The pros and cons
Like Banting or low-calorie, detox diets are also popular and trendy. Do they work? And what are the health benefits – if any?
Detox diets are said to “cleanse” the body, boost weight loss, give you clearer skin, and generally leave you feeling like a million bucks.
Detox diets come in various shades. You can fast, drink water/liquids only for a few days, or eat only raw vegetables, or sometimes, not eat at all for a few days.
How long you stick to the diet is dependent on your willpower. During detoxing, people generally try to avoid coffee, sugar and other addictive substances.
Will you lose weight? Probably. But research shows that this weight loss could be temporary. Chances are that any restrictive diet and not eating for a week is going to result in water weight lost.
After all it’s simple – no calories being consumed.
But there may be harmful effects. “Most detox plans serve up empty promises: from cell cleansing to skin revitalisation, colon decontaminating and liver purging,” says a report in the Food Technology journal. “The human body is designed to detox itself. Healthy adults, even overweight adults, have been endowed with extraordinary systems for the elimination of waste and regulation of body chemistry.”
Also, detox products (teas, juices etc) could contain harsh laxatives and diuretics that affect the natural functioning of your bowels.
Did you know that your liver is your body’s detox organ? You have an in-house cleaner already. Your liver and kidneys filter and naturally detoxify your body, getting rid of harmful toxins.
Excessive use of diuretics can lead to dehydration, which can be fatal in some cases.
Side-effects of detoxing include:
Detoxing doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing approach where you starve yourself, drink only liquids or live on one type of food for weeks.
If you do feel you could be a little lighter, want to reduce bloat and feel better about your body, combine a balanced diet with regular exercise. There’s also no harm in upping your intake of green vegetables which contains essential nutrients and fibre to boost your bowel health. Most of us could do with eating less sugar and salt too, so these are good places to start.
As always, check with your doctor first before starting any detox or diet.
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