I’m sure you would have heard the word ‘detox’ thrown around the health and weight loss communities at some point or another. But what exactly is a detox? And why would you do one?
— WARNING: We’re gonna talk about POO. Not in detail, but it’ll be in there —
The purpose of a true detox is to clean out your body of the myriad of toxins that accumulate through stress, food allergies, tobacco, alcohol, pesticides, food additives and preservatives, skin care, pollution, medications, drugs, radiation, bacteria, heavy metals, cleaning products, and many other things our bodies come into contact with every day. Our liver is the hard working organ that is in charge of cleaning out not only these toxins, but products of the body, like hormones and lactic acid, on a daily basis. In fact, every minute, the liver filters 2 litres of your blood to remove these chemicals for detoxification.
Detoxification occurs through many pathways within the liver that require specific nutrients in order to properly function. Many vitamins, amino acids and minerals play an important role in each detoxification pathway. If these nutrients are deficient in your diet, are not adequately absorbed, OR they have been depleted (by factors such as an overload of toxins, a disease state, excess alcohol consumption, smoking) these essential pathways do not function as efficiently as they need to, and toxins will slowly build up and cause harm and dysfunction in the body.
When the liver is overloaded with these toxins, you may experience sensitivities to bright lights or strong smells (perfume, chemicals), headaches, fatigue, acne, indigestion, reflux, steatorrhoea (oily/floating stools), or it may even interrupt the metabolism of cholesterol, blood sugar regulation or regulation of hormones in the body. Nasty stuff really.
A true detox looks after your liver, and ensures not only that the body is provided with a super load of the nutrients it needs to process toxins through juices and broths, but encourages the removal of these toxins by waste excretion through urine and bowel movements. Those “detoxes” you can get at supermarkets, pharmacies, on the TV and internet, including the skinny teas, are essentially just laxatives that cause your body to go into starvation mode and lose weight quickly, but also set you up to put it right back on again. They are also pretty dangerous and aren’t aimed at helping the function of your liver at all.
I’d like to say it now, before I delve in, that if you would like to do a detox, DO NOT just buy a kit from a shop. If you want to do what is best for your body, consult a health professional, such as a nutritionist or naturopath, who has the knowledge, experience and understanding of the function of your individual body to prescribe a detox specific to your needs. I believe it is unethical to give advice on the internet to nameless, faceless people, whose bodies I have no idea about, for a detox plan. This was an incredibly difficult program that I did, under the advisement of a naturopath, and with my own nutritional knowledge, and I just personally feel uncomfortable about giving specific advice, as I feel doing so could be dangerous.
MY DETOX EXPERIENCE
While I had my own personal symptoms of a toxic liver, and reasons for which I would prefer not to share, I also embarked on this detox, so that one day, when I am a nutritionist, and I have a patient who would like to complete a detox, I can give them a genuine understanding with the knowledge that I’ve gained through my course.
I originally aimed to complete 12 days of this detox, but I cut it down to 10 days because I don’t deal well without protein (ie. I get really grumpy!!).
The detox started with a basic diet and worked it’s way down to just juice and broth, then back up again to the original basic diet. I completed 3 1/2 days of juices before I decided to cut my detox down.
Despite the fact that I don’t drink much, I rarely drink coffee or eat sugar, I did experience the expected symptoms of intense headache, fatigue, acne, cold extremities and general hunger. I did not, however, experience the surge of energy I had been told that you normally get during a detox, and the hunger was pretty constant. I did lose weight while on the detox, but I don’t expect that to stay off for very long, as it’s not a sustainable form of weight loss.
My skin felt GORGEOUS from about Day 3 onwards, and still feels incredibly smooth. My acne has improved, but isn’t gone completely (it can take up to 3 weeks for it to properly resolve). I have noticed I don’t want to eat as many carbs, instead I prefer vegetables and now eat fruit regularly now, which I’ve always struggled with, even though I love fruit. I’m not entirely sure why. I also feel better and better about myself every day and just cannot believe what I achieved in those 10 days.
While I am so proud of myself for having a red hot go at this detox, I have learnt that it’s not suited to everyone, and those with mental health fragility might be better served by a long term detox that includes the protein that is needed for neurotransmitter production, rather than this one. However, I can see the benefits of this detox, and I’ve really learnt to appreciate every nutrient and every food that I put into my body just that little bit more. After all, food, in general, is my vice.
Did you follow my detox on Instagram?
Have you completed a detox? What were your reasons? How did you go?
What do you feel about detoxes? Would you ever complete one?