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The first thing that comes to mind when I hear the word detox is starving. But hey—if it helps me lose weight and rid my body of toxins, why not?
I was totally brainwashed by amazing claims and testimonials. I YouTubed tons of videos of all these people who said juice fasts had changed their lives, and they had never felt better.
I even bought the book for the most extreme cleanse out there: the cayenne pepper diet, better known as The Master Cleanse, where you drink water mixed with lemon, maple sugar, and cayenne pepper for 10+ days.
I suppose I thought of a detox as a clean slate. It was a way to start over after eating and drinking crap. A reset. I thought juicing would remove all the toxins in my body that eating processed and chemical-filled foods had caused. Plus, I’d lose weight fast, without all the dieting BS. A total win-win!
I later learned that juice fasts can actually raise the toxicity level in your body. The magic ingredient for detoxing is F-I-B-E-R, which is found in whole foods and blended smoothies, not strictly juicing with a juice extractor.
What you will learn here:
First, let’s define detox. My favorite definition of detox is from Cynthia Pasquella, Certified Clinical Nutritionist, “Lifestyle changes that reduce the exposure of toxins while nourishing the body to improve digestion and elimination.”
Detoxing can range from pretty easy to incredibly complicated. For example, some people are quite sick from different parasites and yeast overgrowth. This requires tons of tests and a very strict nutritional and supplemental protocol that can last many months to years.
For a majority of people, doing an extreme detox when he/she has no serious health problems is unattainable. However, I do think you should put some real thought into doing one of these, especially if you have abused your body with excessive drugs, alcohol, obesity, etc. It can help your body rid itself of high amounts of toxins before they emerge as health problems in the future. This requires a lot of discipline. It also requires some money to pay for specialized coaching, food, and supplements.
I am not an expert in extreme detoxes for these extreme cases, but I am an expert in gentle detoxing. It is a part of my everyday life!
To me, detoxing means two things:
1. Eating foods that nourish the body and aid digestion everyday.
2. Having a shorter period of time, say a month, where you strictly follow a healthful diet and, for that extra push, practice extreme self-care bolstered by high-quality supplements.
Detoxing and cleansing sound like a taboo subject for most people. Detoxes are known as being super stressful, limited to a few quick days, and it also usually involves the person following a strict juicing regimen and having only detox juices. The truth is that:
Juice fasts RAISE the toxicity in your body: Typical juicing cleanses takes fiber out of the vegetables and fruits. Fiber is ESSENTIAL and is what binds to toxins and helps eliminate them from the body.
Cynthia Pasquella describes drinking strictly detox juices without fiber as essentially stirring up the muck that is at the bottom of the lake without a way to get it out, you are basically overloading your body without the means to eliminate.
Detoxing is a process: It takes years to build up toxins in the body, and it is going to take more than a few days to get them out.
“Constant Cleansing” is a term I love. You should constantly be nourishing your body with nutrient dense foods to get rid of the toxins we are overloaded with everyday.
You’re probably losing mostly water weight: Most people are juicing to lose weight. When someone loses 10 pounds in a week from a juice cleanse, they are probably losing mostly water weight. And if they actually lost the weight, they did it in an unhealthy way that probably will cause more weight gain.
You may be reading this article and thinking that I’m dead wrong. Like you, I’ve heard friends say they love juicing cleanses and detoxes. Celebrities do them all the time. There must be something right about them! Well let me clear up a little confusion.
LOTS of veggies: There is no doubt about it, veggies are amazing for you. For most people trying a juicing cleanse, they’ve never had this many veggies in a day for years. The way juicing works is that you can have pounds of veggies squeezed into a big cup of juice. To actually eat this many veggies would be a full time job. Most people struggle to get ½ pound of fruit and veggies a day, so these extra vitamins and minerals are what your body is craving.
Juicing can be an amazing way to get lots of veggies in. However, it must be supplemented with whole foods that have their fiber intact. That’s what I like about the Blender Babes’ Whole Food Juicing Cleanse. It’s different from extracted juicing cleanses because it uses full fiber whole food juices AND allows for a fiber rich fruit or vegetable meal.
Cutting out the crap and food intolerances: During juicing cleanses, processed foods or sugary indulgences are out. This alone can make you feel great! You are eliminating the top food intolerances such as wheat, dairy, corn, soy, nuts, and yeast. This takes a HUGE burden off the body’s immune system and can make you feel refreshed.
Reset your hunger cues and quell sugar cravings: I do see one benefit to juicing cleanses: They let your body relearn the sensation of hunger. Your sugar cravings might also be reduced because your body chemistry and gut flora has changed.
