Detox diets are common with people trying to “cleanse” their bodies of toxins accumulated from food, drink, the environment and even stress. These diets promise to boost energy, help you lose weight, clarify the skin, reduce headaches and decrease bloating.
While there is no standard definition of a detox, most begin with restriction of processed foods, meat, sugar, wheat, eggs, salt, caffeine, alcohol and nicotine. It is recommended to consume only liquids for the first few days after which time, raw vegetables and grains other than those containing gluten are introduced. Eventually lean meats and healthy fats can be eaten.
Some detoxes call for supplements including laxatives and herbal products in addition to probiotics, antioxidants and even colonics.
The organs responsible for detoxifying the body are the liver and the kidneys and they appear to do a good job of this. It is only speculation that the body requires assistance with this process. There is no research that I know of that suggests the need for additional cleansing of the body from toxic substances. Nor are there studies confirming the efficacy of the detox diet.
Furthermore there is potential for these diets to be harmful, especially if coupled with laxatives and colonics. They can leave the body dehydrated, nutrient-depleted and out of proper metabolic homeostasis. These diets can lead to cramping, fainting,and loss of lean muscle and can hinder the metabolism.
There are countless people though who would give personal accounts of the benefits of the detox diet. It is possible these effects can be attributed to many things other than detoxification. Increased water intake, decreased overall food consumption including chemicals from processed foods and salt and sugar, elimination of drugs and just eating a higher concentration of nutrient-dense foods. These concepts are in line with a healthy diet and that would explain why so many people have felt better after taking part in a cleanse.
– Gary Fuschini