Cleansing and Detox: What are the Differences and Benefits?

Getting and staying healthy these days is not as easy as it used to be – or it’s easier than it ever was. That is, depending on who you talk to. The latter is currently a more persuasive way of looking at things, given how many more options people have these days for getting in shape and staying that way. Between how much better medical science has helped us understand human physiology and how well the internet helps us spread that knowledge around and share it with everyone who needs it, people know more these days about what choices are available to them. Sometimes too much, to the point it can get quite confusing for someone who’s new to the scene.

cleansing and detoxFor instance, people can get quite turned around when trying to understand a comparatively novel type of workout, like Crossfit. How does it compare to traditional gym work? What are the benefits and demands, and how different is it really? Then there’s the many superfoods that have emerged as we’ve come to better understand what different spices and such really have to offer. Or even the many types of fitness attire and accessories that supposedly improve one’s workout. One point of confusion that people currently seem to have, however, is being able to see the difference between a cleanse and detox, two highly-recommended processes that at least on the surface seem to have quite a bit of overlap.

The popularity of these methods generally stems from the realization that a body loaded with toxins can be more susceptible to pain and disease. We tend to absorb toxins one way or another, depending on what we’re exposed to – unhealthy environments, or even our food. Toxicity can make its presence felt in many ways, which tend to signal that it‘s time to consider detoxifying or cleansing. Body toxicity is a possible culprit behind fatigue, joint pain, food sensitivities, high blood pressure, muscle fatigue, headaches, mood swings, and anxiety. You may consider a detox or cleanse in order to purge your systems of the many possible there – check with your physician and there may be a plan she can recommend for you.

What is “Detox”?

Detoxing involves making a change in your lifestyle and diet in order cleansing and detoxto detoxify (as the name suggests) your system. This is where there is a lot of overlap with a cleanse. Detox seeks to purge impurities and toxins from your entire body; this includes chemicals, cigarette residue, and even environmental elements. Overall, detoxing seeks to strengthen the body’s detoxification systems, mainly in the liver which is one of the more potent cleansing and purifying engines of the body. As noted, a lifestyle change is central to detox. You may also consider therapeutic sweating in saunas, as well as taking herbal supplements to keep your body topped up with healthy nutrients.

What is “Cleanse”?

A cleanse seeks to mainly clear and clean out the digestive tract. This can be a bit more complex than you’d ordinarily think, as there might be plenty of toxins, fungi, fecal matter and even parasites present in the digestive tract. These, of course, need to be removed as well.When undertaking a cleanse, you should avoid certain types of food. This includes processed foods, refined sugar, alcohol, eggs, gluten, dairy, soy and corn.

Do I Have to Starve Myself?

Not exactly, although your diet will certainly change quite a bit. Some people undergoing detoxes and cleanses may mention eliminating food from their lives entirely, or subsisting on a liquid diet, but this isn’t how it’s done. As a matter of fact, doctors tend to advise against the liquid diet idea because it’s almost sure to cause headaches, vitamin deficiencies and fatigue, not to mention irritability.

Instead, focus on these:

  • cleansing and detoxFor a cleanse, prioritize organic foods, while eschewing caffeine, processed foods, alcohol and sugars. This mainly means going back to basics and eating natural food. High sugar fruits like pears, watermelon, mango and cherry are out, but low-sugar fruit (grapefruit, apple, papaya) can be enjoyed in moderation daily. By the same token, sea vegetables like kelp and nori can take center stage, but starchy vegetables should be limited (potato, beets, yams) and things like corn and nightshade vegetables are out. Free range meat like chicken, turkey, grass-fed beef and such are good choices, as are wild-caught fish like trout, black cod, and herring.
  • Since detox is a more holistic approach to cleaning up the body’s systems at large, there are certain food types you should focus on. Green tea is an excellent detoxifier, and like beets it is also very effective at ridding the body of free radicals. Garlic, apple and onion are known for being good at helping detoxify the liver. Lemon and pineapple good for cleaning up the digestive tract and stomach, while kale is popular partly because of how it helps detoxify the kidneys.

What are the Benefits?

Detox and cleanse programs tend to highlight particular program benefits that generally involve improving body functionality one way or the other.

  • Of course, the immediate benefit is that this helps the body clear out excess waste. While there are of course built-in systems for the body to do exactly that, these can be stimulated to greater efficiency, especially when the liver, kidneys and colon work in concert to clear out harmful toxins.
  • Detox program participants tend to report boosted energy levels, which makes sense given there’s less stuff in their system to bog them down. After all, cutting down on the elements that made it necessary for a detox to be undertaken in the first place can act as an effective reset button for your body’s systems, allowing them to function as they should.
  • A stronger immune system is a huge benefit, and with your immune system not constantly having to deal with toxins it’ll certainly be that much more effective. For that matter, the body can fortify itself more efficiently, as bereft of toxins it can absorb nutrients like Vitamin C more effectively. Lots of detox programs also incorporate light exercises, which should stimulate the body even more.

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