Nowadays, our bodies are constantly and relentlessly overloaded with toxins. We experience toxins in every area of life, especially from:
Breathing: Unfortunately, factories lawfully release millions of volatile organic compounds in the air. Not to mention car pollution.
Food: Our foods are filled with chemicals, pesticides, antibiotics, and hormones. Even healthy food is wrapped with dangerous plastic that leaches into our bodies.
Water: Water, the most important part of our being, is not regulated closely enough, allowing toxins into our body.
Home: Our houses have tons of chemicals from cleaning products.
The toxic burden is endless and many people suspect that the rise in cancer, diabetes, autism, and tons of other diseases and disorders over the last few decades is linked to our overloaded system. Cancer cases alone have risen 20% in the last decade. This study by the Environmental Working Group shows that minority babies have more than 200 chemicals found in their umbilical cords. And this is just at birth! Imagine over a lifetime.
The body has a mechanism for eliminating toxins by itself. But with the amount of toxins we are now experiencing everyday, holistic practitioners recommend the detox definition – making lifestyle changes that allow detoxing to be part of your routine.
I barely know anyone, including myself, who sticks perfectly to an organic lifestyle free of ALL processed foods, alcohol, and refined sugar and carbohydrates. It’s an incredibly hard thing to do all the time.
So your body encounters tons of toxins each day. First, your body uses the liver, which is your primary filter to get rid of as many toxins as possible. When the liver identifies a toxin, it ships it down to the kidney, where it can be excreted.
There is a delicate balance between how many toxins you ingest, and how many toxins your body is able to excrete. If you ingest more toxins than your body is able to naturally eliminate, you may start developing health problems. Anything from acne to weight gain to cancer is thought to be caused by excess toxins in the body.
There are 3 main reasons toxins can’t exit the body sometimes:
1. Not enough nutritional support to detoxify (caused by a diet high in processed foods, sugar, etc.)
2. Excess toxin exposure (from work environment, water, air, etc.)
3. Poor liver and kidney function (caused by health problems like alcoholism, diabetes, etc.)
Drink Water! Water is THE most important thing you can put in your body. Most of us are chronically dehydrated. I try to drink at least half my body weight in ounces per day. To boost your water drinking and make it fun and easier to drink, try these 5 DIY Detox Water Recipes.
Smoothie Detoxing: The great thing about using a blender vs juicer to detox is that you get the magic fiber that binds to toxins and helps eliminate them from your body. Blending breaks down whole food vegetables and fruits, making it easier for your system to digest. The Blender Babes’ FREE Juicing Cleanse is perfect for nourishing, not depriving, your body into health. It’s ideal for reaching the goal of 45-50 grams of fiber per day.
When in doubt, just eat real food! Try to stay away from anything that is over-packaged and has a laundry list of ingredients. Try to buy organic produce and use the Environmental Working Group’s Guide if you must buy conventionally grown, as well as wash your fruits & vegetables. Always buy organic dairy and meats.
Cutout common food intolerances: This can be a hard one. Dairy, wheat, yeast, corn, soy, nuts, and eggs. Phew, that’s a long list. The most common are dairy and wheat so start with those! Simply cutting these two out can make a HUGE impact on your health.
Start slowly: If you are going to follow a detox program, you need a pre-detox, detox! You can’t go 0 to 100 in a few days – you will have a really hard time, physically and mentally. Start eating healthier a week or two up to the detox. Blender Babes’s FREE Juice Detox provides you a detox diet plan in addition to whole food juicing cleanse recipes.
Continuous Cleansing: Remember, every meal or snack is a chance to detox. This is my favorite way to think of it. Even if I eat really badly for a day, I know the next thing I put on my fork has the ability to nourish my body and help detoxify my liver. Food really is medicine. It changes your body chemistry.
Mental Detox: Taking care of yourself mentally is as important to your health as the food you eat. This used to sound so woo-woo and out there to me. It also sounded really selfish. The more time you can spend caring for you health, sleeping more, taking some deep breaths, and occasionally pampering yourself, the better your health will be.
Reframing the way you handle stress is key. Studies have actually shown that the way you look at stress rather than the actual stress determines your mental health. Learn your favorite ways to handle stress so it doesn’t get to you. For me, this means running, hanging out with friends, making sure I take some deep breaths throughout the day, watching my favorite TV series (Grey’s Anatomy, anyone?) or taking a Bath Detox to help relax and reset my body.
Detoxing gives you energy and makes you feel alive again! It’s hard for me to remember the old me before continuous cleansing. I was always exhausted and had constant brain fog.
What’s not to love?
What are your thoughts on detoxing? Have you ever tried strict juicing cleanses or a fast? What’s your detox definition? Give constant cleansing a try and let us know what you think in the comments section!