DO DETOX DIETS DELIVER?!

Dietitian’s View Behind “Assisting” our Bodies with a Natural Process.

The idea behind ‘detoxing’ is to encourage your body to “cleanse” itself of chemicals and toxic by-products alleged to accumulate in the tissues as a consequence of stress, poor dietary habits, pollution, cigarettes, drugs, alcohol, late nights and lack of exercise.  Detox diets typically promise to aid in weight loss, improve digestion; improve hair, nails and skin; improve energy levels; boost immune system and rid your body of cellulite.

Our bodies are so perfectly created that it is capable of getting rid of toxins through the function of the liver, gut, skin, and kidneys.  Our liver acts as a power house in terms of detoxifying drugs, chemicals, alcohol, and other toxins.  If harmful chemicals do enter the body, the liver breaks them down combining them with its own chemicals to make a water-soluble compound that can be excreted by the kidneys. The body is re-hydrated with water and is refreshed with a plenty of sleep!  When the liver detoxifies chemicals, it has to do a series of chemical reactions that require co-factors (aka, vitamins) to proceed. If your diet is devoid of these vitamins, the reactions will stall

At this time, there is no scientific evidence to support the effects of detox diets aimed at cleansing your bowels and helping you lose weight. The benefits most people claim to feel are usually due to changing poor health decisions they have been making in the past, ie: excessive alcohol consumption, excessive sugar intake, high calorie, low nutrient level foods,  lack of water intake or sleep.  Starvation or restriction will cause the body to begin building up chemicals called ketones.  Due to ketone build-up, one may feel nauseated, dehydrated, weak, light-headed and irritable.  If rapid weight loss occurs, it will be due to a loss of water, glycogen (carbohydrate stores) and muscle, rather than fat.

Fresh Produce
The greatest benefit of “detoxing” is the decreasing you’re your intake of caffeine, alcohol and high-fat, high-sugar, processed foods. For example, by increasing your water intake to at least the minimum of 64 ounces per day, increasing antioxidant intake by consuming 5-9 servings of fruit and vegetables, and increasing fiber intake to at least 25 grams per day, you could reduce frequency of headaches and/or improve your skin’s appearance.  It is pertinent that you follow a plan that does not instruct you to cut out specific food groups because you will be putting yourself at risk to be deficient in vitamins and minerals that your body needs to function at its best.

The best approach is a balanced diet of whole grains, fruits/vegetables, lean meats/fish/poultry, low-fat dairy products, consuming adequate amounts of water, consuming products free from pesticides, artificial flavors, color agents, and preservatives, and making time to get plenty of sleep!  To improve your overall diet and kick-start a healthy plan, try making your own food to reduce the number of “weird” ingredients that you can’t pronounce, buy the “Dirty Dozen” organic foods (apples, cherries, grapes, nectarines, peaches, pears, raspberries,  strawberries, bell peppers, celery, potatoes, and spinach) avoid canned foods to help limit salt, and limit or eliminate alcohol consumption.

Disclaimer:

This is not a recommendation for anyone to begin or implement a detox plan. Consult with a physician or registered dietitian before you follow such a plan, especially if you have a medical condition that needs close follow-up.

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