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The Truth Behind Doing A Full Body Cleanse and How to Detox Safely

The body is constantly in contact with toxic substances. If these toxins accumulate, various chronic health conditions may arise. Fortunately, the body has a detoxification system for eliminating these toxins. Many believe they can boost natural detoxification processes with a full body cleanse, while others disagree with this claim. But do you really need to detox? Here's what you need to know to decide for yourself. We'll also consider the benefits and risks of the practice and how you can safely try it out.

What Is a Full Body Cleanse?

An image of a woman drinking a detoxing beverageDetoxification is a critical part of optimal health. It involves multiple body organs, like the liver, kidney, skin, lungs, and intestines. These organs work together to rid the body of otherwise dangerous substances, known as toxins.

The body’s detoxification system is quite efficient and effective in eliminating toxins. Still, many have pushed the idea that a full body detox is necessary to remove toxins in some cases.

A full body cleanse is a practice that aims at assisting your natural detoxification system in eliminating toxins from your body. It goes by many names, including rejuvenation, full body detoxification, or simply detox.

Adopting a special detox diet is the most typical way to practice a full body detox. This often involves regular fasts, supplements, teas, and an increased intake of fruits and vegetables, all while cutting down on processed and sugary foods. Other ways to detox include medications, saunas, exercise, and colonic irrigation.

Although the intensity and duration of the practices vary, a full body cleanse is supposed to be a short-term intervention. However, individuals sometimes resort to consistent use for potential longer-term benefits.

Potential Benefits of a Full Body Cleanse

There has been an uptick in detox products recently. Often, those products are marketed as highly beneficial to the body. Below, we will consider some of these benefits and if they have any scientific basis.

Weight Loss

This is one of the commonest reasons people detox. Many claim that detoxification can cause significant weight loss, but there aren’t many scientific studies to support this claim. Notwithstanding, a few studies have found that detox diets can help lose weight.

One such study considered the influence of a lemon detox diet in reducing body weight, body fat mass, waist circumference, inflammatory markers, and insulin sensitivity. The results were hugely positive, with the diet facilitating weight loss in overweight women.

However, this is likely due to the severe calorie restriction that accompanies the diet plan, not to mention that many detox practices involve increased physical activity. It is only natural to lose weight if you expend more calories than what you need.

However, experts believe a detox diet is not a sustainable weight loss strategy, as it targets carbohydrate stores rather than fat. As such, the individual may rapidly regain the lost weight after coming off the diet.

Reduce Inflammation

When detoxing, there is usually an increase in the consumption of fruits, vegetables, and supplements rich in antioxidants. Generally, antioxidants are renowned for reducing the risk of many conditions by mopping up free radicals, ultimately reducing oxidative stress and inflammation.

Another benefit of taking more antioxidants is better skin, as inflammation disrupts normal skin repair and renewal processes.

Research has also shown that some detox diets can raise the levels of glutathione, which is an essential antioxidant in the body. Again, there aren’t enough studies on humans to support this claim.

Stronger Immune System

An image of sliced immune boosting fruits and vegetablesAny diet plan that involves an increased intake of fruits and vegetables often results in a better immune system. Since detox diets are intensive in these foods, a full body cleanse is expected to positively influence the immune system.

Aside from diet, other practices like proper hydration, good sleep, and exercise, common with a full body cleanse, can boost the immune system as well.

Potential Risks of a Full Body Cleanse

A full body cleanse also poses some health risks, either directly or indirectly. We will examine some of these risks below.

Lower Energy

Detox diets are typically characterized by fasting and consuming a low-calorie diet. Despite the emphasis on calorie deficit during weight loss plans, severe calorie restriction can be detrimental. The body needs energy to survive and power cells, and individuals on detox diets may be depriving their bodies of much-needed calories and energy.

Electrolyte Imbalance

An electrolyte imbalance occurs when there are too few or too many electrolytes in the system. Detox diets often involve drinking certain teas and juices, which may load the body with excess electrolytes. Also, many use laxatives for supplements, which can cause diarrhea and consequently a significant loss in body fluids and electrolytes.

Worsen Health Conditions

Many full body cleanse practices are contraindicated in certain health conditions. A case study is diabetes.

People with high blood sugar may be on anti-diabetic medications that help to drop blood glucose levels. Taking further extreme measures to reduce blood sugar, like fasting when detoxing, can cause a hypoglycemic crisis.

Likewise, fasting or calorie-restricted detoxes are ill-advised for many people with weak immune systems, cancer, on certain medications, or who are pregnant or nursing.

Do You Need a Full Body Cleanse?

If you are healthy, the answer is no.

The body’s detoxification system does its job quite well, and you will usually not need external assistance. However, there are instances where the body’s detoxification system is not performing optimally.

Detoxification is controlled by the body’s Detoxification circuit. This is one of the six circuits that make up the NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) Stress Response, which helps manage stress in the body.

The Detoxification circuit consists primarily of the liver, the interstitium, and the immune system. Other organs and systems, like the kidneys, lymphatic system, lungs, and skin, also contribute to detoxification.

If there’s dysregulation in this circuit, conditions like Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS) may occur. This is a condition where the body’s stress response cannot keep up with chronic stressors. Adrenal fatigue is characterized by several symptoms including fatigue, brain fog, and weight gain.

In such an instance where the Detoxification circuit is out of balance, a full body cleanse may be necessary. But if AFS is an issue for you, it's also important to only consider very gentle detox measures that don't restrict calories or involve harsh supplements. The body is sensitive with AFS, and many detox protocols can have severe side effects.

In fact, experts note that many detox products and practices are useless, with some even being harmful. Also, the case of these products is not helped by the little to no scientific studies to confirm the supposed benefits.

