We hear a lot about the concept of “detoxifying” on blogs and in the media. But what does it actually mean?
The idea comes from this notion that the reason that we feel sick and tired is that our bodies are full of toxins that we need to purge. It’s a concept that goes back literally thousands of years and seems even more relevant in today’s modern world of air pollution, fast food, and microplastics.
Detoxing, however, is a lot more complicated than people imagine. There’s some truth to the idea that detoxing is about purging the body of evil compounds, but there’s much more to it than that. It’s also about restoring healthy metabolism and switching on the body’s health pathways.
What Is Detoxing And What Isn’t It?
Detoxing is actually a medical term you’ll hear a lot if you ever go to an alcohol addiction treatment center. The body contains special enzymes, mainly in the liver, that can detoxify harmful compounds and turn them into inert waste products. Alcohol, for instance, becomes sugar and water, which the body can then use for a range of purposes.
Detoxing, however, is not merely the act of drinking green smoothies and nothing else. While some people can benefit from going on a juice cleanse, it is not the juices themselves that do the work of scrubbing out the insides of the body. Instead, it’s the act of removing harmful substances from the diet and giving the body’s internal machinery space it needs to clean house. It’s this process that is the real detox.
What Is Detoxing The Mind?
Detoxing the mind is a different concept again. While what we eat and how much we exercise can affect our thoughts, a mental detox is primarily a psychological or therapy-based approached. People wanting to detox their minds, for instance, will often isolate themselves and try to focus on the beauty of being instead of continually flicking through their Facebook media feed.
Should You Detox?
Most researchers recommend that people “detox” from time to time. Evidence suggests that when people eat healthily and reduce their calories, the beneficial effects can last for months. Going on a fasting-mimicking diet for five days (as advocated by Valter Longo of the University of California) can have profound rejuvenating effects. He’s found that semi-fasting – or just eating light meals for five days in a row – can reset the immune system and help the body fight cancer.
Detoxing your mind can also have profoundly beneficial effects on your wellbeing. Living in a continual state of stress is no fun for anyone. What’s more, there’s evidence that it might shorten telomeres – the caps on the end of chromosomes that fray as we get older. The less stressed people are about their lives, the longer these end-caps and the longer and healthier they live.
Detoxifying, therefore, is an exciting concept. You’re not literally purging your body of toxins – as some advocates might lead you to believe. Instead, you’re creating conditions that help you feel more energetic and healthy.