The idea of detox diets can be appealing because of the promise of a healthier body, weight loss and ‘getting rid’ of unwanted substances from the body, such as flavour enhancers, food colourings, pesticides and preservatives. Sounds good right? Well, like many fad diets, detox diets may have harmful side effects. Read on to learn more about the myths of detox diets and find out how you can eat for good health long term.
Myth: Detox diets can help me lose weight
Simply avoiding highly processed foods that have unhealthy fats and sugar is beneficial for most, even without resorting to a detox diet.
However, when detox diets involve supplements that are actually laxatives, which cause you to go to the bathroom more often, they may result in dehydration, mineral imbalances and problems with your digestion system. Fasting can also slow down your metabolism, making it hard to lose weight the future.
Myth: Detoxification is important for well-being due to the toxins that remain in the body.
There is little evidence that detox diet can remove toxins from the body. Toxins and waste are removed from the body with a healthy liver and kidneys. The human body is well-equipped to deal with such toxins and they are effectively neutralised, processed and removed by the body regularly. What foods like fruit and vegetables do is contribute to your fibre intake and aid in bowel movement. Drinking more water helps in urine production. Your body will naturally purify itself if it is working properly.
Myth: Detox diets are safe for all
As mentioned, health benefits of a detox diet have not been proven. As such, people with serious diseases, vitamin and mineral deficiency, and children and the elderly should not undergo any detox diet. Depending on your health condition, these detox diets may do more harm than good.
People with sensitive stomachs cannot handle acidic drinks and would not benefit from fruit drinks high in citric acid content, like lemons or oranges. Consuming large amounts of apples could also potentially be a problem for diabetic patients on a restricted sugar diet.
Teenagers who are experiencing major developments in their body also need a lot of good nutrition. Diets that involve fasting and severe restriction of foods are not a good idea.
It is always important to note that you should not start any sort of extreme diet like a detox diet without consulting your doctor on whether it is suitable for your body condition.
Myth: I would feel better, with more energy to stay focused and clear-headed
Feeling lighter and less lethargic after a week of a detox diet points more towards a lack of calories and an increased nutrient intake from fruits and vegetables, rather than the elimination of toxins from the body. Headaches are a common side effect of caffeine withdrawal along with tiredness and irritability in some people. Too rapid a weight loss can pose health risks to the liver, injuring it or causing fatty liver.
Myth: Detoxification works for me, and that’s all that matters
Anyone who goes on a low-fat, high-fibre diet is probably going to feel healthier. Not because of the elimination of toxins, but because you are carrying around less excess weight or have a healthier heart. However, there’s no scientific proof that these diets help get rid of toxins in your body faster or that the elimination of toxins will make you a healthier and more energetic person. In fact, long term usage of such detox diets can lead to nutritional deficiencies (minerals and vitamins) and can affect your energy levels and metabolism.
Eating lots of vegetables and fibre and drinking lots of water is not a bad idea. But you need to ensure that you’re getting all the nutrients you need, including protein and calcium. Before you start on a detox diet or stop eating from any major food group, talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian to make sure it is right for you.
Readers should be discerning when reading about such diets. Check that the information comes from credible sources and is backed up by scientific research and medical data to substantiate the claims.
If you’re feeling tired or run down, or if you’re concerned that you’re overweight, speak to one of our specialists. They can help you determine the cause and recommend ways to address the problem. Contact us if you’re interested in looking into health insurance for protecting yourself and your family.