By: Lindsay Reinsmith
Conducting a detox or cleanse is certainly a frightening notion to several people, as this conjures up images of fainting, drinking spicy lemonade, and starving yourself. While there are several juice fasts out there that guarantee to help you drop pounds (since you’re consuming so few calories), putting your body through a detox does not have to be a scary ordeal. First, you have to know the benefits of a detox and what to look for in a safe, healthy program that won’t have you fainting or starving.
Everyday we consume millions of toxins, chemicals, additives, and preservatives in the air and in our food. Our bodies were never meant to absorb these toxins. During the digestive process, your stomach cannot healthfully separate the clean from the bad portions of the food you’re eating. Once in our system, these toxins can hurt our digestive and immune systems and cause such symptoms as:
- bloating, constipation, and flatulence
- poor skin and hair health
- fatigue and loss of energy
- weight gain
- insomnia or poor sleep
- cravings for salt, sugar, and processed foods
- recurring illness/sickness
Many of the symptoms of a detox are related and build off of each other. You may feel sluggish and hungry all of the time but not have any of the other symptoms. Typically the way you feel is directly related to what you’ve been eating. If you’ve ever lost control of your healthy lifestyle and binged on crappy food, you may have felt awful afterward. This feeling can be attributed to the significant toxin buildup in your system.
Detox programs help to “flush” these toxins out of your system using all natural ingredients and plenty of water. By putting only natural foods into your system, your digestive system has a chance to “reset” and use less energy. This gives your body more energy and stability to help enhance sleep, alertness, functional energy, and provide strength for your immune system, which improves hair, skin, and overall health quality.
The colon is the most important part of your digestive system. In it, there can be years of toxic buildup inhibiting your body from experiencing its most healthy state. A detox works to push this colonic buildup out of your system by flushing it with plenty of fiber and water, cleansing your body and ridding it of the toxins and chemicals you’ve consumed over your lifetime.
Once this elimination part of the program is over, many detox participants experience weight loss, water weight loss, and a reduction in cravings for salty and sugary foods. Since you’ve abstained from these foods through the duration of your detox, your body no longer believes these ingredients to be necessary.
There are plenty of do-it-yourself detox programs that involve several trips to an all natural foods store (like Whole Foods), but these programs can be incredibly time consuming and expensive. Organic fruits and vegetables may also be unavailable or prohibitively costly in many parts of the country, especially during the winter months. If you want to do a fruit-based detox program, one of the best is a raw vegan diet, whereby you only consume non animal foods that have never been heated above 118 degrees. This basically leaves you with fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Again, this can be expensive and isn’t for everyone.
There are, however, several detox programs of all types sold online and in nutrition stores. Some of these programs are better than others, so if you decide to go with a supplement detox program, choose wisely.
It is a good general rule that if you intend to cleanse, and you want to do it a nutritional, safe, healthy way, make sure your cleanse program has the following qualities:
Unless you intend to do a fast, which is completely separate from a nutritional cleanse, you’ll want to go with a detox program that values nutrition and contains daily vitamins, protein, fruits and vegetables, and other healthy foods. Many detox programs are simply diet pills that you take in addition to your normal diet (or they’re meant to be your ONLY source of nutrition). These are dangerous and do not provide the benefits your body needs to sustain a detox healthfully. Make sure to pick a product that helps you stay full so that you’re less likely to cheat and break your detox.
Unfortunately, the regulations concerning what constitutes “all natural” is incredibly vague. Many companies, especially those with products made outside of the United States, claim that their products are all natural but they may still use trace amounts of artificial ingredients. All natural in its most simple form means any product without artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners or preservatives. If it’s got citric acid, it’s not all natural. If it’s sweetened with Splenda, it’s not all natural. Basically if you can’t pronounce the ingredients, then it’s not all natural. If your grandmother wouldn’t recognize an ingredient, then it’s not all natural. In general, try to use a detox program that only contains REAL ingredients from the earth, not a lab. If a product contains soy, make sure it is non-genetically modified (non-GMO) and the product uses soybeans instead of a soy isolate.
