One of the many pointless debates that really annoy me is whether or not you should detox. It never seizes to amaze me how so many intelligent people are so narrow minded and unable to look at any subject from more than one perspective (the one that’s most convenient for them, perhaps?) and realise that, like with most things in life, it’s not so black and white, it’s not a clear yes or no answer, it depends….

In theory, you should not need to detox because your body should be well able to do that.Detoxing (i.e. getting rid of toxins, crap, stuff that’s of no use or even harmful to your health) is a basic function of your body, there’s no tricks or gimmicks to it. Anyone who did biology at school should know this. Your liver, kidneys and the colon are your main detoxing organs and your lungs and skin also do a lot of detoxing.

Except, often they can’t get the job done because we put them under too much pressure. Our bodies are designed to run on whole foods, vegetables, fruits, grains and some animal products – think things that grow and have life, that existed before factories. Your detoxing organs can well handle all that.

Most people these days, however, feed their bodies less of the good stuff that fuel us and more of the rubbish processed foods, alcohol, foods made in factories, dead foods that never grew, that are harmful to us. This stuff, your body’s not going to be able to handle on its own because it’s not what it was built for – evolution hasn’t quite caught up with the food industry here!

Diseases such as cancer and heart disease are often called ‘lifestyle diseases’ or ‘Western diseases’ for a reason. According to Dr Michael Greger, the typical Western diet is the number one cause of disease and premature death. Genes account for only 10-20% of your risk; the rest is lifestyle, mainly diet. This is why we need to detox. To give our hardworking bodies a break, to flush out all the build up from our processed food filled diets and to nourish our bodies with nutrient rich foods (which is the fuel our bodies run on) so that our natural detox system will be able to work better again.

HOW SHOULD YOU DETOX?

Detoxing really just means leaving out processed crap, any ‘toxins’, the stuff that causes diseases and eating lots of healthy wholefoods that fuel our bodies, help cleanse your liver, colon and kidneys and support them. Basically, lots of plants but you could also eat some healthy grains and even some meat or fish on a detox. It doesn’t need to be extreme – for most people the extreme juice cleanses and the like are just far too much and I would never ever recommend them to someone who eats lots of processed foods. Not worth it.

I think this is part of the problem when it comes to the debate – when you hear the word detox, people tend to think of extreme liquid only diets that are usually sold as quick weight loss programmes (because people are desperate to lose weight so there’s a lot of money in it, quite frankly!). While you always lose weight on a detox, it shouldn’t be done as a quick fix diet and if it’s sold as such, then it’s probably best to be avoided. Done right, a detox can really help you cut food addictions, such as sugar, bad carbs, alcohol and junk food, and really clean up your diet and lifestyle, which will lead to sustainable weight loss over longer period of time and of course improved health and well being. The keys to successful detox are:

  1. To not make it too extreme – if you regularly have pizza for dinner and chocolate for your snack, for example, you should not do a crazy juice fast but just start with removing all processed foods from your diet and replacing them with whole foods.
  2. The week after your detox is the key. It’s important to be mindful of your diet so that you don’t go back to your old ways – this is where you really create new permanent habits and, done right, it’s fairly easy and exciting after a detox. This it’s where most detoxes fail as they leave participants to their own devices after the programme ends and before you know it, you’re back to square one.

So there, the simple answer to ‘should you detox?’ is ‘it depends on your current diet’.

Sometimes the truth is so inconvenient it’s easier to just deny it, block it out. So if you still believe that there’s no point in detoxing, that your body is well able to cope with Big Macs, family sized chocolate bars and/or weekly binges on alcohol, that getting sick would be just a random coincidence, then perhaps ask yourself  ‘is that really true? In your heart, do you REALLY believe it? Or is it just a convenient lie you tell yourself?”

If you want to give your body a break and do it the right way, join my next Clean Eating Kickstarter on May 9th. 20% off early bird offer ends 22nd April!

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