Although the words “detox” and “cleanse” are popular in the natural health world, there are many misconceptions about what these words mean. Some people think that detoxing and cleansing are the same — but they are actually different processes.
Let’s look at the main differences between a detox versus a cleanse and best practices for following them.
What Is the Difference Between a Cleanse and a Detox?
Here are the main points to understand about cleansing versus detoxing:
- Detoxification is a biochemical transaction in the body.
- Cleansing is a muscular transaction in the body.
Detoxes typically focus on removing toxins to leave you feeling revitalized and refreshed. Cleanses are more about “cleansing” the digestive system's muscles.
Both detoxes and cleanses focus on healthy foods or vitamins and minerals. The nature of the detox or cleanse you choose will depend on the program you follow, the detox and cleanse supplements you take, and the food you eat (or don’t eat).
How Detoxing and Cleansing Work
Our bodies already have a natural detoxification process happening. We release toxins through four channels:
Your body strives to eliminate anything that it sees as something “alien” that disrupts the harmony. That can include additives, preservatives, and other molecular structures added to your food.
When you digest these non-food materials, they accumulate in your bloodstream. And as your body renews itself, the material it uses can come from what you’ve eaten — including those toxins.
Absorbing and Storing Toxins
If the toxins get absorbed into the cellular mitosis process, the following could happen:
- DNA damage, speeding up the aging process
- The body creates damaged proteins, which can damage the body
- The toxins lead to uncontrolled growth in the body
When the blood reaches your liver, the liver works its magic, converting toxins to liquids, gases, or solids to move them out of your body. However, items that the liver cannot quickly render harmless will become stored as fat.
So, natural detoxes and cleanses can help your body remove things that might otherwise be stored and potentially cause harm.
Extreme vs. Safe Detoxes and Cleanses
When it comes to detoxes and cleanses, there should be three goals:
- Make sure your intestinal tract is clean and functioning optimally.
- Ensure your body’s detox system works well to keep your blood clean.
- Keep your liver in great shape by avoiding things like hydrogenated fats, saturated fats, trans fats, and alcohol.
Eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, drinking lots of water, and getting enough sleep are all ways to help keep your systems well. Taking specific supplements can also help.
Now, beware: Detoxes that use harsh laxatives can do more harm than good. They overstimulate your body’s system and your muscles, exhausting them so that they might stop working as well.
Your body could become dependent on such extreme measures to the point where you need them to function correctly.
A gentle detox and cleanse system that complements an everyday healthy life is best. It should be easy to take during regular life and contain ingredients that support your body’s detoxing systems.
Cleaning Out the Intestines
The following ingredients can help keep the intestinal tract clean:
- Rice bran
- Psyllium husks
- Pumpkin seed
- Dandelion root
Supporting the Liver
Components that help support and detox the liver include:
- Milk thistle
- Dandelion root
Detoxing the Blood
Ingredients that help the bloodstream detox include:
- Yellow dock
- Red clover
- Burdock root
Optimizing Fat Metabolism
Lastly, fat metabolism is essential for detoxing. That includes:
- Vitamin B6