There are many ways to do a detox. Typically, people will do a detox, or cleanse, for one of three reasons (and sometimes a combination of the three):
To lose weight
To boost overall health
To eliminate toxins
Most people may associate detoxification with a fast, or drinking only juices, or eating certain foods. It can also include dietary supplements or other products, using herbs, cutting environmental exposures, or one of our favorites, going to the sauna to sweat out toxins.
For the person looking to try the dietary equivalent of doing some spring cleaning on their body, there are a wealth of ingredients that people turn to help purify one’s system. Do they work, however?
Activated charcoal has become a popular detox item in recent years. Charcoal’s detoxification powers have long been used in medicine, for instance in cases of consuming certain poisons, when they’re taken to emergency, often it’s charcoal to the rescue. That’s because charcoal binds to the poison and blocks its absorption into the bloodstream.
Charcoal has become a common ingredient in a range of personal care items and even housewares, like a charcoal-infused mattress topper and pillows. Some people take activated charcoal for digestive ills like diarrhea, bloating, or gas, or as a hangover prevention or cure.
Some may encourage ingesting charcoal regularly; however, you should be aware that if you’re taking important medications that charcoal may reduce their effects. As well, if you’re spending $8 on a daily wheatgrass and kale smoothie for the vitamin boost you could be flushing that money down the drain as charcoal can block your body’s ability to absorb the nutrients.
In a water filter, charcoal improves the taste and smell of drinking water as it removes some chlorine, pesticides, and metals like lead and copper, but not bacteria or dissolved minerals.
Using charcoal isn’t a total pass, and its effect can’t be discounted when used in skincare and deodorants like our Detoxifying Charcoal Soap and the new Clean Clay deodorant. When charcoal is activated, it binds to toxins, bacteria, and environmental junk - which is especially beneficial in products like deodorant because it’s the bacteria that stinks, and not the sweat itself.
Apple Cider Vinegar
As part of a holistic lifestyle, apple cider vinegar has some potential health benefits hiding in those murky glass bottles. Look online, in most any health magazine, or at the bookstore and there will be no shortage of tomes and articles citing the miraculous effects of apple cider vinegar. Raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar with the “mother” included is believed to be especially beneficial because it contains proteins, enzymes, and acts as a probiotic.
Natural beauty enthusiasts tout its benefits in helping to clear up acne when used as a toner and its effect on dandruff due to its anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. Because its main ingredient is acetic acid, which can kill bad bacteria, apple cider vinegar has also been used as a disinfectant. (Not for COVID-19, however.) There is also a small amount of evidence apple cider vinegar may help reduce blood sugar levels after eating some foods high in carbohydrates for those with type 2 diabetes.
But beware of too much apple cider vinegar, however, because the increased acid can cause stomach aches and may have an adverse effect on your tooth enamel.
Lemon is a popular go-to for detoxing and when you drink lemon water first thing in the morning, it can help clear your digestive tract of excess mucus. Plus, the vitamin C content helps improve the condition of your skin.
Adding lemon is a great way to increase your daily water intake and the more you drink, the better for your skin. When you drink lemon water with foods that contain iron, like a leafy green salad, it will help your body absorb the minerals more efficiently. Lemon in itself is also a great source of potassium, antioxidants, and a range of B vitamins.
It also shows as the main ingredient in the Master Cleanse diet which is basically a 10-day liquid diet fast where only a modified lemonade drink is consumed. The recipe generally consists of freshly squeezed lemon juice, maple syrup, a pinch of cayenne pepper, and distilled water. Many people have tried this to lose weight quickly. While it’s likely true if you stick to it weight loss will follow -- a typical day’s calories would drop to about 650, which is considerably lower than what’s recommended for optimal health -- but it can be extremely difficult to stick to a liquid diet for the recommended 10 days. One way to incorporate this drink successfully is to drink it first thing in the morning on an empty stomace to flush toxins and start the day off right. Starting your day off with a healthy ritual sets the tone for a succesful day.
Fasting or detoxing as a way to jumpstart a weight-loss program or to start implementing a cleaner, healthier lifestyle continues to hold appeal. Of course, the best thing for your health is a diet rich in vitamins and minerals and avoiding triggering foods that can bring on bouts of discomfort, acne, or rosacea. For some people dairy remains a persistent issue. Not only can lactose intolerance cause digestive issues, but dairy has been linked anecdotally to breakouts and cystic acne.
Our bodies are wonderfully made and have several purification systems already built-in including the liver, kidneys, and gastrointestinal tract.
While the allure of a dramatic overhaul of eating habits and lifestyle might sound great, a better approach is to just eat more sensible portions and go for a diet rich in lean proteins, fruits and vegetables, and whole grains. Adding both prebiotics and probiotics can help improve your gut microbiome while fiber is an excellent way to “clean out” a person’s colon for an inside-out renewal. Fiber helps you feel fuller without adding a lot of calories and along with fruits and vegetables -- in addition to providing vitamins, minerals, and fiber -- also can help reduce the likelihood of some cancers and other diseases.
Paired with a regular exercise plan and staying away from real toxins like alcohol and cigarettes is the better long-term cleanse. The best detox is always a balanced diet and plenty of water to keep your liver and kidneys cleansing like they’re designed to do.
Guest Author Bio: Patrick Bailey is a professional writer mainly in the fields of mental health, addiction, and living in recovery. He attempts to stay on top of the latest news in the addiction and the mental health world and enjoys writing about these topics to break the stigma associated with them.
CNN - Four Reasons to Skip an Activated Charcoal ‘Detox’
CDC- Centers for Disease Control - Choosing Home Water Filters & Other Water Treatment Systems
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov - Examination of the Antiglycemic Properties of Vinegar in Healthy Adults
www.harvard.edu - Apple Cider Vinegar Diet: Does It Really Work?
www.healthline.com - 6 Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar, Backed by Science
www.healthline.com – 7 Ways Your Body Benefits from Lemon Water
www.healthline.com – How Does the Master Cleanse Diet Work?
www.usnews.com - Master Cleanse (Lemonade Diet)
www.nccih.nih.gov - ‘Detoxes’ and ‘Cleanses’: What You Need to Know
www.healthline.com - The Truth About the Lemon Water Detox
www.cdc.gov - How to Use Fruits and Vegetables to Help Manage Your Weight