Detox Dieting: Demystified

by Stephanie Davis

“There is no upside to these diets.” Dr. Roger Clemens, P.H.

Detox diets are the “get skinny quick” fix in the media lately. Diets such as the “açai berry diet” popularized by the
Liquid Diet
Liquid diets include the lemonade "Master Cleanser", açai, and meal-replacement drinks
media lately, liquid diets, laxative diets, or diets that include “cleansing” and “flushing” in their description all fall under the “Detox Diet” category. These diets are characterized by very restrictive calories, restrictive foods, specific liquids or drink supplements, or laxatives to promote the “detoxification” of your digestive system, liver, kidney, or colon. They claim that after the detoxification process your body will be able to function more efficiently and will promote your general health and energy.

Though many people notice rapid weight loss it doesn’t equate to fat loss, which is what you should be trying to lose. The mass that is lost is fluid (also known as “water weight”) and muscle. Also, most of these diets do not claim to promote weight loss; their main aim is the cleansing of the digestive system, and none of these claims, neither weight loss nor detoxification, have been sent in for review by the Food and Drug Administration for validity and effectiveness.

Another danger associated with detox dieting is misinterpretation from the participant. Dr. Roger Clemens from the University of Southern California (USC) in pharmaceutical sciences department states:
“The biggest danger is nutrient insufficiency from protracted starvation,” he explains. “Americans have a tendency to believe that if some is good, then more is better. This is a very dangerous mindset,” he adds, “when it comes to these types of diets. For example, if the diet is supposed to be followed for 10 days, someone might conclude that it would be even better to follow it for 40 days. That’s when a serious medical situation could result.” (USC Health Now)

The danger comes from depriving your body of the essential nutrients, minerals, and calories it needs for basic cell function. Instead of cleansing yourself, you may be shutting down your liver or kidney if this diet is taken to extremes. Fasting for long periods of time can also slow down your metabolism for the long term, making it easier to gain weight back after the diet is completed and harder to lose said weight.

Side-effects of unhealthy detox dieting include:
· Unhealthy, rapid weight loss Number Stress
· Muscle deterioration
· Blood sugar inconsistencies
· Loss of electrolytes
· Fatigue
· Liquid bowel movements
· Nausea, vomiting
· Decreased ability to fight infection
· Feelings of deprivations, which can lead to binge-eating
· Dehydration (if using a laxative)
Balanced Nutrition
A detox diet is not necessarily a bad idea, but you need to know exactly what you are doing before you participate. Eating raw or steamed vegetables, drinking lots of low-sugar liquids and water, cutting out caffeine and alcohol, consuming lots of fruit, and keeping your diet full of fiber is a good, healthy way to “detoxify” your body from excess material in fast- and processed foods. Your body is designed to purify itself, but when your consume lots of processed foods, high-sugar beverages, etc. those effect how well your body can function, and are usually stored as fat since they have excess, empty calories. If you do plan on doing something drastic, such as starting a detox diet: talk to a doctor. If that’s not an option, just change your diet to something that cuts out processed foods, fast foods, caffeine, alcohol, drugs, and tobacco. Eliminating these from your diet will give you more long-term benefits than a detox diet will, and won’t deter the effectiveness and functionality of your organs.

TeensHealth: Answers & Advise
WebMD: Demystifying Detox Diets
USC Health Now

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