What is a Holistic Detox?

Allison Boelcke

A detox is a regimen intended to remove what are known as toxins, such as artificial colors and ingredients and chemicals from processed foods, from the body. If the regimen is referred to as a holistic detox, it will typically incorporate the principles of holistic medicine. Holistic medicine is an alternative form of healthcare that primarily focuses on treating the physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of a person’s well-being, rather than simply treating the symptoms of a disease. Holistic detoxes may not only involve the removal of certain foods from the diet as a means to try to improve a person physically, but will also generally call for actions that are intended to improve a person’s emotional or spiritual state.

A holistic diet may include lentils.
A holistic diet may include lentils.

One of the main components of a holistic detox is a change in diet. Although the exact eating plan may vary depending on the detox that is being followed, it will generally involve eliminating all chemicals and artificial ingredients, including caffeine, alcohol, and any processed foods, including items made with refined white flour or sugar. Many of these diets primarily consist of organic fruits and vegetables, nuts and nut butters, seeds, whole grains, and lentils. The purpose of the diet is typically to cleanse the body of toxins from preservatives, artificial colors, and other chemicals in processed foods, that that are thought to accumulate in the body and prevent the organs from functioning properly.

A holistic detox might use yoga to help ease stress.
A holistic detox might use yoga to help ease stress.

Detox diets that are not holistic in nature will generally only focus on restricting processed foods because the supporters believe it will help the body clear out any toxins from eating processed foods in the past and allow the body’s organs to function more effectively and prevent disease. These types of programs tend to operate under the purpose of mainly helping physical aspects of the body. A holistic version of the program will usually promote itself as treating mental health as well by helping a person fight emotional overeating or psychological addictions to sugar, caffeine, alcohol, or other processed foods in which some people may have a hard time controlling their intake.

A holistic detox may also focus on helping a person to change any negative behaviors or emotions that are thought to be hindering him or her emotionally or spiritually. A program may focus on regular cardiovascular exercise, yoga, or other relaxation techniques to aid a person in reducing his or her stress levels in order to promote a healthier mental state of mind. A spiritual leader may also give advice on how a participant can become more spiritual or improve any behaviors that are preventing him or her from feeling maximum levels of spirituality. This may include performing volunteer work to help others or participating in therapy sessions to learn how to overcome any underlying issues that are thought to be hindering the person’s spirituality.

Critics of the holistic detox generally believe that the body cannot be physically cleansed of toxins through diet or any other means. They tend to argue that the body’s organs are equipped to detoxify themselves on a regular basis and do not need assistance. Critics also often warn against detox programs for people with chronic health conditions because a drastic change in diet or exercise could worsen their conditions and even become fatal.

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