HealthZette

Detoxing Might Not Be So Wise

Try these five steps instead of going to extremes

The garbage we eat, drink, and breathe often has us feeling like we need to hit the reset button on our health.

But does a “cleanse” actually work?

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Detox diets, pills, smoothies, and more are all incredibly popular. But they most likely promise a lot more than they can deliver.

Some detox diets can actually be dangerous. They also cost a lot of money that does little to get you toward your goal, according to Kate Hamm, a fitness and wellness specialist from Boston, Massachusetts.

“Our body is designed to clean itself of toxins,” Hamm told LifeZette. There are strong benefits to keeping our bodies and brains in that healthier state.

Here are five ways to detox naturally if you’re looking to do this:

1.) Drink more water.
The liver and kidneys are actually very effective at accomplishing their tasks, said Hamm. She suggests drinking about half your body weight in ounces. The goal is a good one, unless you exercise excessively in a hot, dry climate.

“It’s amazing how just drinking water can help reduce symptoms of cutting out caffeine and alcohol from the diet,” said Hamm, who worked for five years a wellness retreat designed for people to detox. She has since started her own retreat company, Bliss Sherpa, where she talks a lot with her clients about detoxing.

2.) Stretch.
If you want to take detox a step farther, move your body regularly by shifting your body position and stretching. “This movement helps move your lymph around, aiding in the removal of toxins,” said Hamm.

“The best way to detox is to exercise on a regular basis,” said one health strategist.

3.) Exercise.
The best way to detox — and this should be your No. 1 go-to plan — is to exercise on a regular basis, said Rachel Begun, a Los Angeles health strategist, educator and advocate.

“Exercise keeps everything in the body moving, including the circulatory, lymph, and digestive systems, all of which play a role in ridding the body of environmental toxins, food waste, and harmful bacteria,” she noted.

4.) Have regular sauna sessions.
Getting a good sweat is another great way to detox, Begun said. “Exercise is certainly a great way to get a good sweat on. So is doing regular sauna sessions. Many health clubs have saunas in their locker rooms.”

A Finnish study also recently found that regular sauna use might reduce one’s risk for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, as well as heart disease.

Related: Steam Gains Steam

5.) Remove toxins from your diet.
Switching from conventional produce to organic, eliminating added sugars and artificial sweeteners from the diet, and switching from processed, refined foods to whole foods can help you naturally detox. There are excellent reasons to make those switches in terms of overall health and weight loss, said Dr. Caroline Apovian, director of the Nutrition and Weight Management Center at the Boston Medical Center.

“Going on a liquid diet is not something that assists with detoxification of the body, as this is a function primarily of the liver and kidneys. Going on a juice or lemonade fast, for example, can also malnourish the body and slow the metabolism,” Apovian told LifeZette.

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Avoiding certain foods — including processed foods, fast food, fried foods, caffeine, sugar, and white flour — is a great place to start, said Riya Pulicharam, M.D., national medical director of population health and clinical outcomes for HealthCare Partners in Torrence, California.

If you’re still thinking you need to take extreme measures, Pulicharam advised talking to your physician about any detox programs you may be considering, especially if you have a chronic condition like diabetes or heart disease, to make sure to select the right one for you.

“Know that not all detox programs and supplements are the same. Many of them contain toxins themselves and they could interfere with the decisions you’ve made with your doctor,” said Pulicharam.