Detox. One little word with a lot of appeal. Sure, it’s not the easiest of endeavors (goodbye coffee, hello herbal tea), but the promise is huge: Just a week into a detox and you’re likely to experience a boost in energy, clearer skin, less gas and bloating and even less congestion, says Nicole Egenberger, N.D., clinic director of Remède Naturopathics in New York City.
What’s behind this seemingly miraculous transformation? Consider this: Even if you take good care of your body, you’re still bombarded with toxins. They’re in the food you eat, the water you drink and the air you breathe. Your body naturally produces toxins, too. It’s up to your digestive system— especially the hard-working liver, the body’s main detoxifier—to send those toxins packing.
In an ideal world, our bodies would eliminate toxins with ease. However, “as our exposure to toxins increases, our ability to deal with them decreases,” says Egenberger. The solution? Give your weary detoxifying organs a rest (read: go on a detox) so they become more efficient. But before you drastically alter your diet, realize that to detox safely and effectively, you’ll need to prep your body for elimination, eat lots of fresh, whole foods (detoxing doesn’t mean you have to fast!) and learn how to transition back into the “real world” when your detox is finished. “Just going back to your same old habits after you detox is more violent on your body than not detoxing at all,” says Mary Saunders, L.Ac., the founder and director of Boulder Community Acupuncture in Colorado. For a safe, do-it-yourself detox plan, read on.
Are you a good candidate for a detox?
YES You suffer from constipation, bloating, gas, fatigue, breakouts, muscle pain, bad breath or PMS. You wake up tired, always feel hungry, crave sweets or have difficulty concentrating.
NO You’re pregnant or nursing. You have an eating disorder or you’re anemic. If you have cancer or any kind of chronic health condition, only try a detox under the supervision of a health care provider. NOTE If you’re on birth-control pills, take extra precautions to prevent pregnancy, especially if you’re taking herbs to enhance detoxification of the liver (which can speed up drug clearance in the body).