too quickly.

Without proper preparation and focus, you may find yourself in the unfortunate position of dealing with headaches, skin breakouts and other unpleasant symptoms.

Detox benefits

People on a cleanse gone well, meanwhile, report better sleep, more energy, better clarity and mental focus, improved digestion, and healthier skin, nails and hair.

And one of the best benefits of detoxifying is that you get accustomed to a healthier lifestyle. If you discover that food cravings and other symptoms are gone, why would you ever want to go back to the way it was before?

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