Lately many articles have pop-up about detoxing your body after the holidays. Yes, we might have had a few glasses too much to drink, we probably ate more than we should have and most likely also didn’t eat as healthy as we normally do. But does this really mean our bodies are filled with toxins we need to get rid of?
What is a “detox diet” or “cleanse”?
There is not just one type of “detox diet” it comes in different varieties. A few examples are:
- Fasting for 1-3 days, meaning simply not eating at all.
- Juice cleanse: A diet of only water and juices. These kinds of diets recommend drinking juice every 2-2.5 hours for 2-7 days. The idea is to give your digesting system a rest.
- Smoothie detox: Same as the juice cleanse, but with smoothies instead of juice.
- Sugar detox: These detox diet last about 7-28 days. The aim is to remove simple sugars from the menu.
Does your body really keep toxins?
Depends of what you mean by toxins. If something really toxic enters your body, it’s better to go immediately to the E.R. than to try to get rid of it with a diet. Whether a substance is toxic or not depends largely on its concentration in the body. Believe it or not, even water in too large amounts is toxic and can even kill you.
Do I really need to detox once in a while?
No, not really. Our body has a built-in cleaning mechanism in place and cleanses itself mainly through the liver and kidneys. You can support these mechanisms by eating healthy and making sure you get a variety of vitamins.
There are some supplements on the market claiming to detox your body, but none of them could tell what exactly they are eliminating, let alone provide evidence of efficiency (and safety).
So why did my friend told me it really helped?
- A lot of the detox diets promote consuming more fruits and vegetables, and thus more Depending on your regular diet it is possible that you were lacking some. If the detox diet solved your deficiencies you are likely to feel better.
- People who try to make a change in their normal diet become more aware of what they eat and tend to make better food choices. This is especially true for detox diets like sugar detox or any other diet where you eliminate one or more nutrients.
- Detox diets are often low in calories, therefore you are likely to lose weight. If you’re a bit overweight, losing weight will make you feel fitter.
- And then there is of course the placebo effect if you think it works you’re more likely to feel the difference.
If you want to try a detox diet, pay attention to the following points:
- A lot of detox diets are very low in calories. You might think that this is great for weight loss, but you’re very likely to lose a lot of muscle mass and not that much fat mass. If you do want to try this weight loss shortcut, make sure there is at least enough protein in the diet, this way muscle mass loss can be reduced.
- These diets are not making sustainable changes. As soon as you stop the diet and go back to the same old eating habits you were used to, the effects of the diet will wear off and soon you will be back on square one. Remember that your old habits got you to the situation you are today. You can do all the cleaning and detoxing you want, if you don’t change your habits what you achieved will not last for long.
- Be wary of detox diets that force you to buy specific products. You might end up wasting a lot of money over nothing.
- If it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t. Detox diet that promises super-fast awesome results are fishy. Don’t fall in their trap.