Spring Detox Cautions
You’ve likely seen a lot of marketing and products geared towards ‘detox’ or ‘cleanses’ recently. While I’m all for supporting healthy change (obviously) my concerns with spring cleanses or detoxes are the following: skipping/ignoring the basics, unsustainable/radical diets which may impose health risks, use of products (price and quality), and the lack of individualization.
A brief background
Detoxification is the process of the body ridding itself of anything that is useless or harmful to cell function. ‘Toxins’ include things from our environment that we’re exposed to like air pollution, endocrine disrupting chemicals found in plastics, pesticides, etc. It also includes our body's waste products - for example, byproducts of hormone metabolism. Our body is literally detoxing every second.
Specifically, our liver, lungs, skin, intestines, and kidneys are the main organs that break down and eliminate waste from the body. Translation: sweating, exhaling, urinating, and defecating is how we get rid of things.
So why do a ‘detox’ if our body naturally detoxes?
This is controversial. The argument for detoxes is:
1. Our modern world is full of more synthetics and chemicals than ever before which places excess burden on our organs of elimination.
2. We spend most of our time indoors, at home and at work, in buildings that are becoming more tightly sealed. Pollutation is much greater indoors vs. outdoors.
3. Our produce is heavily sprayed (notably, with some pesticides that are banned in European countries) and most meat/dairy is treated with hormones and antibiotics . To buy more quality, organic food is expensive, making it unaffordable for most of us.
4. Most people don’t sweat regularly and in addition, wear underarm anti-perspirants which blocks the release of sweat.
5. It feels good – many people report improvements in mood and energy after doing some sort of cleanse.
Overview of My Cautions & Concerns:
1. Skipping the basics:
a. Sluggish Elimination – This needs to be in tip top shape a.k.a you need to be having a bowel movement at least 1x/day, urinating and sweating regularly before considering the addition of detox products. If your elimination is sluggish, then you’re not clearing waste effectively, and there’s no point adding a detox product unless it specifically works to increase transit time. On that same note, if you're making a dietary change, you need to make sure it doesn't reduce the frequency of your bowel movements.
b. Not addressing exposures –The most preventative thing you could do is to minimize your daily burden by making lasting lifestyle and dietary changes ex. replacing plastic Tupperware with glass. We know our bodies are capable of detoxification (unless you have a genetic polymorphism) so do it a favour, and decrease the amount of work it has to do.