Detoxing, Cleansing, Fasting: What’s The Difference ?
Aim and Benefits
- These things are really variations on a theme. In broad terms the aim with each is to support your body in it’s elimination of heavy metals and other toxins. This sounds simple but the process is remarkable in it’s ability to prevent and reverse chronic disease.
Let’s Deal With Definitions
As I see it, detoxing and cleansing are the same thing. Detoxing just sounds a little trendier.
The term detoxing has become so common place that it’s often not clear what is being discussed. I have friends (no names, you know who you are) who have told me they are detoxing and then, what they eat between the hours of 7 am and 4pm looks like what you would expect but after that, it all kind of falls apart.
Just for the record whilst Intermittent Fasting works for some people, Intermittent Detoxing will do diddly squat.
If you are serious about detoxing, or cleansing, the process needs to be done over a period of days not hours and ideally over a period of 2 or 3 weeks.
What’s the point?
On more than one occasion, It has been suggested to me by sceptics, that detoxes are pointless because “a healthy body knows how to detox.”
This is perfectly true a healthy body does know how to detox.
The problem is two fold.
- How many of us can say we have truly healthy bodies ? and
- Your body might know how to detox but if all you are doing is filling it with caffeine, alcohol and nicotine, it’s going to have a hard job putting that knowledge into practise.
A detox, or a cleanse, is simply a period where you consume a disproportionately large quantity of food which will assist your body eliminate (detoxification) whilst at the same time minimising the input of substances (aforementioned) which give it a hard time.
All of this can be done with food, provided of course that it’s best quality (organic) food. Many detoxes advocate additional cleansing agents and practices (clays, flushes and enemas). Precisely what is recommended is gong to vary depending on personal preferences and requirements.
I still believe I’ve experienced the best detox in the world. I spent 9 weeks at the Hippocrates Health Institute in Florida. If you would like my free outline of the programme where I share the exact steps and share insider recipes CLICK HERE to access the programme for FREE. If you wanted to attend a 3 week in person version of the programme it would cost around $3,500.
No surprises here fasting is going without food.
Aims and Benefit
You might guess my bias. I admit it, I am slightly more sceptical about fasting. That being said there are some very specific documented benefits:
- Increased insulin sensitivity
- Improved mental clarity and mood (because of increased dopamine production) and
- Enhanced growth hormone secretion (which builds muscle and burns fat).
- Increased neuronal plasticity
- Enhanced energy.
So Types of Fasting:
This is a fast because there is no solid food. If you juice large quantities of veg then your nutrient quota is potentially huge. If you put much fruit in there, what you are giving yourself is more or less just sugar.
Just keeping it real!
Smoothies are slightly different because the fibre remains, It’s more like food, so in my book, if you are having smoothies, you are cleansing not fasting.
Many people swear by water fasting. This involves going for long periods without food whilst at the same time consuming water (sometimes coconut water) and cleansing aids (clays, anti parasitic herbs etc). I’ve done this once just to try it. I didn’t feel good at the end of it which was probably due to the state of my adrenals. For people who have or suspect they may have Adrenal Fatigue (look at your sleep patterns and or have your cortisol levels checked) fasting for prolonged periods can throw you for a loop.
Intermittent fasting is said to bring with it the benefits of fasting but as is implied, you are not fasting for prolonged periods. Some intermittent fasters fast one a week, some every other day and some daily, for lengthy periods.
I haven’t had a great outcome with fasting for days at a time. The standard way to do an Intermittent Fast is to eat within an 8 hour window. I have tried this and I found that the best time for me to eat was between the hours of 8 am and 4pm. I’ll tell you what I found later.
Intermittent Fasting, Adrenal Fatigue and Haschimotos
Although Intermittent Fasting is said to assist stabilise cortisol levels and build a healthy immune system, if your immune system is already compromised, as mine is, you might experience problems. I have Haschimoto’s which is an autoimmune condition of the thyroid. I also suffer from Adrenal Fatigue. My guess is the that the former preceded the latter. It seems that Intermittent Fasting may throw off cortisol levels for those who already have compromised Adrenals.
One way to gauge how stable your cortisol levels is by looking at your sleeping patterns. If your sleep is disrupted (e.g. waking at 2 and 3 in the morning), you may have problems with cortisol stability and Intermittent Fasting should be limited.
In fact, this is what happened to me when I tried Intermittent Fasting. I don’t normally experience sleep disruption but after 5 days of Intermittent Fasting I started waking at 3 am. I reduced the fasting period to 14 hours and the problem resolved.
My experiment with Intermittent Fasting was interesting but on balance I think it’s more important for me to do a seasonal detox that simply focuses on eliminating as much unhelpful food and including as much helpful food as possible (chlorella, wheatgrass, milk thistle etc).
Do you have Hashimoto’s or Adrenal Fatigue? I’d love to hear what type of detox worked best for you.