The Science of Detoxification
Consider: the hangover. After a long, hard night of fun, you’ve come home, crashed in bed, and woken up with a headache that throbs, a body that aches, and a mind that is, more or less, no good at all. However, if you’d taken a minute before falling a sleep to wash down some B-vitamins with a glass of water, you’d be a little more spritely in the morning.
The cure for a hangover is a detox in miniature. You have a body flooded with toxins, starved of oxygen, necessary vitamins, and water. Reverse the process, and you’ll have a body flooded with oxygen, necessary vitamins, and water, starved of toxins.
This is where any decent detox routine has its grounding. There are plenty of programs on the market, many with ineffectual or even harmful results – after all, lemon juice, cayenne pepper, and maple syrup is just no way to live. But detoxing is about so much more than hasty weight loss. Detoxing is about living a better life.
At a base level, detoxification is the physiological removal of toxic substances from the human body. Our bodies want to reach homeostasis. And they’ll get there on their own, eventually. Our livers will filter out toxins that will be eliminated in waste. A detox routine just speeds the process along, and ensures that there are no further toxins added in the meantime, by stimulating the liver, increasing elimination through water intake or fiber, increasing blood circulation, and the exchange of toxin for nutrients.
The basic routes of toxin elimination are through the liver and kidneys. Blood enters the organs, and toxins are then filtered out and delivered to the urinary system or back into the blood stream. If you’re eating a healthy diet, your liver and kidneys work as they should. But if you’re overloading your organs with ethanol, sugar, and saturated fats, your body is in for a rougher ride.
Kidneys will deliver the carbohydrates from sugar directly into your bloodstream, causing blood-sugar spikes, a short burst of energy, and then malaise. Your body gets addicted to the spikes of energy, making you crave what made you tired in the first place. Making a change from the short-term attractions of detox
The most frequent physical changes are weight loss, a reduction in bloating and inflammation, and a feeling of renewed energy. When you break an addiction to caffeine and blood-sugar spiking carbs, your body compensates with a more even-keeled release of energy. One journalist described feeling like he was in high school again.
Fasting can be an integral part of a detox routine for those who like to go cold turkey. Mentally, there’s much to be said for the sense of an ending that fasting creates, and the dawning of a new way of life when you’re done. Fasting can be dangerous; keep hydration and nutrition in mind, and never fast for longer than a few days. Bear in mind that toxic foods are addictive – if you’re not replacing candy with fruit, chips with air-popped popcorn and so on, replacing old habits with new good ones – there’s a much higher chance that you’ll relapse when you’re done.
At the end of the day, a solid detox plan is one that constitutes a lifelong detox. Avoiding foods that cause artery blockage, blood sugar spikes, and most alcoholic beverages will reduce your exposure to toxins in an already toxin-heavy world. A simple change for the better prevents inflammation, heart disease, and some cancers, and leave you feeling more mentally balanced and energetic. Above all else, a detox is an investment in yourself: you deserve a healthy body, and a well-planned detox can help get you there.
Caitlin Stripes is a writer for Time To Cleanse. Her lifelong battle with digestive disorders ended after she discovered the healing power of natural detox.