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Breaking down Detoxes...

October 27, 2016

Spring is here in Hong Kong…sort of!  It is the season of change and renewal and our bodies begin to shift.  Our metabolism and activity increases as the weather warms up and out of winter…of stagnation and dormancy.  In my opinion, this is a good period of time to do a detox.  Recently, there’s been a huge surge in the health food industry with a gazillion different products, juice fasts, and diet plans catering to people that want to do detoxes.  And of course, on the contrary with this “hype” or “fad” there are always the nay sayers and the un-believers!

Well, what is a detox?  Why do some people believe in it and some people don’t?  In my opinion, detoxes do work.  It’s a conscious process of eliminating excess toxins from within the body through diet & lifestyle.  The misconception of what a detox is suppose to do and what people want it to do, I think gives detoxes a bad wrap.  Here are a few points with respect to detoxification that I’d like to point out:  

Myths of Detox:

  1. Detoxes is one form of weight loss management.                                 False - Detoxes are not for weight loss.  The body needs to increase metabolism to push out toxins and eliminate them, therefore, a proper detox requires increase meal count and possibly calorie count to push biochemical pathways to increase elimination.

  2. Starving or eating minimally is a good form of detox                           False - this is by far the dumbest concept of what detoxing is.

  3. Juice detoxes are just as good as any other detox program.       Indifferent - Juice detoxes can and do increase potential biochemical pathways for elimination, but the decrease in metabolic rate  prevents a proper physiological response for detoxifying the body.  However, juice fasting - for no more than 3 days can be beneficial for colon cleanses.

  4. Detox products without any diet or lifestyle changes, at least for that period of time is still a good form of detoxification                               False - Spending money on supplements, or products catering to detoxification is good, on that first step towards health, but if one continues to go drinking and/or smoking; eat fried, fatty foods, it defeats the purpose of the products that one purchased.    

  5. Detoxing everyday is just as good as going on a detox program         False - This requires a lot of discipline to modify/change your diet and lifestyle and to keep it up!  Going on a program, simply makes it more intense for a shorter period of time, so one is more focused.  

Facts of Detox:

  1. There are different types of detoxes that one can do - systemic cleanses, colon cleanses, organ cleanses.                                                                 All requires different nutrients and dietary demands to push pathways or organs to stimulate elimination

  2. Although the liver is eliminating toxins daily, in order to kick start certain pathways, it requires a least 5-7 days                                                   Doing a detox program for 3-5 days will not be beneficial.

  3. Metabolites from Phase I detoxification pathway in the liver can create substances that are more toxic than the original substances.

  4. Saunas are beneficial for detoxification

  5. Hot-Cold showers can create an artificial muscle pump to eliminate toxins and warm you up faster

  6. Eliminating the top food allergens is essential for a detox                       i.e. dairy, gluten, soy, coffee, red meat, peanuts, etc…

  7. Lifestyle is just as important as diet for a proper detox

  8. Exercise can help in the elimination of toxins through skin and lungs.

Organs that help you detoxify:

  1. Liver

  2. Skin

  3. Digestive Tract

  4. Kidneys

  5. Lungs

There’s no particular detox program that is superior to others, nor is there a particular product that is better than others.  Detoxes are best customised to your body type, diet, and/or lifestyle.  As a naturopathic doctor, we design programs for patients all the time and see the changes and benefits they get from them.  Programs can range from 10 days to a month…even longer!  Programs can be strictly dietary or a mixture of both product and dietary changes.  The mindset is important to make such extreme changes.  Normally, where one fails the program, is psychological and they quit after a few days.  When I was in first year CCNM in Toronto, I was adverse to it, but was keen, for I wanted to experience some of these programs first hand.  Now, 14 years later, I do annual detox programs personally!

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