Detox and cleansing are often used interchangeably in the sphere of wellness and health. A quick online search yields an overwhelming amount of content, making it more difficult to tell the difference between the two. So, what is the difference between the two?
Toxins and Detox
The main goal of detoxification is to help the body get rid of toxins. Dr. Don Smith, a professor at UC Santa Cruz, characterizes these poisons in their school’s Microbiology and Environmental Toxicology page as those which “cause or contribute to the development of human diseases.”
At present, there are more than 600 identified toxins and this list grows longer each year. Some of the most commonly known poisons include mercury, lead, BPA (bisphenol A), and parabens. Toxins tend to accumulate in the body and when they do, you can experience the following symptoms:
Our bodies naturally detoxify through our liver and kidney. That’s why most detoxifying programs and aids, like supplements and shakes, aim to keep these organs healthy and help them carry-out their tasks.
If detoxification helps the liver and kidneys remove toxins, a cleanse helps the body’s digestive tract or gut get rid of harmful substances in our bodies – including toxins, undigested food, and even parasites. Like detox, there are numerous supplements and diet systems sold to help purify the body. An interesting but popular cleansing method involves ingesting a mix made of psyllium husk and bentonite clay. Another popular cleansing method is colon flushing.
The Big Difference
The biggest difference between a cleanse and detox is the length of time involved. A cleanse is abrupt, drastic, and usually lasts for a few days only. You cut out some items from your diet like dairy, meat, processed foods, alcohol, and sugar. Once your gut is clean, you can reintegrate all the food items cut-off from your diet slowly.
Detoxification also involves a similarly short period of drastic diet change but in the long-run you are expected to commit to a lifestyle change. You switch your latte for green tea or plain black coffee. You switch processed foods for organic. You cut out refined sugar and reduce sodium intake. You pretty much remove everything that taxes your liver and kidney and add those which help keep them healthy.
The Big Positive
You might probably wonder why some bother with a detox or cleanse if they’re that difficult. The answer is both are effective and established means to restore balance to your health. If you look at the diseases we have right now, most arise because the body has an imbalance of something – it produces too little or too much of a hormone, it lacks a clotting agent or dead cells are not eliminated as intended and in fact, starts multiplying. A detox and cleanse cannot prevent or treat diseases as is, but if we integrate them into our lifestyle, they help strengthen our internal system and gives our bodies a better fighting chance.