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Detox: Should You?


Detox diets can give people a false sense of security, a feeling that they are being protective of their health, but then they tend to just go back to their usual way of eating. When people get to the stage of wanting to ‘detox,’ they are usually willing to participate in extreme measures, or find a quick fix, in order to feel more energetic or thinner. This extreme behaviour is generally unsustainable and bad habits come sneaking back in, and often in an exaggerated way because you are starving and you feel low. This ‘binging’ behaviour can then actually cause more damage in the long run.

People don’t always realise that the body already has multiple systems in place, including the liver, kidneys and gastrointestinal tract, that do a perfectly good job of eliminating toxins from the body within hours of consumption. By just adopting a healthy eating plan, one actually causes a natural detox, but in a much safer way. Now let’s explore some commonly asked detoxing questions.

Is it healthy to detox?
It all depends what you call a detox. A healthy eating plan, cutting out stimulants like caffeine, sugar and things like salt, artificial products and heavy fatty foods, but not eliminating entire food groups, would be a very positive change and promote health. Extreme changes in diet, like just eating one food group, can be very limited in essential nutrients, which could be damaging.

Does fasting clean the body of toxins?
Your liver and kidneys detox your body constantly. Fasting doesn't do that; on the contrary, ketones build up when carbohydrates aren't available for energy.

Do things like enemas, ‘flushing’ and detoxing help with losing weight?
There is no credible scientific evidence proving enemas, ‘flushing’ and detoxing the liver and lymphatic system result in weight-loss. There is also no scientific evidence that there is even a need to ‘flush’ the liver, much less any benefit from doing so. Like other fad diets, detox regimens promise quick weight-losses that are ultimately unsustainable.

How come people say they feel better when detoxing?
Detox dieters may report a variety of benefits, but none can be traced to the idea of detoxification. Fewer headaches can be traced to other lifestyle changes such as reduction in alcohol and caffeine intake. Clearer skin can result from improved hydration, and less bloating could be a result of eating less food. Some detox dieters report a boost in energy and even a sense of euphoria. This feeling, also commonly reported by people who are fasting, is actually a reaction to starvation. It likely evolved as a way to help a person evade threats and locate food.

Finally, the burning question remains whether there is anything positive about detoxing? Well, there is something to be gained from avoiding large quantities of alcohol, junk food, smoke or anything to excess. Always remember, moderation is best, but these regimens are anything but moderate. You can achieve the same beneficial effect by following a healthy eating plan, exercising and drinking plenty of water!