Detox diets that suppose to help you eliminate harmful toxins from your body are more popular now than ever. However, there is little evidence that they can help your kidneys and liver filter and eliminate the waste.
Some people feel more energetic after a detox diet while others use these cleansing programs to start-jump making better nutritional choices. When they avoid eating highly processed foods, added sugar or solid fats, most people begin to feel better. Other reported side effects like sleep problems, increased blood pressure, digestive problems like cramping, diarrhoea or a slow down metabolism when they stop following the diet. For these reasons alone, you should always consult a doctor before starting a cleansing program.
But let’s see how these short-term dietary interventions work, what they suppose to eliminate and what are their health effects.
What Is a Detox?
A detox program involves a period of fasting, followed by a strict plant-based diet and sometimes it can also include cleansing teas, enemas or nutritional supplements. These diets should help your body process and eliminate the metabolic toxins. Most detox diets claim to have health benefits such as:
- Stimulate your liver, kidneys and lungs to get rid of the waste through faeces, urine and sweat;
- Helping your organs rest during the fasting period;
- Improve blood circulation;
- Provide the body healthy nutrients.
Our bodies are constantly exposed to all sorts of chemicals from the foods we eat, from the meds we take or from the environmental pollutants. Detox diets should enable our body to process this toxic load and give our entire system a break. But most people use these therapies to solve all sorts of health problems from digestive issues, to allergies, autoimmune diseases, obesity or chronic fatigue.
The Most Common Ways to Detox
There are lots of detox solutions that offer a temporary fix from total starvation fasts to laxatives and diuretics, detox teas and medications, all of them promising to enhance your health and get you back on track. But most of these formulas were not tasted and their safety and efficacy is questionable so they can sometimes be more dangerous that you might believe. But let’s see what most detox diets are based on:
Fasting for 1–3 days.
- Drinking fresh smoothies and juice made of fruits and veggies, water and tea.
- Drinking only detox water, lemon juice or salted water.
- Eliminating foods that contain allergens or are contaminated with heavy metals.
- Taking plant-based supplements.
- Using laxatives, colon cleanses, diuretics.
- Exercising regularly.
- Eliminating sugar, alcohol, coffee and cigarettes.
Based on your final purpose detox diets may vary in duration and intensity.
Which Toxins Are Eliminated?
Although the mechanism by which detox diets work is still unclear and we can’t really identify which toxins are eliminated during a cleansing program, there are a few chemicals that need more than our body’s natural detox abilities to be flushed out. And it seems that a detox diet might help you eliminate these compounds: heavy metals, organic pollutants (POPs), bisphenol A (BPA), phthalates.
How Effective Are These Diets?
When we eliminate the processed foods and all the unhealthy substances from alcohol to cigarettes, sugar and coffee, from our diet, our general well-being is improved. If the detox program implies getting more minerals and vitamins that were lacking before from our meals, nourishing the body while supporting the cleansing process, we will definitely feel better. But these programs also claim that they can have:
Effects On Weight Loss
Unfortunately, even if you may lose some weight when you eliminate the carbs stores or the extra fluids in your body, the moment you go off the detox program, that weight is regained quickly. There are not a lot of studies out there that can prove that cleansing can impact weight loss but if your program involves a severe calorie restriction and it’s more of a long-term lifestyle than a temporary fix, you might be able to improve your metabolic health and accomplish your weight loss goals.
Effects On Your Stress Hormones
Several detox diets have similar effects to intermittent fasting, improving insulin sensitivity and leptin but in the same time increasing the levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. In a way it makes sense that if you feel intense hunger but you need to resist temptation, your crash diet can transform into a stressful experience.
- Avoiding processed foods and dietary sources of heavy metals;
- Eating whole, nutritious, healthy foods;
- Drinking water and green tea instead of alcohol and coffee;
- Exercising and sweating regularly.
But these are guidelines to follow regardless of whether you’re following a cleansing program. As long as you eat nutritious food, hydrate enough, limit stress and avoid dietary and environmental toxins, your health will thrive and you’ll be close to achieving inner and outer perfection.
Safety and Side Effects
However, if you decide to try a detox diet, you should consider its possible side effects.
Severe Calorie Restriction
Several detox diets can cause, dehydration, an electrolyte imbalance in your body and mineral deficiencies, they can affect your gut ability to absorb nutrients, they can force your body to contract more than it should, they can lead do laxative dependency in order to have a regular bowel movement, they can ruin your sleep patterns, and they can come with all sorts of digestive issues from cramping to diarrhea.
If you’re on a detox diet that involves supplements, diuretics and laxatives, you should be careful not to increase the risk of overdoing. Always read on the label what is the recommended intake and what are the side effects of those detox products and try to only use natural plant-based products, if possible. We recommend you Inner Harmony from ALLKME, a 100% natural formula that assists your body in cleansing while nourishing it with nutrients and probiotics.
Because the industry of supplements is not regulated, there are lot of formulas out there without any scientific basis and with a lot of questionable ingredients. Some of the ingredient labels may even be inaccurate and that can have serious or even fatal effects for you.
If you’re on medication, if you’re pregnant, malnourished, breastfeeding or have a specific eating disorder, never start a calorie-restricted regimen or a detox diet without consulting a health care provider first.
In conclusion, we sometimes need additional help to remove the toxins our body is exposed to but some of the detox diets can have dangerous side effects so try to focus on programs that eliminate unhealthy foods and improve your lifestyle rather than trying a quick fix that might ruin your health.