“One Day Cleanse!”
“Three Day Sugar Detox!”
“Shrink Your Belly in 10 Days!”
“Seven Day Shape Up!”
“Lose 10 lbs in 7 Days!”
We live in a society obsessed with instant results. We want a flat belly – now. We want to fit into that slinky dress – by this weekend. We want flawless skin, shiny hair, and to drop two dress sizes – like, yesterday. Designers of commercial detox programs know that and are all too happy to oblige. They promise us smashing results in a week, and then swim in our money just like Scrooge McDuck.
As we’ve noted throughout this series, though, seeing results is not at all necessarily an indication of real detox. But does that mean that all short-term detox programs are bunk? How long does a detox actually have to be to work?
I wish I could map you out an awesome little chart with beautiful and concise answers to that, but I can’t. (You knew that was coming, right?) Our bodies are complex, and how quickly we are able to safely and effectively detoxify is determined by the intricate interactions of a multitude of factors. That said, there are still some pretty solid guidelines that we can apply to set reasonable expectations and evaluate the claims of various detox programs.
- Co-morbid conditions = longer detox times. If you’re pretty healthy to begin with, then you may find that it isn’t all that hard to flush some recent junk from your system simply by loading up on nutrients and dialing back stressor/toxin exposure. But if you’re struggling with diabetes, thyroid issues, auto-immune disease, or other conditions that interfere with your body’s daily functioning, you should automatically expect that safe and effective detox is probably going to be a slow process for you.
- Disordered gut bacteria and yeast overgrowth are rarely corrected quickly. Again, these are issues in which there are typically both long term damage and co-morbid conditions (disregulated blood sugar, etc.) that need to be addressed in order to fully and appropriately detox. Give yourself the time to do it right!
- Programs or practices promising “instant” results should be viewed skeptically. We talked about this before (here and here). You can force weight and inches off but it’s not the same, and it usually does more harm than good in the long term.
- Take detox claims with a pinch of (sea) salt. It’s important to understand that even on reliable sites sharing genuinely safe and health-promoting practices, detox and lifestyle options are often shown alongside a long list of the miraculous things they will do for you. While the list is almost always true, those results aren’t usually direct or immediate. Removing excess toxins from your body will directly contribute to and promote dozens of positive health effects, but you’re not going to see all of them, and definitely not immediately!
Unless you’re already strong, health, and maintaining a diet and lifestyle that minimize toxic build up, the only genuinely effective short-term detoxes you should expect to see are localized and specific. Detox face masks are the perfect example of this; they are inherently narrow in scope and application, and therefore able to safely and effectively live up to their promised results. Larger-scale, full body detoxes, or any detox intended to impact your weight or seriously detox specific organs simply must take longer by design. That’s why it’s so important to work on sustainable lifestyle choices that help us stay healthy rather than relying on periodic detoxes to manage our toxic burdens!
Have you tried any “get detoxed quick” schemes? How did it turn out?