General Wellness

Ask Sofia: Should I Do a Cleanse?

From talk shows to gossip magazines to friends trying out the latest fad, detox diets or “cleanses” are everywhere. The typical cleanse can last anywhere from a couple days to several weeks, in theory clearing your body of toxins.

But does that mean you should try one?

While eating and living healthy are always a good idea, many detox diets are really a “quick fix” that promise rapid weight loss. Often, the weight loss is water weight that is easily replaced and some people end up binging after a cleanse due to intense hunger. Certain cleanses can lead to loss of lean muscle tissue, which is hardly desirable. Likewise, if you’re doing something that you cannot maintain for the long term, you’re not creating good habits.

However, we are exposed to harmful substances on a daily basis, from pesticides in food to environmental toxins, not to mention news stories and negative thoughts that can begin to weigh a person down. When you reset your diet and focus on ingesting nutrient-dense foods, you can identify unhealthy habits and your motivations behind changing them. Ultimately, the definition and composition of the “cleanse” is what matters, and choosing a program comprised of healthy foods rather than deprivation can create positive results.

“Honestly, the best way to cleanse your body is to eat well and move your body on a regular basis. This includes five to nine cups of fruit and vegetables daily, at least 30 to 40 grams of fiber, a minimum of 64 ounces of water, choosing organic meats, fish and poultry, and breaking a sweat while exercising at least three days a week, not to mention some deep breathing and a healthy mindset,” said Allie Nowak, physician assistant at Clinic Sofia.

Nowak’s other recommendations for supporting detoxification pathways include:

-Drink 64 ounces of water per day.

-Sweat during cardio exercise three times per week coupled with a nutrient-dense diet to allow for gradual release of stored toxins from fat cells when you lose weight.

-Saunas are another way to support detox through the skin.

-Get quality sleep – a full seven to nine hours per night.

-Invest in green make-up, body products and household cleaning supplies. There are many endocrine-disrupting chemicals packed into beauty products and the skin absorbs everything you put on it, so read the labels and use online tools to find safer products – she likes EWG Skin Deep Cosmetics at EWG.org and the app “Think Dirty,” for instance.

-Dry body brushing, or brushing your dry skin using a brush with natural bristles, can help to stimulate the lymph system, encourage blood flow and pull out toxins.

Fortunately, our bodies have great natural systems for toxin removal – your kidneys filter toxins while lungs exhale pollutants and your digestive system removes other waste – so you are cleansing daily, whether you realize it or not.

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