Does 'detoxing' work? We asked a nutritionist

Kim Pearson
·1-min read
Photo credit: Oscar Wong - Getty Images
Photo credit: Oscar Wong - Getty Images

From Runner's World

At this time of year, we read a lot about inner cleansing, but does it work and can it improve your running?

What is a detox?

Putting it simply, the process of detoxification refers to the removal of toxic substances from the body. This activity goes beyond the work of the liver; it also involves your kidneys, lungs, colon and skin. The toxins in question are potentially harmful substances that are either endogenous (produced by the body) or exogenous (made outside the body). Exposure to toxins and toxic substances can cause harm to the body through cellular and organ damage, and provide an environment in which illnesses are more likely to develop, so eliminating these substances as much as possible is advised to keep you fit and healthy.

Does detoxing work?

A lot of people refer to detoxing in the same way as they talk about crash-dieting. A week-long detox or cleanse will not magically reverse years, months or even weeks of unhealthy living (or that festive overindulgence, for that matter). If you are healthy, your body’s detoxification systems act efficiently and carry out their jobs day-to-day, whether you are ‘detoxing’ or not.

What’s the best way to detox?

There are two main ways you can support your body’s natural detoxification. Firstly, ensure you are getting enough dietary fibre, which supports healthy elimination of waste from the bowel. If you have a diet lacking in fibre and aren’t having regular bowel movements, the body may reabsorb filtered toxins. Eating a wide range of vegetables is a great way to increase your fibre intake. Secondly, drink plenty of water, to aid elimination of waste via the kidneys.

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