5 Things You Should Know About Detox DietsThere are a whole host of detox diets and cleanses out there that promise to stimulate your immune system, purify your body by eliminating toxins, or help you lose weight. But detoxes are not without risk. There are a few facts you should know:
1. Detox diets are not balanced diets.
Detox diets are not recommended because they are highly restrictive. They are typically limited to the following:
- Fruit juice or other liquids only
- Fruits and vegetables only, occasionally together with other complementary foods, but usually without any proteins, fats, sugar, or starchy foods
- A multi-day fast
- Natural products or foods with a purgative (faster intestinal transit; a strong laxative) or diuretic (increased urination) effect, sometimes together with the use of enemas
Detox diets may include one or more of these approaches, for example, fruit juice plus purgative or diuretic herbal teas.
2. Detox diets do not eliminate more toxins from the body.
Your kidneys, liver, lungs, and digestive system work around the clock to digest, process, and eliminate waste and other non-essential or harmful elements that you ingest or breathe in.
A detox diet will not miraculously give your body the power to eliminate more toxins. For example, after a night of drinking and/or feasting, a detox diet will not boost the functional capacity of your organs. If you have kidney or liver dysfunction, a detox diet will not be able to correct that impairment.
3. Detox diets are not a healthy way to lose weight.
Detox diets are typically extremely low in calories, which forces your body to dip into its reserves to find the energy it needs to maintain its vital functions. If the diet includes purgative or diuretic substances, any weight loss will merely be the result of a loss of water.
Once you stop the diet and return to your regular eating habits, you will very likely regain any weight you lost.
4. Detox diets can be dangerous to your health.
The low-calorie intake and water loss often associated with detox diets can cause fatigue, dehydration, and dizziness, which can result in impaired concentration and even lead to accidents.
For people with chronic diseases like diabetes, detox diets can result in loss of control of the disease and trigger serious complications.
5. Detox diets can have interactions with medication.
Detox diets often incorporate different herbal products. Some of these herbal products could interact with the medication you are on. Before considering a detox diet, it is always recommended to consult a pharmacist to ensure that your medication does not interact with the detox diet ingredients.
Eating a healthy diet year-round is better for you than frequent detox diets.
It’s better to eat healthy on a regular basis than to go on detox diets to make up for poor eating habits.
It’s also crucial to lead a healthy lifestyle: be physically active, don’t smoke, and, if you drink, do so in moderation.
If you’re tempted to do a detox, consult your pharmacist first. Depending on your goal, they can offer a solution that’s better tailored to your needs and health. For example, some pharmacies offer weight management programs or the services of a registered dietician.
For more information on healthy and balanced diets, visit Canada's Food Guide.
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* The information contained herein is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide complete information on the subject matter or to replace the advice of a health professional. This information does not constitute medical consultation, diagnosis or opinion and should not be interpreted as such. Please consult your health care provider if you have any questions about your health, medications or treatment.