I’ve heard about detoxing and would like to know the benefits. Is it safe to take detox teas sold in supermarkets? What are some home detox drinks I can make for myself?
Detoxing is a process of removing toxins from the body. It includes short term dietary intervention designed to eliminate toxins from body. Herbs, pills, powders, enemas are other means used to remove toxins from the body. Those advocating for detoxification claim it to be beneficial for human health in multiple ways. It is said to remove “toxins” from the body, thus improving its functioning. The process of digestion is improved, thus eliminating dyspeptic symptoms and increasing absorption of necessary nutrients from the gut. This ensures good functioning of vital organs of the body. Weight loss is yet another advantage of detox. It is said to improve energy levels and immunity of the body. The glow of face and complexion is enhanced. As physical energy is improved, the mood and concentration of the individual is also improved.
The ‘diet detox’ involves fasting followed by strict diet regimes, consisting of only fruit juices or only fruits and vegetables for a short time. Other options include use of detox pills, powders, teas, use of enemas, or herbs. For long, man has been using various herbs like turmeric, basil, and et cetera, to keep the body healthy by detoxifying it and strengthening immunity. Those advocating for use of enemas or laxatives claim that this regularly cleanses the bowels, thus removing all waste material from the body.
Theoretically, all this sounds fine. But it is not all that useful. The toxins, supposed to be present in the body, are by-products of metabolism of various ongoing physiological processes in the body, foreign substances and other materials. A naturally healthy body is capable of removing all toxic substances and foreign substances from the body. Cleansing and detoxification occur naturally as an ongoing process, via liver, kidneys and skin. Hence, in a healthy body, no other cleansing process is needed.
Detox diets if followed strictly tend to make the body weak, as it contains very low calories, which are necessary to maintain energy levels of the body. Detox teas sold in supermarkets contain laxatives, which can cause diarrhoea and dehydration if used in excess. Electrolyte imbalance can also occur. All this can cause headache, muscular pains and sense of fatigue. It can lower the metabolic rate and disrupt normal glucose metabolism. Exclusive detox diets can result in digestive disturbances. Use of enemas may result in diarrhoea and subsequent weakness. The weight loss occurred would be transient as, when one resumes normal diet, the person may gain weight again. Other benefits obtained would also be transient. By eating only “selective diets”, a person may miss on micronutrients obtained from whole grains and other food products.
Dr. Rachna Pande is a specialist in internal medicine