Detox Diet: A Myth or Reality?


Detox, short for detoxification, is the removal of potentially toxic substances from the body. Although it is primarily used as a treatment for alcohol or drug dependence, the term has been used lately to refer to diets, herbs, fasting drinks or powder that remove body toxin ingested from food, water, and air. Those toxins include pesticides, antibiotics, and hormones in food, chemicals from food packaging, household cleaners, detergents, food additives, heavy metals, pollution, drugs, and cigarette smoke.

Detox sounds like a good idea, but in fact the human body is a marvelously efficient detoxing machine. It has many internal systems to eliminate toxins, including the digestive tract, the lymphatic system, liver and gall bladder, kidneys, lungs, and skin.

There are many kinds of detox diets, mainly concerned with minimizing the amount of chemicals ingested; for example, by eating organic food. These detox diets emphasize on food that provide vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants, which the body needs for detoxification. They consume high fiber foods and water, which draw out and eliminate toxins by increasing the frequency of bowel movements.

After completing a detox diet, people often report improved energy, weight loss, clearer skin, regular bowel movements, improved digestion and immune system, increased concentration and clarity. Some scientists, however, assure that detox diets have a placebo effect, where individuals feel better as they believe they are doing something healthy for their bodies, but in reality, they may be doing more harm than good, by causing nutrient deficiencies.

There are potential side effects of detox, which include low energy and blood sugar, muscle aches, fatigue, dizziness or lightheaded, and nausea. Detox should, thus, be used only for short-term weight loss. Pregnant or nursing women and children should not go on a detox diet; it is not recommended for teens either, because they need enough calories and protein to support rapid growth and development. Detox diets are also not for people with health conditions such as heart, liver and kidney disease, or other chronic medical conditions. Moreover, some sports and physical activities require ample food, while this low in protein and calories diet does not provide enough fuel to support them.

In fact, there is no conclusive medical evidence that detox really gets rid of toxins or benefits a person’s health, nor is there scientific evidence that the digestive system will heal from skipping solid foods that are actually helpful. The weight people lose is a result of losing water, carbohydrate stores and stool, which all return after resuming a regular diet.

There is no solid scientific proof for detox diet effect on the level of toxins in the body. However, the human body was created with a very complex detoxification system that when properly cared for, will function very well to eliminate toxins. A balanced diet of whole foods such as vegetables, fruit, high-quality proteins, whole grains and legumes is healthy for your entire body. Anyone considering a detox diet should consult their medical doctor first.


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