Detox diets: Helpful or harmful?

The idea behind a detoxification
diet is to rid the body of toxins that can build up from foods and the
environment. 

Advocates of detox, or cleansing,
diets believe that when our bodies become overloaded with these toxins this can
create imbalances in the body that can ultimately lead to weight gain,
headaches, fatigue and other health problems. 

Undergoing a detox programme means
giving up certain foods for a short period of time, including caffeine,
alcohol, and artificial sweeteners.  

While some detox programmes
encourage more fibre, fruits, vegetables, water, and nutrient and herbal
supplements, others do not require you to change your diet at all but to
instead take diuretic and laxative supplements multiple times a day.

A healthy human body is well
equipped to deal with toxic substances that can affect the skin, lungs,
kidneys, liver, and gastrointestinal tract over time, and there is no evidence
that detoxification diets speed the removal of toxins from the body. 

In general, however, people do
report improved energy, clearer skin, improved digestion, and increased mental
alertness.  Sceptics of detox programmes
argue that these effects are due to the dietary modifications rather than the
elimination of toxins from the body.

On one hand, detox diets can help
break unhealthy habits by increasing fruits and vegetables, drinking more
water, eating less junk and processed foods and consuming less alcohol and
caffeine. 

On the other hand, detox dieting
should not be misused for quick weight loss as this is not what they are
intended for.

The weight loss that occurs when
undergoing a detox programme is mainly due to the fewer calories consumed; the
weight loss is also often water weight loss which is typically regained when
the normal diet is resumed. 

Also, staying on a detox diet for
too long will run the risk of losing muscle mass which actually slows down the
metabolism, making it harder to keep the weight off.

If you decide to do a cleanse or
detox programme, do not exceed the diet’s recommended duration; think short
term. 

If you take medications or have a
health condition, it is strongly encouraged that you talk to your doctor first
before embarking on any type of detoxification programme. 

People with diabetes, hypoglycemia,
gastrointestinal disorders, lowered immunity, kidney disease or liver disease
are not advised to follow detox or cleansing programmes. 

Fruits and vegetables are brimming
with antioxidants and nutrients needed to detoxify our organs naturally. 

Keep your diet clean and aim to include a good
variety of fruits and vegetables in your daily diet.

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