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What Exactly Is A Detox—And Is It Safe?

Over the years the idea of detoxing and cleansing has become more and more popular, with almost every juice shop selling some sort of 3-day or 7-day juice cleanse. Sounds intense, right?

“Detoxing doesn’t have to be scary or drastic,” explains Megan Gilmore, the blogger behind Detoxinista.com and author of Everyday Detox and the newly released No Excuses Detox. “Making simple changes and upgrading the food you eat on a daily basis can lead to lasting and life-changing results.”

So wait, you’re telling me that a detox doesn’t involve only drinking juice or drastically changing my lifestyle? I quickly found out everything I had heard about a detox didn’t really fit into Gilmore’s explanation, so I chatted with her to find out exactly what a detox is—and isn’t.

So what exactly is a detox?

“Our body comes equipped with natural detox organs, including the skin, liver, and kidneys,” she explains. “The easiest way to ‘detox’ is by simply eating whole foods that support those organs, and avoid the ones that make them work harder—including processed foods.”

Why is a detox good for your body?

“Choosing to avoid processed foods and artificial ingredients gives your detox organs some relief, so they can effectively process the other environmental toxins we encounter every day—such as pollution, mold, phthalates, heavy metals and more.”

What are a few lies you’ve heard about detoxing that you’d like to set straight?

“I think the biggest misconception around detoxing is the idea that you need to take a certain drink or supplement to magically ‘detox’ your body, or that you can ‘detox’ a certain organ,” Gilmore shares. “When you make healthy lifestyle changes, you will help your body as a whole—but there’s no magic pill that will do the work for you.”

What is the easiest way for people to start?

I like to start by improving just one meal of the day—usually starting with breakfast. An easy way to nourish your body is by starting your day with a green smoothie, filled with fruits and leafy greens; you can’t taste spinach blended into a fruity drink at all,” she adds, chuckling. “This Blended Green Lemonade is one of my favorites.”

Gilmore adds that you can start by finding some healthy recipes—that you truly love the taste of. She recommends trying the Cauliflower Baked Ziti and Deep Dish Chocolate Cookie in her new cookbook, No Excuses Detox.

“The new book provides easy and healthy recipes for readers who are crunched for time and want to stay on budget, while also optimizing health and digestion,” she notes. “All the recipes are naturally gluten-free and are packed with nutrient-rich whole foods!”

Ashley Lauretta

Ashley Lauretta

Ashley Lauretta is the freelance web editor for Women's Running. A freelance journalist, she is the assistant editor at LAVA Magazine and has written for espnW, ELLE, Men's Journal, VICE Sports, Health and more. Find her online at ashleylauretta.com and on Twitter at @ashley_lauretta.