Chances are you've heard about detoxification in the media, in health food stores, or from people you know. "Going on detox" is all the rage. Consumers are bombarded with information and product marketing that make detoxification seem like a radical process.

Here's the truth: A healthful detox approach is neither extreme nor harsh. Ideally, detox merely optimizes working conditions for your internal systems, smoothing the way for your body to eliminate the wastes and irritants that have built up.

After a successful detox program, my patients often report
- increased energy
- greater awareness about how the body works
- a recommitment to healthful eating habits that had gone astray
- improved colon and digestive function
- easier breathing.
Many patients also gain a positive, inspiring jumpstart to their weight loss program--or move past a plateau to restart a stalled weight loss effort.

You might be wondering when is the right time to try a detox plan. I'd like to suggest today! Here are three indications that a detox program might be just what you need now.

1) Your body reacts (or overreacts) to environmental and/or food triggers.
Have you ever thought, "What is my body reacting to, and how can I help naturally?" Patients with symptoms that suggest allergies and sensitivities--these may range from respiratory and digestive problems to skin issues--often experience improvement or relief during the detox period. A plan that eliminates some of the major inflammatory or allergy-causing foods and substances--for example, dairy, wheat, and sugar--narrows down the pool of possible triggers and might even indicate whether symptoms are food-related at all.

The detox period can help patients with sensitivities in two ways. First, it provides valuable information about foods that could be causing or helping their symptoms. Second, it eliminates substances that, though they might not be triggers themselves, can throw off the body's balance during times of high environmental reactivity, such as spring and fall with their abundance of pollen.

2) You're beginning a weight loss program or experiencing a plateau.
Need a safe way to jumpstart your weight loss plans? A short-term cleanse can help to eliminate a buildup of toxins that can impede progress, while simultaneously accelerating a weight loss program.

With a balanced food-based detox plan, my patients frequently have found release from some of the patterns and go-to triggers that sabotaged their weight loss efforts in the past. These patients also report adopting better eating habits in general, such as adding unprocessed whole foods, cutting out sugary foods, and drinking more water. When you have a plan to follow, with 10 days' worth of suggested menus, recipes, and shopping lists, the process is easy and very manageable.

3) You've returned from a vacation or major social event, or you're entering a new season.
Transitions can challenge the body. Whether it's a wedding, move, vacation, divorce, or really any change, a detox is often the best way to recalibrate and prepare to move ahead.

Detoxification involves eliminating those things that don't serve us--and that doesn't just mean food. Emotions, habits, and thoughts can fall into that category. A cleanse spotlights problem areas and promotes mindfulness of choices that might be tweaked or transformed into more healthful patterns. After eating and drinking on a vacation, after social events abundant with dietary indulgences, after the summer season comes to an end--these are great times to press the "reset" button, meeting the new phase with a more healthful, grounded lifestyle.

Author's Bio: 

Roberta Roberts Mittman, L.Ac., Dipl.Ac., M.S., is a nutritional and lifestyle consultant, holistic mindset mentor, and nationally board-certified acupuncturist. Using natural, drug-free techniques, Roberta opens the door to complete mind-body health. Roberta's goal is not only to relieve patients' illness and discomfort, but to help them set realistic goals for physical and mental preventative care and overall wellness. Roberta believes in empowering individuals to be their own best healers.