Detox diets are popular diets that claim to make you feel younger, healthier, and more energized. So is this something we should be doing on a regular basis? Let’s take a look
The detox and cleanse programs include fasting, drinking only juices or similar beverages, eating only certain foods, using dietary supplements or other commercial products, using herbs, cleansing the colon with enemas, and laxatives or colon hydrotherapy. When answering the question, ‘Do detox diets work?’ we need to look at what we are expecting the diets to do. Detox diets are often used to:
Detoxifying the body:
Detox diets are generally advertised and promoted as being able to remove toxins from the body. There is however very little research to suggest that detox diets and cleanses eliminate toxins from the body. What you should always keep in mind too is that our kidneys and liver work hard all day to do this exact job for us! Our kidneys and liver are highly effective at removing ingested toxins from our bodies. They do the job more efficiently when we eat more vegetables and fruit, so decreasing junk food and increasing vegetables and fruit is the best strategy to detoxify your body.
Cleansing the digestive system:
The theory behind cleanses is they cleanse the digestive tract and get rid of toxins via bowel movements. These cleanses are not only unpleasant, but they can also be dangerous. Laxatives used in some cleanses can cause diarrhea, which could result in dehydration as well as electrolyte imbalances. And the colon cleansing procedures have harmful side effects like cramping, bloating, nausea, vomiting and dehydration.
Help with weight loss:
Detox or cleanses that involve fasting or severe restriction of calories can put you in a temporary starvation mode, which will result in weight loss. It is important to remember though that the weight loss results from fewer calories being consumed during the day (there is no magic involved!) and is therefore mainly due to loss of water weight as muscle is burned to produce the required energy. This weight is therefore regained once a normal diet is resumed.
In addition to unsustainable weight loss, detox diets can also result in fatigue as well as vitamin and mineral deficiencies since certain foods or food groups are left out of the diet. One type of food does not contain all the nutrients that we need to stay healthy. This is why it is important to include a variety of foods in our diets daily. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies coupled with a lack of protein in these diets also results in a weakened immune system, putting you at increased risk of infections.
What these diets essentially do is remove highly processed foods that contain a great amount of fat and sugar. This is why some people may temporarily feel good on some detox diets and cleanses. However, detoxing from food is not necessary to achieve these results. We can get lasting results in a healthy and balanced way by reducing our intake of highly processed energy dense and nutrient poor foods, and focusing more on eating nutrient dense wholefoods which are naturally lower in calories such as fruit, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and lean sources of protein.