If you’ve gotten through life thus far without being tempted to go on a “body cleanse,” you’re one of few. Cleanses are all the rage these days, with countless celebs from Beyoncé to Padma Lakshmi to Lizzo touting their benefits. Whether this involves juicing for a week or fasting for a few days, the idea is these extreme diet changes can detox your body and reboot your system so you feel better naturally.
“Naturopaths have encouraged fasting as a way to allow the body to conserve energy that’s normally used for digestion and redirect it for the healing of the mind and spirit,” says Laura Cipullo, RD, founder of Laura Cipullo Whole Nutrition + Yoga in New York City and New Jersey. “But most recently, people having been fasting on their own, using water, detox tea, soup, and/or juice, as a way to quickly drop weight and remove the ‘toxins’ from their body.”
Of course, fasting does have some benefits. It can be a streamlined way to eliminate processed foods from your diet, especially those made with chemicals, added sugars and other junk, which does make you feel better. However, it’s not the holy grail for good health—and it’s certainly not for everyone. Many experts argue that because detox plans often involve restrictive eating patterns and drastic lifestyle changes, they aren’t very effective long-term and can lead to dangerous, disordered eating behaviors.
“For some people, drastically cutting calories and fasting will deprive the body of the important nutrients it needs to keep up healthy energy levels and to maintain normal digestive function, mental health, and more,” warns Roger E. Adams, PhD, a doctor of nutrition and owner of eatrightfitness. “Plus, sometimes fasting makes people overeat once their ‘eating window’ begins, since they’re appetite is stoked from going a long time without food.”
Luckily, there are many other solutions for cleansing your body and boosting your energy, ones that are more conducive and sustainable for long-term health. Here, experts share some of the best ways to detox your body without fasting or juicing or falling victim to the latest diet culture scam.
How to Detox Your Body Without Fasting
Reach for colorful fruits and veggies
Fruits and veggies that are bursting with deep and bright colors, are high in nutrients your body needs to function optimally. “A rainbow of colorful produce packs an antioxidant punch that will boost your immune system to help your body’s natural cleansing processes,” says Dr. Adams. He recommends trying to eat five to eight servings of fruits and veggies each day. Some of the best foods that cleanse your body include leafy greens, berries, fruit skins, aubergines like eggplant, and bell peppers.
Choose high-fiber foods
When you are looking to detox your body, try cutting overly refined foods that are high in white flour and artificial sugar. “Instead, choose foods that are high in fiber to help your intestines trap and eliminate waste products and toxins that may be present in your gastrointestinal system,” says Dr. Adams. He recommends reaching for easy sources of fiber such as quinoa, whole-grain cereals, barley, nuts and seeds, apples, pears, broccoli, legumes, and beans.
Drink more water
One of the best drinks for detoxing your body? It’s not vegetable juice—and it’s definitely not one of those viral detox teas. The answer is water. And considering that the human body is made up of an estimated 60 percent H2O, it’s no surprise that we should be drinking a lot of it (i.e. at least eight 8-ounce glasses a day). “When you are even just mildly dehydrated, your system won’t run as optimally, and this can affect the blood flow through the kidneys and liver,” says Dr. Adams. “Having a few extra glasses of water each day will give your liver and kidneys a boost at doing what they do best—cleansing your blood,” says Dr. Adams.
Stress can lead to an array of unhealthy habits, such as lack of sleep, physical inactivity, and a diet high in ultra-processed foods, warns Dr. Axe. “This increases inflammation and makes you more susceptible to a variety of illnesses, due to the ‘gut-brain connection,’’’ he says. To lower your stress levels, he recommends incorporating relaxing activities into your week such as exercise, yoga, meditation, journaling, spending more time outdoors, etc., as well as making an effort to get at least seven hours of sleep each night.
Go easy on the salt
There’s a reason you feel extra bloated when you eat salty foods, and that’s because salt traps water and other toxins in your body. Dr. Axe recommends trading in your salt shaker for some healing herbs and spices instead, such as cumin, basil, parsley, and paprika, to bump up the flavor of your foods while also providing a host of health benefits. Also, cut back on high-salt products including convenience meals, pre-packaged snacks, and processed meats like bacon, hot dogs, and sausages. “These are very high in preservatives, salt, nitrates, and other ingredients that can be hard for your body to process,” Dr. Axe adds.
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