With our hectic lifestyles of stress and overindulging on food and drinks, we sometimes forget about our gut health. Many people take different products to detox their bodies to get rid of the bad stuff but, an expert warns, it can be dangerous to your health and not worth the risk.
While many believe that a detox or a gut cleanse is necessary for their heath, it is not essential if you follow a consistent healthy diet, says Dr Sylvia Riedel, senior scientist at the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC). “It is not necessary for a healthy person to clean their system.”
An unhealthy diet with an oversupply of fizzy drinks, processed foods, and fatty and sugary foods, is one of the causes of bloating and an upset stomach. This is nothing a vegetables and fruit can’t fix.
“The best way to ensure intestinal health, gut health, and in general good health, is to follow a healthy diet rich in fruit and vegetables and to avoid processed and fatty and sugary convenience foods,” Riedel adds.
Your tummy has your back
According to Riedel, the body already has an excellent mechanism to remove harmful substances. Vomiting is one of the many mechanisms, which are aimed at removing potentially dangerous substances before they can be absorbed into the system (for instance alcohol intoxication).
She says the human body has a “surveillance system” that can detoxify unwanted substances which may have been ingested with food.
“The intestines also harbour trillions of mostly beneficial bacteria, which are called microbiota. These are beneficial in involuntary detox mechanisms and their balance can be disturbed through cleansing,” she adds.
There are specific whole foods that advance the detoxification of the body if you feel uncomfortable and reckon you need a cleanse. Because these foods are also good for your health, there is no harm (to your gut or colon) after consumption.
These foods include:
Dangers of detoxing
Riedel warns that frequent intake of non-medically approved substances, like the common Epsom Salts, can lead to a couple of complications. It includes dehydration, tearing of the colon, infection, abdominal pain, giddiness, nausea and vomiting. She says these can be dangerous in the presence of other underlying medical conditions, especially those of the heart and kidneys.
“The safest way to deal with chronic digestive issues such as constipation or chronic diarrhoea is to consult a medical practitioner who will make a diagnosis and propose an appropriate treatment,” she concludes.