Therefore, full body detoxification should be restricted to gentle and research-supported practices that boost overall health. Even then, ensure you speak to your healthcare provider before drastic rejuvenation practices.

Healthy Ways To Do a Full Body Cleanse

There are many ways to support the body’s detoxification system. While many "full body cleanse" protocols have no scientific backing and may even be harmful, there are many balanced ways to help rejuvenate the body. We consider them below.

Reduce Alcohol Consumption

An image of a woman holding her hand on her wine glassThere are many substances we consume that are toxic to our cells and tissues. Alcohol is perhaps the commonest of these toxic substances. The liver, the body’s main detoxifying organ, almost exclusively metabolizes alcohol in the body, converting it to acetate. This allows for easy excretion from the body.

Since the liver is the primary metabolism site for alcohol, excessive alcohol consumption can disrupt normal liver function. According to the CDC, one drink daily for women and two drinks for men is the recommended amount. Anything above that is excess and consistently taking over the recommended limits will damage the liver.

The body’s detoxification circuit will be dysregulated if the liver is damaged. This will open the body to various health conditions, including adrenal fatigue. Given this, limiting or even abstinence from drinking is one way to practice a full body detox.

Besides damaging the liver and disrupting the detoxification circuit, excess alcohol can also trigger inflammatory responses and cause fat buildup, especially in the abdominal region.

Limit Salt Intake

Salt contains sodium and chloride ions. Together, they help with essential muscle function and regulate proper water and mineral balance in the body. However, when they are present in excess, the body retains more water to maintain the appropriate sodium-to-water ratio. The body does this by releasing an anti-diuretic hormone, which prevents urination.

One of the key downsides to that is that the body retains toxins that it would otherwise have excreted through the urine. This is why reducing salt intake is crucial to detoxification.

Increasing the intake of water and foods high in potassium can help counter the effects of excess sodium in the body.

Do be advised that if you already have an electrolyte imbalance or AFS, you may need to actually avoid foods high in potassium. Talk to your doctor before changing your salt intake in this case.

Keep Yourself Hydrated

Water is crucial to life for many reasons, and detoxification is one of them. The body’s normal processes produce waste products like urea and carbon dioxide, which have to be excreted. Also, the body is always trying to eliminate toxins and flush them out of the system. One of the main mediums for excreting these substances is water.

Water carries out these toxic substances from the body through sweat, breath, and urine. Therefore, it is essential to keep yourself hydrated for proper detoxification. However, taking in too much water can cause hyponatremia, a condition where the blood sodium concentration is abnormally low, which can be potentially fatal. Therefore, it is vital to stay within the recommended intake limits.

Research suggests that men take 125 ounces or 15.5 cups of water daily, while women should take 91 ounces or 11.5 cups. However, this value can vary depending on your diet, location, and lifestyle.

Sleep Well

Sleep is essential in restoring and rejuvenating the brain, allowing it to perform at its peak. During sleep, the body works to remove toxic substances that build up during the day.

Another key role of sleep is stress relief. If sleep disorders occur and persist, the body is consistently in a stressed state. This chronic stress can lead to adrenal fatigue. This further makes it difficult for the body to carry out its normal detoxification processes.

Regulatory bodies recommend about seven to nine hours of sleep daily for adults.

Lower Intake of Processed and Sugary Foods

An image of someome choosing fruits over fast foodSugary and processed foods are often extremely rich in sugars, salts, and saturated fat. In excess, studies associate these with obesity and many cardiovascular issues. Additionally, these foods often contain chemical preservatives and sweeteners linked to cancer.

The health conditions that result from the excessive consumption of these foods often affect organs essential for detoxification, like the liver and kidneys. Ultimately, these organs cannot carry out their detoxification roles properly.

Therefore, most full body cleanse diet plans revolve around consuming more natural and healthy fruits as opposed to processed and sugary foods.

Stay Physically Active

Regular physical activity is important for everybody, having several scientifically-backed benefits. Burning fat and reducing weight help lower your risk of certain conditions, like type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular problems.

In addition, physical activity combats unnecessary inflammation in the body, helping to support the proper functioning of organs key to detoxification.

Regulatory bodies recommend 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous exercise or 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise. If you do not have the luxury of time, you could engage in high-intensity interval training, alternating short bursts of intense exercise with lower-intensity recovery periods. If you have AFS, opt for gentle exercises like yoga and walking that don't overly tax your body, however.

Full Body Cleanse Takeaway

A full body cleanse aims at enhancing the body’s detoxification system, which is concerned with eliminating toxins from the body. However, despite its supposed benefits, there are few scientific studies to support the idea that a detox is useful for individuals with a functioning detoxification system.

However, some detoxification practices have proven health benefits and may help people with compromised natural detoxification processes. They include:

  • Hydration
  • Lower salt intake
  • Physical activity
  • Proper sleep
  • Reduced alcohol consumption
  • Reduced consumption of sugary and processed foods

Ensure you speak to your healthcare provider before starting any detox diet or therapy.

For more information about healthy and safe ways to support your detoxification system, the team at Dr. Lam Coaching can help. We offer a free, no-obligation phone consultation at +1 (626) 571-1234 where we will privately discuss your symptoms and various options. You can also send us a question through our Ask The Doctor system by clicking here.

© Copyright 2023 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.

Dr. Lam’s Key Question

A full body cleanse often involves a strict low-calorie diet interspersed with extended fasting periods. Also, the practice involves regular physical activity. Therefore, it typically causes a calorie deficit, which is good for weight loss. However, individuals often regain this weight after coming off the diet.

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