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01 Nov 2013

Easy Ways to Detox before the Holiday Season

Detox diets and programs have become very popular lately, thanks to growing health awareness in the community and ongoing celebrity endorsement.  While controversy surrounds some of the benefits attributed to commercial detox products, most people can benefit from diet restrictions and improved nutrition.  Even if you don't have the desire or will to commit to a lengthy and strict detox program, there are lots of easy ways to get healthy before the holiday season.  
Detox programs can last anywhere from a few days to a few months, and are designed to rid the body of waste and toxic substances.  While there is little scientific evidence to support the benefits of intense and prolonged fasting, detoxification through diet restrictions is widely believed to improve general health and well-being.  Along with improving energy levels and helping to regulate digestion, according to many, detoxing can help improve skin conditions, rid the body of bloating, and eliminate unexplained fatigue.

Detox diets are said to improve the function of the liver, kidneys, and bowel by removing toxins that build up over time.  This claim is controversial, however, according to Dr Ranit Mishori from the Georgetown University School of Medicine:  "The body has its own amazing detoxification systems: the liver and the kidneys... Unless there's a blockage in one of these organs that do it day and night, there's absolutely no need to help the body get rid of toxins." 

According to detox proponents, however, authentic detox programs are simply designed to enhance our natural cleansing routines by allowing our body to concentrate on eliminating toxins rather than processing waste products.  Even though the body already has an amazing filtration system in place, we can help it function better by changing our diet and giving our cleansing organs less work to do.  Providing our system with rest and stocking up on much needed vitamins and minerals is a great way to get our bodies back to full capacity. 

Detox diets generally recommend the elimination of sugar, dairy, caffeine, and alcohol.  Some diets will also recommend eliminating or greatly reducing wheat, yeast, and meat products for the period of the detox.  Certain detox regimes will also recommend specific herbs and supplements to enhance the cleansing process.  According to Choice magazine, commercial detox ingredients fall into four major categories - liver helping herbs like milk thistle and dandelion, digestive aids like ginger and peppermint, laxatives such as fennel and senna, and diuretics such as golden rod and birch.

While fasting, exclusive juice diets, and detox herbs are included in many commercial detox programs, their use is controversial and often expensive.  The easiest way to detox your system before the holiday period is simply to eliminate nasty food products from your diet and increase your intake of water and healthy food.  While strict, quick-fix detox programs may make us feel better in the short-term, like always, developing healthy and long-term eating and exercise habits is the best medicine of all.