If you take a second to google “detox diet”, you may be surprised to find that over 16,300,000 hits pop up! The detox diet trend is overwhelmingly popular, but is it sound science? Some of the most popular hits include Dr. Oz’s 48 Hour Weekend Detox, the Lemon Detox, the Best Detox Diet for Weight Loss, etc. All of them make claims like, “remove all toxins from your body!” or “feel energized and rev up your metabolism!”. From all that we know about health and diet, do you ever wonder why you never hear any doctor (besides Dr. Oz) or dietitian prescribing them? Let’s talk a little today about why detox diets aren’t what they are advertised to be.
Detox Diet Discrepancies:
- Eliminate Toxins: If you review the claims provided with any of these diets, the dietary “toxins” you need to eliminate are never clearly defined. Why? They do not exist! Food does not contain “toxins” that need to be cleared out of the body simply by practicing a specific diet. The USDA regulates everything that is put on food or fed to animals to make sure additives such as flavor enhancers, food coloring, pesticides, and preservatives do not cause any adverse effects on your health. In addition to regulation, your body itself is designed to effectively eliminate any substances which could be harmful. The liver breaks down any non-food substances (think medication or food additives) so they can be excreted by the kidneys which filter all of your blood and produce urine. Your gut also helps prevent any harmful bacteria or pesticides in food from entering the body in the first place.
- Help You Lose Weight: Many, if not all, detox diet plans ask you to severely restrict calories, eliminate most food groups, or fast completely over the course of the diet. The “weight loss” in this case is water weight from restricting calories too much or fasting over a period of time. However, once you return to eating normally, the 1-2 pounds that were lost during your detox will come back.
- Decrease Bloating: A lot of detox diets focus on juicing or eating only a few fruits and vegetables and drinking lots of liquids. For a person who normally eats a lot of refined foods and little fiber, going on a high fiber detox diet can have significant GI effects. By dramatically increasing your fiber intake, you help eliminate constipation (and therefore, bloating) by going on these diets. Again, this is only short term unless you maintain a higher fiber diet after the detox.
- Make You Feel Energized: The reason for this is two-fold. One, you feel better because you have eliminated refined grains and junk food from your diet for a couple of days and increased your fiber intake, eliminating constipation. The other reason? It is just all in your head – ie. the placebo effect. You believe that by doing this detox, you are doing a good thing for your body, and thereby convince yourself that in fact, you do feel better.
So, if a detox diet isn’t the way to “clean up your diet and your body”. What can you do? Here my 7 tips for cleaning up your diet. Instead of going on that detox diet, eat this way for at least 3 days and see how you feel. The best thing about eating this way is that instead of serving as a temporary cleanse or diet, it will be a jump start for adopting a healthier diet for the rest of your life. Choose one of these 7 tips to start with, or jump right in and incorporate all 7. Check out my recipe page for tasty ideas on how to eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains!
Have you ever gone on a detox diet? What are your thoughts?