In the world of health fads, “detox” is a buzzword that pops up everywhere. It also doesn’t actually mean anything. Bloggers and celebrities frequently talk about “detoxing” by undergoing juice cleanses, drinking activated charcoal, and so on, but the reality is that none of these actions truly remove toxins from the body. Why? Your body already knows how to do that.
The process is called “autophagy.” The author of Misguided Medicine, Dr. Colin Champ, says to think of it as the body’s “recycling program.” Cell membranes search for old, diseased, or dead cells and once they find some, they use what they can to make energy or new cell parts. Autophagy is necessary for the body’s ability to function properly, stop obesity and diabetes, and even prevent the growth of cancer cells.
So, if you want to “detox,” you want to boost your body’s natural autophagy. How? There are three ways: fasting, exercising, and ketosis.
Doctors have recommended fasting for thousands of years for a variety of reasons, and there’s studies that back up the benefits. Intermittent fasting can lower your risk for heart disease, diabetes, and other health problems. The autophagy is especially pronounced in the brain, meaning fasting could really help prevent neurological conditions. Before fasting, talk to your doctor. Fasting sessions usually last 12-36 hours. Be sure to stay hydrated and limit your physical activity.
When you work out, your body goes through stress. This actually damages your muscles in tiny ways. The healing process strengthens your muscles and makes them more resistant. This recycles old cells and promotes the creation of new, fresh ones. Right now, scientists don’t know exactly how much exercise you need to trigger autophagy, but the more intense the exercise, the more likely your body will start the cleansing process.
You get your body into ketosis by restricting your carb intake. Without the usual carbs for fuels, the body switches to using fat, while the liver begins to produce ketones. This also happens when you fast, but with ketosis, you get to eat. Benefits may include easier fat loss, more energy, reduced inflammation, and so on. Ketosis is also well-known as an anticonvulsant. To enter ketosis, 60-70% of your calorie intake needs to come from healthy fat with 20-30% coming from protein.