The truth about detoxes here. By Dawn Chen
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After periods of overindulging or one too many cheat days, you may find yourself wondering if it’s time to go on a detox. But, do you really need one?
Detoxification – or detox, for short – is the process where toxic substances are removed from the body. Going through a dietary detox for example, might consist of ‘eating clean’ where you only feed yourself fresh, non-processed foods. But before jumping the gun, it’s important to look at our own body’s natural detox system first.
Clara Lin, pharmacist at Watsons Changi Airport Terminal 3 explains: “Our body has a natural inbuilt detox system that already does a wonderful job at detoxification. The liver processes toxins into non-harmful substances, the kidneys filter out toxins and excess salts from the blood and eliminates them through urine, skin rids toxins through sweat, lungs filter out harmful pollutants through breathing, and our gut excretes substances we do not need in the form of faeces. In healthy individuals, detoxification is actually constantly being carried out 24/7 by our bodies.”
Clara separates fact from fiction and clears up some confusion about detoxes below.
Is it necessary to go on a detox after a binge fest?
During a short period of overindulging, there may be greater stress placed on your detox system as a result of a heavier workload on the organs to process the foods consumed. Despite this, your internal organ system is designed to adapt to such situations and can still effectively carry out its own detoxification.
Is dieting or fasting considered a form of detoxing?
No. By limiting consumption of calories in a bid to detox, your body loses a source of energy. As a result, it starts breaking down muscles and fats for energy, and in the process releases nitrogen compounds which are toxic to the body. So instead of clearing toxins, a crash diet actually leads to the creation of more toxins in your body.
Should one take laxatives as a form of detoxing?
Taking laxatives when you are not constipated in a bid to detox can actually lead to an excessive loss of water. This leads to electrolyte (salt) imbalance, dehydration and other medical conditions associated with low salt levels – including an abnormal heart beat, weakness and seizures.
Does exercising help in my body’s detox process?
Exercising encourages blood circulation and regular bowel movements. These aid your liver, kidneys and gut in detoxification. Furthermore, perspiration facilitates your skin in toxin removal. It is generally recommended to engage in a moderate intensity activity such as brisk walking at least 30 minutes each time, five times a week.
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Are there any foods that help in my body’s detox process?
A well-balanced diet with less sugar, fried or oily food will reduce the burden on your liver, gut and pancreas. Always have your plate at least half-filled with fruits and vegetables. A diet rich in fibre and low in fats helps maintain a healthy weight too.
Besides being mindful of what to avoid, increasing antioxidant consumption may also help delay cell damage to maintain the health of your major organs involved in detoxification. Foods rich in antioxidants include garlic, green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons and limes, broccoli sprouts, and certain teas.
Aim to drink nine cups (about 2.2litres) of water daily too. Adequate water intake helps to maintain cell function, keep your skin hydrated and supple, support kidney function in flushing out toxins and maintain normal bowel movements.