Today’s current diet culture has the world believing that if you eat or drink a certain way, you need to “detox” your body from all of those unhealthy foods. Whether it’s after a weekend of indulging or an entire winter season of comfort foods, the idea of cleansing your body and starting fresh may sound like something refreshing to endure—and companies have certainly capitalized on it. Detox teas, juice cleanses, and many other expensive health products are on the shelf promoting a healthier, happier body with just a few days of consuming these products and “detoxing”. Believing this is the ultimate detox myth people usually fall for, thinking a carrot-turmeric juice or a hot flat-belly tea will fix their problems. In reality, there is only one drink that can truly detox your body, and that’s water.
Didn’t see that one coming, did you? While we have been conditioned to believe that there are certain drinks and diets to go on to detox our bodies, in reality, our bodies are meant to naturally detox those “toxins” in our body without us having to do any kind of extra effort via juice cleanses or detox diets. Your liver is your body’s natural detoxifier and can help detoxify any of those unhealthy toxins in your body, according to Medical News Today.
Yet unfortunately, the marketing of these detoxes and cleanses has the world believing that the liver can’t function properly without them, and most of the time, these products aren’t even approved by the FDA, according to John Hopkins Medicine.
So what’s fact and what’s fiction? And how can drinking water detox our body differently compared to these branded juice cleanses and diets?
Jessica Bippen, RD for Essentia Water, gives us a deeper understanding of how hydration is the ultimate way to detox your body and why you need to disassociate other harmful detoxing methods. Here’s what she had to say, and for even more helpful drinking tips, be sure to read up on our list of 108 Most Popular Sodas Ranked by How Toxic They Are.
Detoxes and cleanses are rooted in the same belief that restricting food is the answer to losing weight, which just isn’t true. There is not scientific evidence to support that food restriction works long-term. Even if a detox can help with fast weight loss but it won’t be sustainable. According to Harvard Health, these low-calorie diets will conserve energy and lower your body’s metabolism rate, which means when you resume normal eating you will rapidly gain the weight back.
“These detoxes typically turn into another form of yo-yo dieting or a restriction-binge cycle,” says Bippen. “The marketing around selling detoxes catches people in a vulnerable state when they’re desperate for change. Most people (even if unintentionally) approach detox with a ‘quick-fix mindset’ hoping the detox or cleanse will give them the results they’re looking for in terms of health.”
Detoxes usually lack many of those essential nutrients your body needs in order to properly function. Without protein, fatty acids, or essential nutrients—like fiber in carbohydrates, or antioxidants—assist your body every day in terms of energy, brain function, muscle recovery, immune system, and your overall well-being.
Harvard Health also points out that detoxes this restrictive can increase your risk of developing metabolic acidosis, which happens when you disrupt your body’s acid base, which causes excessive acidity to enter your bloodstream. This can even lead to early death.
Thankfully, your body knows how to naturally detox without an expensive and restrictive diet plan, and drinking enough water throughout the day is an easy way to significantly improve your body’s detoxification process.
“Detoxing is actually an ongoing process that your body does all on its own in order to survive,” says Bippen. “It’s better to focus on supporting your natural detoxification pathways daily by drinking water, rather than opting for a restrictive diet, juice cleanse, or expensive detox kit.”
Bippen is not suggesting going on a “water cleanse” instead of a juice cleanse, but advising that you simply prioritize keeping your body hydrated while also eating a variety of nutritious foods.
“Rather than going on a restrictive diet or juice cleanse, I recommend focusing on hydration,” says Bippen. “Your body is made up of 70% water. If not properly hydrated, it’s impossible for your body to function optimally. This includes the detoxification process that runs through your kidneys, liver, lymphatic system, intestinal tract, skin, and respiratory system.”
“Staying adequately hydrated helps flush out toxins through your kidneys, which you excrete through urine,” Bippen continues. “It also helps remove harmful cell byproducts like urea and carbon dioxide from the bloodstream. Once filtered from the blood, water pushes out toxins through other detox channels like breathing and sweating.”
According to the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, a healthy adult male should be consuming at least 15.5 cups of water a day, and a healthy adult woman should aim for 11.5 cups a day. However, most bodies are different, so an easy way to calculate how much water to consume is by dividing your body weight in half and drinking that number in ounces of water. For example, if you are 160 pounds, you should aim for 80 ounces of water a day—or 10 cups.
“I recommend kickstarting your daily hydration by drinking water first thing in the morning,” says Bippen, who hydrates with ionized alkaline water like Essentia for an extra boost in hydration. “This helps you rehydrate as soon as you wake up and sets the tone for the day in terms of your body functioning properly. I recommend drinking at least one cup of water before any other beverages like coffee.”
So before you reach for that detox or juice cleanse, try focusing on your water intake instead. Aim for drinking half your body weight in ounces of water, and look for ways to make your diet even more nutritious than it is. If you’re not sure where to start, here’s The One Simple Trick That Makes Any Meal Healthier, Say Dietitians.
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