Juice cleanses and other detoxes have become popular in recent years, but what are the pros and cons?
By Dr. Lauryn Lax
From juice cleanses to detox supplements and 120-day fasts, it’s safe to say that choosing a cleanse can be a little overwhelming. Before jumping into one; however, it is crucial to get the facts straight.
There is a lot of information out there, but essentially a liver cleanse or detox is meant to be a short-term reset for your liver, your body’s most detoxifying organ. The liver acts as a filtration system, deciding which foods, toxins, chemicals and substances you ingest, inhale or come into contact with (hygiene products, cleaning products, environments and plastics) stay inside your body. It’s like a master garbage disposal and recycling machine all in one. When your liver goes awry due to frequent alcohol consumption, a sedentary lifestyle and eating processed foods and conventionally raised meat and dairy, it can’t function at its optimal level. Cleanses can give your digestive system a rest, help you lose weight and eliminate unwanted toxins.
Most people; however, tend to gravitate toward cleanses to lose weight or get toned. Unfortunately, this has made liver cleansing and detoxing a slippery slope. For some, cleansing may lead to eating disorders and disordered eating habits.
To Cleanse or Not to Cleanse?
Did you know that we are exposed to thousands of environmental toxins every day? In fact, the average woman uses 120 chemicals in her beauty products alone. The skin is the largest organ, so what you put onto your skin is absorbed directly into your body. If you would not eat it, don’t use it on your skin. Signs of liver toxicity include difficulty digesting fat (even healthy fats), stubborn belly fat, dark circles, chronic fatigue, frequent nausea, bad breath, hypoglycemia and motion sickness.
If you relate to several of the signs and symptoms above, liver cleansing and detoxification can be a good reset, but only if you and your body are ready for it, both mentally and physically.
Prior to starting a cleanse, follow these important steps:
- Remove foods that are harmful to your liver. Processed foods, conventional meat and dairy, poor-quality fats (hydrogenated oils) and alcohol are a no-go.
- Eat liver-loving foods. Start eating one to two series of dark, leafy greens a day, along with melons, beets, carrots, apples, berries, cruciferous veggies, chia seeds and other fresh produce. Green juice is great, but shouldn’t be what you live on.
- Choose wild-caught fish and organic, grass-fed and pasture-raised meat and dairy. We eat what the animals eat.
- Support your digestion! Follow a baseline support protocol, at the very least, for maintaining healthy gut flora with a probiotic, hydrochloric acid and digestive enzymes.
- Replace toxins and toxic products with the real deal. Gradually begin to replace your makeup, face washes, toothpastes, countertop cleansers, bug spray and sunscreen.
- While cleansing, avoid alcohol, charcoal-grilled meats, cigarette smoke, processed foods (even diet packaged foods) and as many environmental toxins as possible.
- Integrate liver-loving herbs and supplements into your diet. Herbs like milk thistle, globe artichoke, turmeric, caraway, dill seeds and dandelion are super-healing for the liver.
The cleanse and detox industry is a $5 billion industry, marketing juicing and fasting as quick fixes designed to erase any damage done from a weekend-long calorie feast or to clear inflammation, bloating and unwanted pounds. Before going on any cleanse, support your gut health, develop healthy lifestyle habits and do your research.
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