Detox diets: do you really need them?

Detox or detoxification diets are all the craze right now ranging from consuming only water, fruits and vegetables for a few days to drinking only juices for a week or two to ingesting pills, powders and supplements to undergoing colonic cleansing and enemas.

What’s the claim?

Cleanses and detox diets claim that they can rid your body of toxins and chemicals, make you feel more energetic and healthy, help you lose weight and even cure or prevent diseases. Proponents of these diets say that they experience fewer headaches, feel lighter and less bloated and have better complexion.

What’s the truth?

  • Our body is totally capable of ridding itself from toxins through its immune system and various organs such as the skin, lungs, intestines, liver and kidneys.
  • These diets are usually very low in calories ranging from 500 to 1,000 calories which will surely make you lose weight. However, the weight lost is water weight and if the cleanse lasts for a longer period of time, muscle mass is going to be lost next. Moreover, as the body is getting fewer calories than it needs, it goes into starvation mode where it starts conserving calories and slowing down the metabolism. This will not only make you regain the weight pretty fast as soon as you stop the cleanse, it will make it even harder for you to lose weight later on.
  • Cleanses are usually very low in nutrients as they eliminate entire food groups including protein and fat. Without enough protein, your body cannot build new tissues and without the fat you’ll be missing on important fat-soluble vitamins. Your hair and your skin won’t be glowing and your energy levels won’t be as high a few days later. They provide, however, plenty of vitamins and minerals from all the fruits and vegetables that you are consuming.
  • If the cleanse consists of juices only, you’ll also be missing on the fiber. Without the fiber, protein and fat, you’ll feel less satiated and again lacking in energy after a few days.
  •  There is no scientific evidence to date that detox diets are needed and curative. On the other hand, they can be even dangerous for some people. Diabetics, people with kidney disease, and those who are immuno-compromised including pregnant ladies, the elderly, children and people with cancer should never attempt these diets. For diabetics, the high sugar consumption will cause the blood sugar to rise dangerously causing blurry vision, fatigue and slower wound healing. For those suffering from kidney disease the potassium and minerals from all the juices can build up to hazardous levels. For those undergoing chemotherapy, the low or non-existent levels of protein is dangerous.
  • Like all fad diets, the lack of scientific evidence is compensated by testimonials and people who swear by the diet from personal experience. Even more than that, the creators and marketers of the diet claim that they and only they have the “secret magic” formula. They charge you to get their meal plan, recipes, products, juices, pills, and supplements. Don’t fall for it! If it’s too good to be true, then it most probably is!!

Bottom line!

Going on a cleanse for a couple of days if you are healthy doesn’t seem to cause any damage if you need to challenge yourself or jumpstart clean eating habits but don’t do it for more than that. A glass of fresh juice as part of a healthy diet can do you good especially if you are not consuming whole fruits and vegetables regularly.

The best “cleansing” diets are those that can last a lifetime. They are based on healthy eating habits and include lean proteins, some fat, healthy grains, fruits and vegetables.

22 thoughts on “Detox diets: do you really need them?

    • don’t need them ;) as long as we’re having healthy balanced meals from all food groups and reducing consumption of refined sugars, caffeine and alcohol our bodies will take care of the rest. certainly don’t wanna use cleanses as excuses to binge and overeat during holidays! With all the delicious healthy recipes you prepare, i’m sure you don’t need to think of cleanses :)

  1. Great explaination. I dont believe in a detox diet to substitute normal food. But taken as a supplement, detoxing agents can definately enhance the cleansing of the body, especially since most of our food nowdays doesnt provide us with the proper nutrients in the proper amount, and in the absence of these the body has loose out on its capacity to function normally. good post

    • Thank you :) I guess the detoxing agents you are referring to are the antioxidants and phytochemicals found naturally in certain “super” foods. if we regularly consume a wide range of fruits of vegetables and proteins from different sources ( legumes, beans, fish,….),…. and reduce consumption of highly processed foods our body will have the means to renew and detox on its own….

    • Thank you. Occasional weekend detoxes don’t seem to harm healthy people. People have been fasting for ages for spiritual and religious reasons, but we don’t actually need them in the sense that is being promoted nowadays.

  2. So true…my husband tried one of the detox diets and lost a ton of weight really quickly. Unfortunately once he started eating normally he gained it all back and more. Now his metabolism is all messed up and he just keeps gaining weight even though he eats healthy and counts calories.

    • That’s the thing with these diets, you really mess us your metabolism and it will take lots of effort and exercise to rev it back up. The first thing one professor said in dietetics school is that the body is “mean”; if you starve it, it knows many ways of getting back at you, overfeed it, and it has its ways as well. So balanced, natural (least processed) meals and exercise are the way to go.

  3. Pingback: Boost Your Energy Levels through this Detox Diet [Part 1] | nourishbodyandmind

  4. Pingback: Thinking Moderation? Think Twice!! | Health 'n' Horizons

  5. Pingback: Soul Compliance – Learning From the Body™ Lessons | Hands-of-Faith Holistic Healing Centers® Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s