“New year, new me!” That seems to be the mantra once January rolls around, with many people promising to make this their best year yet and resolving to ditch their old ways. When it comes to resolutions, weight loss is often at the top of the list. You may have heard some of your friends declare that they’re jumpstarting their weight-loss efforts with a “detox” or a “juice cleanse.”
If you’re wondering about the difference between a detox and a cleanse, and are thinking about trying it out for yourself, read on.
What Does “Detox” Mean?
First things first: The human body is a well-oiled machine that is very adept at detoxifying itself. Harvard Health Publishing enumerates how the different organs efficiently eliminates toxic substances: Our skin is our first line of defense against bacteria, viruses, and other harmful substances; we have fine nose hairs to trap larger bits of dirt and mucus to get rid of smaller bits that make it into our lungs; we have an immune system that protects us from attack; our kidneys filter waste out of our bodies; and our liver is the superstar detoxifier, acting as the body’s main filter.
The terms “detox” and “cleanse” are often used interchangeably to mean getting rid of excess “toxins” (harmful substances). The detoxification and cleansing movement is built on the premise that we are ingesting too many toxins from food and from the environment that our body can’t efficiently process and get rid of them.
But there is so far no scientific proof that this is true—one clue is that toxins are often referred to in vague marketing terms and are not specifically named by people looking to make a quick buck from detox diets and cleanses.
Resetting Your Body
That being said, there is a way to help your body more efficiently cleanse itself. Instead of relying on a magic pill or trendy diet to help you flush out harmful substances, you can simply live a healthier lifestyle. Try the following tips:
1. Ditch the unhealthy stuff! Cut out processed and fried foods, sugar, and other things that can irritate your gut and cause inflammation. (Inflammation is a big no-no as it’s at the root of many other health issues.) These irritants are more taxing on your body as they make your system work harder to process them and flush out toxins.
2. …and load up on the good stuff. Think of it more as a lifestyle change than a temporary diet. Overhaul your meals and make sure to include lots of fruits, vegetables, grains, lean protein, and healthy fat.
3. Drink up! Get your recommended eight glasses of water a day to help your kidney flush out waste. While you’re at it, consider adding some fresh lemon to a glass of warm water to start your day. Experts say lemon juice has electrolytes that aid in digestion and can encourage your liver to get rid of harmful substances. That shot of Vitamin C is also great for your immune system.
4. Hit the yoga mat. Some twisting yoga poses are said to help your body get rid of toxins. Makes sense: If you’re stuck doing the same poses every day (seated on a chair at work for hours on end, for example), you may end up scrunching up some of your organs. By twisting and lengthening, you may stimulate digestion and loosen the kinks and clogs around your body.
5. Exfoliate. Slough off dead skin cells and stimulate circulation by giving your body a scrub a couple of times a week.
6. Sip some tea. Tea may help enhance organ function but take note that it can only do so much for your health—you first have to make sure that your diet is healthy before it can do its job.
Also, those powdered teas don’t count! They contain loads of sugar and are processed beyond recognition. Go for teas that contain dandelion, which aids liver function; ginger, which reduces inflammation and helps control blood sugar; and chamomile, which is calming. (Visit Healthy Options for a range of teas that can help you detox.)
Interested in trying detox teas? Be sure to consult your doctor before trying anything with unfamiliar ingredients and take care not to abuse those that contain laxatives that may lead to dehydration.