It can be tempting to try a detox or cleanse this time of year. After the excesses of the holidays, with so much food and booze, you may be feeling tired and bloated, and you can be carrying a few extra pounds. Flushing out toxins and feeling renewed and refreshed sounds so appealing. But science says your body is perfectly able to rid itself of toxins–your liver, kidneys, and digestive tract can do the job! And diets may do more harm than good. “I have a hard time with these words,” says Jae Berman, MS, RDN, CSSD, and head coach at Habit. “Toxin is a strong expression, and in case you really needed to detoxify, you should probably be at a hospital! The better notion is hitting the reset button and cleaning up your diet, without going to extremes.”
Here’s what you need to know before you start starving yourself. Additionally, the better, healthier way to assist your body bounce back after the holiday season.
Why detoxing Do Not Work
In the extreme, detox diets tell you to drink fluids just for days or even weeks. That might mean cayenne-lemon water, green smoothies, a rainbow of juices, bone broth, or”tea toxes” (which can hide laxatives). The crazier tendencies include tacos, vodka, even charcoal. Some programs also tell you to buy pricey supplements (read labels very carefully–they may not be controlled by the FDA).
Technically, toxins are always hanging out in your own body, explains Berman. You’re exposed to chemicals, parasites, and bacteria–from the food you eat, but also the air and surroundings –all the time, and your body naturally defends itself. Post holidays, you may also have more alcohol and sugar in your system, and if you’ve been flying or up in the mountains, you may simply be dehydrated. So it is great to consume, but lemon water won’t kill bad guys.
“If you exclusively drink liquid for a succession of days, you’re just going to eliminate muscle and water,” says Berman. “The second you start eating regular food again, you’ll gain the weight back. You’re putting stress on your body–it doesn’t know you’re downtown in a workplace, it thinks you’re starving in the desert! And it will hold onto every morsel.”
Another misconception is “sweating out” toxins. You only lose a trace amount of toxins through your skin, meaning a small bit. But if you’re doing a juice cleanse, the sauna or treadmill may actually be dangerous. Berman’s metaphor:”You’re starving in the desert, and you’re being chased by a lion! That’s hard on your body.”How to Recover the Healthy Way
Still want to try it? Rather than worrying about toxins, there are far more sane ways to help your body recuperate in the new year. “Hit the reset button,” says Berman,”But don’t call it a detox. Let’s just call it clean eating.”
It is not about starvation. Don’t deprive yourself! You shouldn’t feel ravenous. Even if you cut calories, continue to eat real food and have little snacks, every 2 to 3 hours.
Two days is enough. There is nothing wrong with eating light for a few days, but a weekend is everything you need. Rest, reflect, and practice healthy habits you can maintain all year.
Just eat fresh. Take a break from alcohol. Cut out processed foodsanything in a package, with a long list of ingredients you can not pronounce. Cut back on sugar, salt, and saturated fat, which are not tokens, but are not encouraging your health either.
Eat more plants. Replace cocktails, cookies, and roast beef with colorful fruits and veggies. If you really want a detox diet, the soup trend is a good way to do it. Fill a pot with veggies which provide fiber and minerals, plus tons of liquid.
Drink lots of water. It is one of just things liquid diets get right. Hydrate to assist your body to function efficiently, particularly your digestive tract and kidneys–the cleansing champions.
Rather than starving and making yourself miserable, the real point is to spend a few days being kinder to your body. Get back to basics, drinking water and eating veggies, to present your organs the nutrients that they need to do the job. Get back into your fitness routine, and give your brain a break, as well! Lay low this weekend, and make a nourishing soup or large batch mealfor the week ahead. Then carry healthful habits and self-care with you through the rest of the year–clean eating is not just for the month of January.