Detox vs. Detoxification

I know this is scary, but...

The beautiful thing is that our bodies actually know what to do. Let’s talk about detoxification and why it’s important in the face of what we are being exposed to on a regular basis. Detoxification is different than the word detox, which you’ll find out soon enough, is just a popular term for a shortchange in eating habits with the goal of reducing body burden and enhancing, what we are actually focused on talking about today, and that is metabolic detoxification.

A detox, or cleanse, is a short term, 1-30 day, program that involves restriction and  elimination of certain foods, while supplementing with others, in order to upregulate your body’s detoxification pathways. Historically, people have been doing ‘spring cleanses’ for centuries. Although this idea has some benefit for health, it would essentially be like taking a 3 day shower every 6 months, rather than taking a 5 min shower every day. As you can see, that logic just doesn’t work, not for cleaning the body in a shower, nor for cleansing the liver. Furthering the point, many of these cleanses and detoxes on the market have no evidence to support them, while some may actually cause harm!

Detoxification, on the other hand, is the body’s own innate capacity to process chemical toxins and eliminate them from the body. The organs responsible for detoxifying environmental compounds include the kidneys, liver,sweat glands, lymph nodes,  gastrointestinal tract, and immune system. They are typically capable of tagging, packaging, and removing pollutants, drugs, and many other chemicals that affect our health. The human body is constantly in some state of detox, which is crucial to our survival.

The part of metabolic detoxification that we will hone in on today is of the liver where there is a series of enzymatic reactions that neutralize and dissolve toxins. Meaning, the liver turns toxic substances into less toxic substances and then dissolves them in water to be eliminated from the kidneys and/or gut. The goal of detoxification is to breakdown hormones, metabolize vitamins, inflammatory molecules, signalling compounds, environmental toxins, prescriptions drugs, and even plant compounds that we are exposed to in our daily fruit and  veggies and any herbal medicines.

The problem arises because the amount of these things that bombard our body on a daily basis is so great, that our detoxification processes become overwhelmed and can’t keep up. Plus, we are lacking nutritional requirements from phytochemicals in our everyday diets. As a result, our detoxifying systems are hit with a double whammy when it comes to trying to keep the body safe.