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Written by The Nutrition Twins
As a present for our last birthday, a friend of ours treated us to a visit to a spa. We arrived at the spa excited and eager for a girl’s day of pampering. Soon we learned that our day of relaxation wasn’t exactly what we had in mind. First up: an intestinal “detox” including some kind of “irrigation” of the fecal canal. Um, , not exactly our idea of pampering. Not being the birthday gift we were interested in, we immediately pulled the plug on the plan and swapped our “detox” for a massage (phew!).
However, “detoxing is a hot topic right now, and we always get lots of questions about it. A “detox” can mean different things to different people, even to us, as dietitians. The premise behind it is to clean out the toxins that accumulate in our bodies–for some, it means a colonic irrigation, which we would have had on our last birthday had we not been completely disgusted by the thought of injecting water (sometimes mixed with herbs or with other liquids) into the colon via the rectum to “remove feces” and had we not known that it could be dangerous. To others, a detox involves drinking strictly juice, or some other beverage, without consuming any food. For others, it’s eating only raw foods, or eating “clean,” and cutting out harmful, processed foods that don’t allow the body to function at its best. Whatever your idea of “detoxing” is, here is what you should know before beginning a detoxing regimen of your own.
People looking for a quick fix, and rapid weight loss often turn to the more extreme forms of detoxing to reach their goals. The most drastic form of detoxing is through medical detoxing, using colonics (like at the spa that we went to) and laxatives. Although some people claim to feel “lighter” immediately afterwards (who wouldn’t feel lighter after having fecal matter pulled out of their body?), many of those who try it tell us they aren’t the least bit tempted to try it again. Obviously, it’s far from glamorous. It’s not only unhealthy, it can be dangerous too, especially colonics. They can disrupt your body’s delicate fluid and electrolyte balances and cause dehydration, as well as anemia and malnutrition, among other health problems. (Glad we dodged that bullet.)
People who detox consuming only liquids, abstain from consumption of food and either strictly drink juices made from fruits and vegetables or other beverages like spicy lemonade (i.e. in the “Master cleanse which gained attention when Beyonce tried it and lost close to 20 pounds in 14 days and reported being very cranky while on the diet and to quickly gaining back the weight afterwards). Drinking a healthy juice made from vegetables and fruits can be very beneficial, but not as a substitution for all food. Those who have “juiced,” reported very unpleasant side effects, such as grogginess, hunger and exhaustion, and if any weight is lost, it’s usually short-lived, and returns with normal eating. ) Individuals that we know who tried to exercise while on The Master Cleanse found themselves in for a rude-awakening when having to leave the gym with feelings of dizziness even at the start of exercise. (Again, no thank you, we’ll pass on the liquid detox too.)
So if these detoxes have such draw-backs, what’s the secret to a great detox? The secret is that there is no secret! And what most people don’t know is that our body naturally detoxes itself.
A combination of clean eating and exercise is the best way to restart your system. So the “detox” that we recommend is cutting out caffeine, sugar, processed foods, alcohol, and fried food, while increasing fruits and veggies– the safest way to get your body back on track, rid yourself of cravings (sweets after dinner, anyone?), and kick start a healthy way of life. Eat real foods at regular meals throughout the day, drink plenty of water, and exercise (a natural detoxifier, and a must for anyone who wants to get lean!) in order to maximize the benefits of this healthier approach to “detoxing.” Meet ya for a banana and Greek yogurt after yoga tonight?
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For a Get Healthy Guide, delicious recipes and a 10-Day Weight Loss Jumpstart and Detox Plan, check out The Nutrition Twins Veggie Cure!