Detox is the buzz word today. From detox diets to digital detox vacations, everyone is talking about getting rid of unhealthy toxins from the body. While we too are in favour of detoxing, there are certain things that we want to shed some light on, especially when it comes to detox diets.
A typical detox diet involves a period of fasting, followed by an extremely strict diet of vegetables, fruits and water. This diet claims to help you rest your organs, stimulate your liver and improve circulation. These diets usually span across three to seven days.
Unfortunately, there is no research that shows that detox diet improves blood pressure or cholesterol, or even heart health. In fact, detox diets are not good for people, and for people with diabetes, it can actually be quite dangerous. Studies have shown that some of these diet programs can even backfire, causing weight gain or malnutrition.
If you have ever come across a detox diet plan, you would know that it would involve one of these:
1. Fasting for a couple of days
2. Drinking only fruit and vegetable juices and smoothies, along with water
3. Taking supplements
4. Exercising regularly
5. Eliminating sugar, alcohol, coffee etc.
6. Using laxatives
Unfortunately, there is little to no evidence that detox diet removes any toxins from your body. In fact, your body is capable of cleansing itself through liver, urine, sweat etc. Some research has shown that through a 48-hour fast and 3 weeks of reduced calorie intake, we increase the stress hormone level. Other studies show that going on a detox diet can be a stressful experience, and can also foster an unhealthy relationship with food.
Does that mean detox diets are bad?
No. A smarter approach to this would be to follow a sustainable lifestyle which includes detoxification every now and then without being too hard or extreme.
Here are some ways in which you can maintain a sustainable lifestyle which will also help you detox regularly.
1. Avoid packaged foods or meals as much as possible
2. Limit your sugar intake as much as possible
3. Limit your intake of coffee and alcohol
4. Opt for fresh cooked meals at home
5. Shop for vegetables and groceries every week and try planning your meals in advance
6. Inculcate the habit of eating lots of salad in all your meals
7. Exercise regularly
8. Aim to have at least one fruit a day
Healthy detox programs will allow you to eat from all of the food groups that include vegetable, fruits, fat free or low fat dairy, grains, proteins and healthy oils.
Many people feel that because the detox programs are short lived they are easy. The problem, however, is that without a plan to shift to a long-term program for healthy eating any benefits that you gain on a detox diet will disappear as soon as you come back to your routine. Many people gain weight from unhealthy binging after the detox is completed because the detox diet usually puts you on a low calorie diet. It is imperative to follow a diet plan that is sustainable in the long run and does not put your body through stressful conditions every now and then.
Will a detox diet boost your energy level?
If it provides adequate nutrition, i.e., enough calories from a range of food groups, then yes, you may feel a boost of energy after a few days. If you eliminate caffeine, alcohol and sugary foods, the energy boost might be quiet prominent. But if you only drink juices and water you are likely to feel tired.
Does that mean you need to take special supplements during a detox?
You may come across a lot of advertisements for a wide range of supplements, but in reality you don’t need any supplements to gain the nutritional advantage provided by them. If you are eating fruits, vegetables and whole grains and are ensuring that you are hydrated, your metabolism is going to remain healthy.
Will laxative teas help in detoxification?
There is no research that proves this. In fact, they can cause diarrhoea and can also lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.
Some side effects to consider while opting for any sort of detox diets:
1. A severe calorie restriction which is going to result in irritability and fatigue.
2. Overdosing on supplements and laxatives might cause dehydration among other digestive illnesses.
3. People who have eating disorders or blood sugar issues should stay away from any sort of calorie restricting regimens without consulting a doctor.
In a nutshell: Crash detox diets don’t stack up well when compared to other diet programs. Many detox plants restrict carbohydrate intake and eliminate dairy, most protein and healthy fats. There is a severe lack of regulation and monitoring in the detox industry, and it is imperative that we shed light on the truth.
A healthy detox alternative would be to slowly ease into a lifestyle which focuses on eating nutrient-rich whole foods that are filling and satisfying. Every once in a while you can steer clear of processed food, full fat dairy, refined foods or food with added sugar, and you’ll see that you can easily control your food habits without feeling the need to go on an extreme routine which causes you stress.