Social media is flooded with detox and juice diets to cleanse your body and rid it of all ‘toxins’ to give you better health and lower the risk of various lifestyle diseases. Going by the popularity and relentless promotion of detoxes it would appear that the human body is poorly designed and is a magnet for toxins! But are our bodies really so inefficient at self-cleansing and are detoxes really helpful? Let’s take a closer look at the science.
Does The Human Body Need Detox Diets?
“The human body has evolved over millions of years & has a natural process of body cleansing, called autophagy”
Toxins and detoxes are great catch words for marketing and for promoting fad diets, but most experts now agree that there is little substance to them. While going on a healthy juice diet for a couple of days will do you no harm, don’t fool yourself into thinking that it will help flush out those dreaded toxins any faster than if you were eating your regular food.
The truth is the human body has evolved over millions of years and it has a natural process of body cleansing called autophagy. Your body cells actually produce membranes that cannibalize other dead, diseased, or worn-out cells, reusing the resultant molecules as a source of energy to further new cell production.
This natural process isn’t just for cleansing, but also helps prevent or restrict the onslaught of metabolic disorders and cancerous growths. It is also known to help boost immunity and control inflammation. If you really want to detox, you can simply try to promote the process of autophagy.
Tips To Get Your Body To Self Cleanse
“Researchers observed that the process of autophagy speeds up following periods of intense physical activity”
Physical activity puts stress on your body, causing microscopic muscle tears that are then healed and strengthened. But this process also triggers autophagy, which is probably one of the additional reasons why you feel so fresh and rejuvenated after a rigorous workout.
A study confirmed this, with researchers observing that the process of autophagy speeds up following periods of intense physical activity. Although the precise rate at which this process takes place and how long you’d need to exercise is still not known, experts recommend at least 20 minutes of higher intensity exercise for such ‘detox’ benefits.
“Fasting even promotes autophagy in the brain, improving cognitive function & increasing neuroplasticity, which is essential for learning”
While starvation diets are just a bad idea, the occasional fast has now been shown to offer tremendous health benefits, even lowering the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Researchers believe that many of these benefits could be on account of autophagy, as fasting is another act that stresses the body.
In fact, studies have found that fasting actually promotes autophagy in the brain, improving cognitive function and increasing neuroplasticity, which is essential for learning. This is also promising as a possible method to counter the risk of degenerative brain diseases like Alzheimer’s.
Ironically, juice fasts and detox diets will offer no such benefits, as the very act of ingesting calories works against autophagy. Instead, try intermittent fasting occasionally, consuming only water for periods of around 12 to 24 hours.
Count Your Carbs
“While the keto diet is aimed at weight loss, evidence suggests that it promotes autophagy, lowering the risk of certain cancers, diabetes, & brain disease”
If the idea of fasting is just too unappealing for you, there’s still hope as another process can also promote autophagy. With the growing popularity of Tanmay Bhat and the Keto diet that he used for weight loss, you’re probably already familiar with the concept – ketosis.
The keto or ketogenic diet focuses on lowering carb intake, so that the body is forced to use fat for energy instead. While the main purpose of the diet is to burn fat and build muscle, some evidence suggests that it promotes autophagy, lowering the risk of certain cancers, diabetes, and brain disease. In fact, the diet was first designed to treat epilepsy patients.
Although we are not against detoxes and juice diets per se, the evidence is pretty clear. These detoxes will do you no good when it comes to cleansing, but you can still go ahead if they make you feel better, as there are no known side effects. However, if you really want to cleanse your body, try using these methods to encourage the natural self-cleansing process of your body.
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