Is “detox” real or just a buzzword?
Like the words “natural,” “herbal,” and even “organic,” “detox” certainly has been used and abused by savvy marketers trying to push their newest supplement, superfood, or product.
But that doesn’t take away from the fact that detoxification is a very real thing, and that certain practices and products can support this process.
Newsflash: our bodies are always detoxing!
Our bodies know how to detox, and how to do it well. And the fact of the matter is: if they suddenly stopped being able to do so, we’d die! So yes, detoxification is very real and a pretty darn important process.
It’s key to know that our bodies don’t just need to detox alcohol, poisons, or the many toxins with which we come into contact with nowadays (hello, body burden). The body’s own natural metabolic processes produce toxins, which is why we were built to be fine-tuned, detoxing machines! Our detox pathways are also responsible for getting rid of excess and used hormones in order to maintain hormonal balance. When we think of detoxification in this way, it strips away the seemingly sensational aspect and helps to understand it more clearly.
The main detoxification organs and pathways are:
- The liver: The body’s master site of transformation, the liver takes toxins and hormones, and renders them virtually harmless.
- The GI system: The liver dumps toxins into the bile to be excreted into the large intestine and expelled with our stool. The integrity of the intestinal lining and regular bowel movements are key to making sure everything runs smoothly.
- The lymphatic system: A major component of the immune system, the lymphatic system is a network of organs, nodes, vessels, and ducts that produce and transport lymph. Lymph sweeps up metabolic wastes, bacteria, and toxins, and ushers them to the bloodstream to be processed by the liver.
- The kidneys: Like the liver though to a lesser extent, the kidneys also filter the blood, removing impurities.
- The skin: The body does expel some toxins through the skin via sweat.
But what happens when our detox pathways become overwhelmed?
When the body 1) takes in or produces more toxins than it can properly detox or 2) our detox pathways become sluggish and our toxic load builds, a range of symtoms and health issues can result: hormonal imbalance, inflammation, cravings, fatigue, joint pain, digestive issues, skin issues (like acne, eczema, and dermatitis), brain fog, headaches, and foul body odor.
Plus, those unhealthy chemicals that we come into contact with on a daily basis aren’t being properly neutralized and expelled, meaning they have a far more profound effect.
Now more than ever, it’s key to support the body’s detox pathways.
The fact of the matter is: we’re exposed to an absolute ton of unhealthy chemicals and toxins nowadays, from the pesticides and herbicides used on produce to the ingredients in your personal care products, form industrial air pollution to chemicals used on furnishings and materials in our homes.
Does that mean we should be buying up all of the supplements and superfoods and products with “detox” slapped on the label? Probably not — chances are, many of them are mostly hype.
That being said, there are some very simple, natural, and effective ways to give your body’s detox pathways an extra boost. We’ll look at how to support these pathways in the next blog post in this series: How to Detox Safely and Naturally (coming very soon!).