After weeks of overeating during the holidays, many people are now looking to reel in their nutrition. A popular strategy: cleanses and detox diets. The types of detoxes and cleanses available on the market are exhaustive. Some have you cut out certain foods like dairy, gluten or red meat, while others have you drink a special concoction for a period of time. Both claim to improve health by cleansing the bowels and removing toxins from the body that have accumulated due to unhealthy eating habits.
The dieting industry is making millions by telling you that your body is full of toxins and needs to be “cleansed.” However, there is no evidence to support detoxing or cleansing diets, and in fact, they can actually be harmful to your health. Our bodies have been beautifully designed to detox without the aid of a special diet. Our intestines, lungs, liver and kidneys effectively detoxify for us around the clock. For instance, our liver removes waste from the bloodstream and transfers it to the kidneys to dispose of toxins in our urine.
The weight loss promised by most detox diets can be especially damaging to long-term efforts. Due to severe calorie restriction, most weight loss during the detox will be gained back, plus a little more. Additionally, a lot of the weight loss is water and not body fat. Going on a strict detox diet can lower your metabolic rate and cause loss of muscle mass, which makes it harder to lose weight long term. Not to mention that most detoxes and cleanses will not provide you with enough protein, essential fatty acids or micronutrients.
My advice, save your money rather than wasting it on a fancy detox diet or cleanse. Eating a consistently healthy diet is truly the best “cleanse”. Focus on drinking adequate water and consuming a diet rich in high fibre foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains. Instead of yet again trying another short-term diet plan or quick fix strategy, make this the year that you are committed to life-long lifestyle changes.