This should go without saying, but animal products, whether meat or dairy, in general, are packed with fat, hormones, chemicals, cholesterol, salt, and other things that contradict weight loss and a healthy detox. One of the biggest benefits of a detox is reduction of bloating. Animals products directly cause bloating since they have salt, fats, and lactose that can fill your stomach with gas. The types of products that are NOT vegan include those with whey protein, eggs, honey, milk, or meat. Also, it’s important to support companies that use animal free ingredients since it is more sustainable and better for the environment. Several companies, such as Kaeng Raeng, support animal rights organizations by donating a portion of every sale of an animal free product.
Those with Celiac Disease suffer from a gluten allergy, but they aren’t the only ones who should avoid gluten. Gluten can raise insulin levels, cause abdominal cramping and water weight gain, and is usually associated with sugary processed simple carbohydrates that contain the very toxins you’re trying to get rid of. Make sure to choose a detox program that is gluten free, which means yeast and wheat free.
Products that promote “weight loss” are often caffeine pills masquerading as detox pills. These stimulants increase your heart rate, can lead to insomnia and loss of concentration, and really contradict the purpose of getting your body back to a natural chemical-free state. Another type of stimulant is a laxative. Laxatives are often used in colon cleanse products to help speed up the elimination portion of the detox. Yes, there are natural laxatives that occur in nature like Senna and other stimulants, mostly in the form of herbal laxative tea. These products, however, can cause severe cramping and can be aggressive and disruptive to your normal daily life. If you want to detox in a safe, easy way, avoid laxatives.
If a product has a bunch of ingredients you can’t pronounce and most of them are from outside of the United States, be aware that those ingredients 1. are not regulated by as many US agencies as those ingredients made within the USA, 2. had to travel a long way to get to you, which makes the product worse for the environment, 3. does not support the efforts of local farmers and suppliers. If you want to support American businesses, stay local. Many nutritional cleanses are made in Japan or China, while others are made in California, New York, or Florida.
There are plenty of detox/cleanse juices and powders out there that use all natural ingredients and unconventional sources of protein like hemp, flax, rice, or nuts. These products can taste like grass or sand. Hey, if that’s what you like, then go right ahead! But most of us want to drink something that we can keep down. If you can’t stand the taste of a product then you WON’T stick with your detox, so you might as well not try at all. If you want a fruit-based cleanse, make sure to choose one that has actual fruit in the ingredient list, not fruit puree concentrate or fruit flavors.
Probiotics literally mean “for life.” As defined by the World Health Organization (WHO), a probiotic is a living microorganism that, when administered in adequate amounts, confers a health benefit on its host. Probiotic live cultures are friendly bacteria that help to regulate and speed up digestion through the intestines and colon. Probiotic cultures, specifically L. Acidophillus blend, have been linked to better digestive health and stronger immune systems. Probiotics are typically found in yogurt and other cultured dairy products, but are also available in freeze-dried powder form.
There are several detox programs that involve blending smoothies with your own fruit and vegetables. These programs are usually fairly expensive and can be incredibly inconvenient. Make sure to read customer reviews regarding how simple the program was to follow and how easy it is to make the various meals/drinks. Kaeng Raeng, for example, comes in freeze dried powder form and can be taken just about anywhere.
The truth is, there are good companies and shady companies in this business. The shady ones will typically offer a “free trial” and then bill your credit card ridiculous amounts for subsequent months. Other, more honest businesses, will charge reasonable rates based off of the cost of the product. These businesses care about their reputation and customer service. In general, detox programs that charge more than $30 per day are ripping you off, and those that charge less than $10 per day are offering a low quality product.
As soon as you start to feel like crap! Happy detoxers typically conduct a 3 or 6 day cleanse every 1-3 months.
Kaeng Raeng brings together the convenience and affordability of a value product with the quality and health benefits of a luxury brand.