The pros and Cons of Detox Diets

The pros and Cons of Detox Diets

Detox diets are popular dieting strategies that claim to facilitate toxin elimination and weight loss, thereby promoting health and well-being. However, it is not entirely clear how they do this, what they’re supposed to eliminate and if they actually work. For this reason, this article will give a review of detox diets and their health effects.

What is a Detox?

First of all, “Detoxification” in medical terms isn’t synonymous with popular cleanses, juice fasts, or water fasts. In the medical setting, real detoxification refers to treatment for dangerous levels of drugs, alcohol, or poisons (e.g. heavy metals) and is provided in the hospital. In more general terms, detoxification is a natural process by which the human body rids itself of xenobiotics and endotoxins. Primary it is biochemical process that converts non–water-soluble toxic compounds into water-soluble compounds that can be eliminated through urine, sweat, bile, or feces.

Several systems are involved in the body´s owns natural detox process, for example: the digestive systems play an important role not just in digesting food, but also in our immune system as well as delivering nutrients to our bloodstream.

The liver helps our body to metabolize nutrients, eliminate harmful chemicals, heavy metals, alcohol, and drugs. It helps to convert metabolites into “safe” by-products that can then be filtered out through our kidneys. The liver also helps to break down fats and filter blood and plays a vital role in carbohydrate (i.e. keeping our blood sugars stabilized) and fat metabolism.

Our kidneys are incredibly important and efficient filters that eliminates toxins.

Which Toxins are Eliminated?

Detox diets rarely identify the specific toxins they aim to remove or how exactly they eliminate them. In fact, there is little evidence that detox diets actually remove any “toxins” from your body and the handful of studies that have been published suffer from significant limitations.

Do Detox Diets Work?

Some people report feeling more focused and energetic during and after detox diets. It may be due in part to the fact that a detox diet eliminates highly processed foods that have solid fats and added sugar. Simply avoiding these high-calorie low-nutrition foods for a few days may be part of why people feel better.

On the other hand, many people also report feeling very unwell during the detox period. The main health risks of detox diets relate to severe energy restriction and nutritional inadequacy.

Bottom line:

If you're considering a detox diet, get the OK from your doctor first. It's also important to consider possible side effects. Detox diets that severely limit protein or that require fasting, for example, can result in fatigue. Long-term fasting can result in vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

Several aspects of detox diets are generally linked with improved health. These include avoiding environmental toxins, exercising, eating nutritious food, drinking water, limiting stress and relaxing.
Following these guidelines is generally linked with improved health, no matter whether they involve a detox or not.

The ultimate lifestyle ‘detox’ is not smoking, exercising and enjoying a healthy balanced diet.

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Sources:

(1) Anzenbacher P et al . Cytochromes P450 and metabolism of xenobiotics. Cell Mol Life Sci, 2001
(2) Klein et al. Detox diets for toxin elimination and weight management: a critical review of the evidence J Hum Nutr Diet. 2015 Dec;28(6):675-86.
(3) Sears et al . Environmental Determinants of Chronic Disease and Medical Approaches: Recognition, Avoidance, Supportive Therapy, and Detoxification Journal of Environmental and Public Health Volume 2012 (2012).

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