Flushing out the detox myths

The Gwyneth Paltrow detox, the Martha’s Vineyard detox, the Master Cleanse…do these sound familiar? It’s hard not to recognize these types of  “diets”, since the detox diet craze has made its way into mainstream media, thanks in part, to celebrity endorsements.

But what really is a detox diet and do the claims actually live up to the hype? With a quick Google search, you’ll find detox diets are the, “magic cure”, to ridding your body of toxins and the best thing since sliced bread to help you shed some weight. But you often have to eliminate foods or whole food groups or drink a juice/water/spice/herb concoction. Sounds tasty, doesn’t it? Dig a little deeper though, and you will see that many of the claims are baseless and lack scientific evidence. In fact, take a look through medical research and you will have a hard time finding any valid support for these types of diets.

According to Harvard Medical School, there is no evidence in medical research to show that detox diets are effective for weight loss or removing toxins. Of course weight loss is likely to happen because you eliminate foods and your calorie intake is reduced, but as Harvard Medical school explains, you will probably regain the weight you lost when you return to your regular eating habits because that initial weight loss was from water and not fat.

Some people feel they have a surge of energy when detoxing, but it may not be related to the actual diet. You probably feel better because you’ve given up the processed, packaged, and prepared foods. See how you feel when incorporating whole foods like fruits and vegetables that are jam packed with vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and antioxidants.

A concern with detox diets is the lack of nutrients that come from eliminating many foods and food groups from your diet. Following a detox diet for a long period of time can actually do more harm, than good, since your body is not getting many essential nutrients from the foods you probably have to cut out. If you are looking to flush out the toxins you can count on your body’s natural abilities. Our liver and kidneys are designed to clear our bodies of unwanted and unneeded things, so trying to be toxin-free, by way of extreme diet, isn’t doing much good.

If you are convinced a detox diet is the next step for you, consult your physician or a dietitian prior to starting, as it is important to know all the facts before you make this kind of change.

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