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You’ve likely heard about them – detox diets. They may be trendy, but there is little proof that detox diets get rid of toxins from your body. Specific detox diets differ, but most often a period of fasting is followed by a strict diet of raw veggies, fruit and fruit juices, and water. Also, some detox diets advocate using herbs and other supplements along with colon cleansing (enemas) to clear the intestines.
According to WebMD’s Chief Medical Director Michael W. Smith, M.D., “If your goal is weight loss, a detox diet might help you drop a few pounds, but you’ll likely just gain it back. In the end, you haven’t accomplished anything.”
So why are these diets so popular? What are the pros and cons to this type of diet versus others?
Many of us eat too much junk food, so if following some of the healthier eating habits in a “detox food plan” helps you choose healthier food, go for it. Also, there’s nothing wrong with healthy shakes or juicing as part of your daily diet. You’ll get more vitamins and less junk in a healthy smoothie or shake than what you’ll get at a drive-thru breakfast.
Aside from the hit to your bank account, most health experts argue there is no need to detox, because your liver and kidneys are made for the job. Also, if you are doing a “juice cleanse” you’re drinking all your calories, which actually slows your metabolism. You might lose a lot of weight in the beginning but are likely to gain it back when you go back to eating regularly.
Very low-calorie diets - liquid or solid - could cause harm, especially for diabetics. Some types of detoxing can cause headaches, faintness, lethargy and dangerously low blood sugar levels. Detoxing could also serve as a trigger for people who may be prone to eating disorders.
Your best plan? Eat healthy, whole foods; drink pure, clean water; and lead an active lifestyle. Speak with your doctor or dietitian and do some research on your own to find out more about detoxification. You don’t want to end up less healthy than when you started.
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Originally published October 8, 2015
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