To Cleanse or Detox, That is The Question!

Know the difference between two of the most popular health trends, and choose the one that’s best for you.

| Spring 2020

Photo by Adobe Stock/Konstantin Postumitenko

These days, health and wellness trends are countless and ever-changing. Among those that seem to have acquired mass followers (as well as skeptics) are detoxes and cleanses. Most of us living in contemporary society feel like our internal and external toxic loads are literally weighing us down, so it’s no wonder people are searching for healthy methods of eliminating the excess. Our supermarket checkout lines are trimmed with magazine headlines shouting about kick-starting your imminent slim-down with a “Five-Day Detox,” or ridding your lethargic digestive tract of stubborn waste matter with a “Three-Ingredient Master Cleanse.” But do any of these work, or is it all hype? Can drinking only juice for several days or rigorously cleaning up your diet to support certain organs help you achieve a better physical balance? When should you do a “cleanse” or a “detox,” and what’s the difference between the two? Is there a difference?

Our Cleansing Organs

The human body is an excellent housekeeper. A healthy, functional body has the natural ability to rid itself of toxins and waste products through its excretory system. Almost any endogenous (from within the body) or exogenous (from outside the body) substance has the potential to be toxic to our bodies if it occurs at the wrong time or place, or in the wrong amount; it’s our excretory system’s job to keep this in check.

Photo by Getty Images/BraunS

The excretory system is made up of several of our hardest-working organs. The liver processes pharmaceutical drugs, toxic metabolites, and excess hormones; removes bacteria from the bloodstream; and transforms substances that enter circulation — whether through the skin, lungs, or digestive tract — into waste products that are eliminated through urine and feces. The kidneys, which help maintain proper fluid levels, filter waste products from the blood that are then excreted in urine. The lungs, the body’s personal air purifier, inhale oxygen to distribute into the bloodstream and remove carbon dioxide through respiration; they also help rid the body of toxins that get trapped in the mucus of the respiratory system. The large intestine at the end of the digestive system turns indigestible, solid matter into feces to be evacuated. The skin, the organ least appreciated for its detoxing functions, steps in to expel chemicals and waste materials through sweat if the liver, kidneys, and lungs don’t do a sufficient job. Working hand-in-hand with the excretory organs of the body is the lymphatic system, which filters cellular waste products before they enter the bloodstream.

Each organ has its unique role in keeping us well and keeping toxic chemicals from building up in our bodies. Together, they make up an elegantly cooperative system that works for us around the clock. So why would a cleanse or detox be needed, especially if we maintain a healthy lifestyle and adhere to a diet of nutritious plants and whole foods?

3/25/2020 1:14:11 PM

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