Every day we’re exposed to thousands of chemicals. Perfumes, cleaning products, plastics (1,2), smoke, cosmetics, construction material, unhealthy food – to name just a few.
Of course, these products are part of modern living. However, many of these chemicals can also be labelled as toxins. While we can’t avoid these toxins, we can defend against them. Detox (short for detoxication or detoxification) is a popular method. It’s the process of removing toxic substances from your body through natural bodily functions or through a specific diet that includes detox tea or green tea detox.
An ongoing unhealthy and imbalanced modern lifestyle can cause a build-up – or overload – of toxins in our body. We may feel it when we start losing our efficiency to work effectively. Not all the symptoms have one single cause, but a body with too many toxins is likely to experience these sorts of effects: (8/9)
- Minor symptoms such as fatigue, allergies, excessive urination, sore throat, or muscle aches
- Major symptoms such as obesity, weight loss problems, or vascular disease
Don’t our bodies already detox on their own?
Yes, to an extent.
The most prominent detoxifier is our liver (1). This removes both endogenous (internal) and exogenous (external) toxins from our bodies.
The skin is another major organ of detoxification (7). Through simple perspiration we flush toxic compounds from our body.
Why it’s so important to detox
Our natural detox systems can only handle so many toxins. Nowadays, we’re taking in toxins faster than we can eliminate them.
The good news is that you can help your body and support its natural detox process:
- Limit your toxic intake
Be aware of products containing toxins, and avoid consuming or coming into contact with them as much as possible.
- Enhance the process of natural detoxification
This can be through the intake of healthy nutritious food, superfoods, detox drinks, or natural snacks.
A great example of natural detoxication is a (dry or wet) sauna or exercise. The stimulation of perspiration here is an excellent way to enhance or increase your detoxification. (14/15)
Plenty of studies have shown the impact of diet and dietary supplements. These can greatly help reduce damage associated with exposure to toxins. (3/4/5)
While the intake of detox supplements or drinks is beneficial, it’s not a silver bullet. Other factors such as stress, inactive lifestyle, diet, poverty, alcohol and tobacco consumption (6) all have a significant impact. Ultimately, a balanced healthy lifestyle involves a long-term approach rather than a quick fix.
How does a detox work?
Our body contains certain oxygen-containing molecules with an uneven number of electrons. These molecules are called free radicals, and are highly reactive to other molecules. In turn, they cause a chain chemical reaction called oxidation. This causes damage to our body’s healthy cells (10).
A detox drink contains antioxidants that help prevent this chain reaction. This protects our body’s healthy cells. Moreover, studies show that detox drinks improve the function of the liver in our bodies. Because the liver is responsible for removing toxins from the body, detox drinks help to supercharge the fight against these toxins. (5)
What are the benefits of detox drinks?
Check out some of the ways a detox drink helps you:
- Improve liver function and digestive system
- Reduce inflammation to protect against chronic diseases
- Keep skin younger by reducing inflammation and removing toxins from our body
- Boost energy by minimising any toxic overload in the body
There are several types of detox drinks that we can benefit from.
Green tea detox
Green tea contains antioxidants called polyphenols. By reducing the process of oxidation, this helps prevent free radicals damaging our body cells.
A few cups of green tea added into our daily routine can improve our immune function, boost our energy, and increase our fat burning process (11).
Matcha green tea detox
Matcha contains chlorophyll, vitamin C, fibre, and caffeine. Chlorophyll, a natural green pigment found in leaves, helps us remove heavy metals and toxin secretion by enhancing the function of our liver (16).
Matcha green tea is grown under a shaded environment. This results into a higher level of chlorophyll development when compared to regular green tea or other types of tea.
This is why we conclude that matcha makes a superior detox comparing to green tea.
The market is flooded with various commercial herbal detox products, with some claiming they can help with weight loss. Despite the lack of medical evidence, they remain popular (particularly among celebrities). The most popular products are probably Yogi Detox Tea and Lipton Detox Tea.
Let’s have a look at their ingredients:
- Lipton Detox tea: Dandelion, nettle, grapefruit peels, echinacea purpurea, rosemary leaves, green tea leaves, liquorice root, roasted chicory root
- Yogi Detox tea: Indian sarsaparilla root, cinnamon bark, ginger root, liquorice root, burdock root, dandelion root, cardamom, clove bud, black pepper, juniper berry extract, rhubarb root, Chinese skullcap root, coptis root, forsythia fruit, gardenia fruit
According to both vendors’ websites, statements around the effects of their products for detox have “not been evaluated by the FDA” (the US Food & Drug Administration).
To be fair, the ingredients used have all been proven to help with anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial properties, digestion stimulation, or can be used to treat kidney and liver problems. (12/13)
It’s clear that herbal detox teas or herbal detox drinks are useful to a certain extent. Regarding their detoxification capabilities, for now we suggest staying sceptical.
Cleanse vs detox
When talking about detox, you may come across another term: “cleanse”. While this is often referred to alongside detox, there are slight differences:
- Cleansing is a diet plan focused on improving our digestion. It’s a short-term process, carried out for day-to-day cleansing of our digestive tract.
- Detox, on the other hand, is a long-term process. Where loads of toxins are removed by you taking nutrient-rich detox drinks and following a healthy diet. The goal is to enable your kidney and liver to function more efficiently, resulting in better overall health.
Does a detox diet help with weight loss?
The answer is neither a straight “No” nor a definite “Yes”.
It will help if you plan to lose weight with a detox routine, and also change your diet and follow an exercise routine. Of course, this then becomes more a detox lifestyle you adopt. And that’s something that will help the process of weight loss on an ongoing basis.