by Anne Cross: It is the time of year when many people begin raving about the physical and mental health benefits of undergoing a detox:
those who detox regularly claim that it makes them feel more refreshed and energized, and that ridding their body of the toxins it accumulates from the foods we eat, the water we drink, and even the air we breathe can improve almost every aspect of your health. But is undergoing a detox the right choice for you? And what effect will it really have on your wellbeing?
What is the Difference Between a Cleanse and a Detox?
Many people confuse the concept of detox with the concept of a cleanse. A cleanse is something that you undertake in the short term, and is something that you can supervise at home independently: a cleanse usually lasts between three days and three weeks and involves increasing your water consumption whilst simultaneously decreasing your consumption of caffeine and other sugary drinks (such as soda). Many popular cleanses are juice based, and will encourage you to consume rich green, leafy vegetables in the form of a juice or smoothie, whilst also increasing your exercise levels and decreasing A cleanse is a great way to kick start a commitment to healthy living, but it will not remove all the toxins from your body in the way many juicing companies claim: the toxins in your body are built up over many years, and so it takes much longer and a much more intensive process to remove them. A detox will place your body under more physical and mental strain than a cleanse because of the increased number of substances you will be removing from your everyday diet, and should almost always only be undertaken with some kind of initial medical assessment or medical supervision.
The FDA have warned against DIY detoxification without the support of a certified medical professional, as a result of many unscrupulous online pharmaceutical companies selling detox products that contain sibutramine (formerly marketed as Meridia) a controlled substance which was removed from the market by the FDA in October 2010 due to safety reasons. Consumption of this substance leads to increased risk of heart attack, stroke, or other cardiovascular incident, and is particularly dangerous when combined with certain other medications. This means that if you choose to undertake a DIY detox by buying a kit online, you could well be risking your life.
Spotting the Signs That You Could Benefit From Detox
If you are feeling sluggish, lacking in energy, and have noticed a switch in your mood (where you were ones outgoing and happy, you feel more prone to depressive and negative thoughts) despite there being no obvious change in your external life then it could well be that you would benefit from undergoing a detox. These are all signs that your body function is being affected by your internal toxicity levels, and that getting these levels back in balance will improve your bodily processes. A sure fire way to determine if your body has high levels of toxins and is struggling to process these is to look at your bowel movements: if you are not having between 1-3 bowel movements a day, or if your movements are hard and difficult to pass (leaving you straining or feeling uncomfortable when you are I n the bathroom) then this is one of the biggest external signs that you would benefit from a detox, and should seek the support of a professional in the field to help you rid your body of the toxins that it is holding.
Its important to note that whilst the supporters of detox are very vocal and enthusiastic about its effects (and it certainly works for many people) there is very little clinical evidence to support the benefits of detoxification, and that many physicians and nutritionists are skeptical about the positive claims made about the benefits of detox. If you are skeptical and unsure about undergoing a detox yourself, it may well be that it is not the right choice for you (as having a positive frame of mind is integral to the success of the process). Instead, why not consider making long term lifestyle choices (such as taking more exercise or improving your diet) which will certainly have a positive impact on your life and ultimately improve your mood and your energy in exactly the same way that a short detox might, but over a longer period of time.
Anne Cross is a freelance writer and mother. She began her career in healthcare but upon becoming a parent decided to follow her passion for writing. She believes it brings the best of both worlds in terms of being challenging yet flexible