What Is A Detox Diet?
WHAT THE LABEL SAYS
The name “Detox” is short for detoxification. This detox procedure is typically focused on the liver however, a number of other organs in the body can be involved as well. A detox diet is supposed to target and eliminate toxins and other harmful organic compounds from the body, keeping you feeling healthy and functioning properly.
Typically, a consumer who is interested in trying a detox diet will implement a diet based around a juice or tea cleanse. They might incorporate herbs, vitamins, minerals, laxatives, and or diuretics to their meal time regime.
THE JUICE CLEANSE
We have all heard of it, we have all been curious about it. What is it? A typical juice cleanse uses fruits and vegetables and juices them down to a drinkable form without the peels, pectin, skin, and pulp of the produce. Eating fruits and vegetables is my way of life, it is my mantra, my golden rule if you will. However, a diet solely based on the idea that fruit is the ONLY thing you should eat (ahem DRINK) is not the best idea.
The peel, skin, and pulp is where the fiber is located in the fruit/ vegetable. Drinking just the juice gives you the naturally occurring sugars in the form of fructose from the fruit (and a whole lot of nutrients) but no fiber. It has been proven that a low fiber and high sugar diet causes the blood sugar in your body to spike. Long term, this could potentially cause diabetes and weight gain. Furthermore, this could lead to problems in the gut that reduce the amount of helpful bacteria that fight off infections that keep you healthy.
*Disclaimer: a juicer is NOT the same as a blender, a blender will incorporate the peel, skin and pulp if the whole fruit/vegetable is used. Therefore, fiber is incorporated. However, other forms of food such as protein and good fats are needed.
What Are The Facts?
WHAT DOES AN RD SAY?
According to a survey done by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, a sample of 147 Registered Dietitians were questioned if their current clients have increased curiosity about detox diets and whether or not they recommend detox diets. The results suggest that detox diets have recently become widely popular due to possible media coverage. However, 80% of the 147 Registered Dietitians did NOT recommend a detox diet to “cleanse” the body.
WHAT IS THE EVIDENCE?
According to the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, there is very little credible evidence to support the effects of a detox diet. Many detox diets on the market today have not undergone the extensive research to prove their claims. Furthermore, the human body has been well equipped with detoxification organs such as the liver, kidney and gastrointestinal system. These organs, if functioning properly and without disease, cause no reason for an additional implemented detox regime.
“Your body already has a highly effective system for removing toxins, principally the liver and kidneys” – Irwin H. Rosenberg MD
Depending on the toxin of interest, this can be the deciding factor if a detox diet is truly right for you. Some metals and foreign chemicals can be harder for our organ systems to filter out and therefore may need an extra boost. In the case of toxic metals, such as lead, it is scientifically proven that some food groups have been found to be helpful with elimination from the body. In the case of toxic metal poisoning, referring to a specialized doctor is important.
- Malic Acid (found in grapes and wine)
- Citric Acid (citrus fruits)
- Succinic Acid (found in apples and blueberries)
- Citrus pectin (found in the peels and pulp of citrus fruits)
- Chlorella (type of green algae)
The Amazing Human Body
BEFORE YOU GO
Before you click off this blog and think I am giving you advice to bombard your body with anything you want because it will “take care of itself,” look again. The foods we consume and the drinks we sip, whether it’s nutritious or junk, will ultimately be broken down by our body into waste products and excreted out. The process goes a little like this..
Have the amazing function to prevent toxic build up by sorting out the good from the bad. The kidneys filter out the nutrients the body needs to function, while sending the rest of the product back to be turned into waste. The kidneys can “sense” when we are low in a certain nutrient and can reabsorb it back into the system. Likewise, if we have too much of a certain nutrient, it will be eliminated.
Removes toxins in the body by utilizing enzymes that break down substances to be transformed into urine. This ultimately gets excreted out of the body as well. Our liver is the organ where alcohol is broken down into a compound called acetaldehyde, which is then broken down into carbon dioxide and water.
A RICH DIET
The ultimate goal is to have a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, not ONLY fruits and vegetables. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics urges us to eat a variety of foods, making sure we get enough nutrients/ vitamins to overcome the splurges and toxins we may consume in the process. This is because of what we have already seen, our body filters out the bad and keeps the good. If we only consume bad, there is nothing left for the good of the body. However, if we only consume “a cleansing detox diet” our body misses out on a lot of vital nutrients it needs. It is better to implement a lifestyle diet of eating clean with a variety of different vitamins/nutrients than to starve the body because we might have splurged on cake this week and feel the need to make up for it.
It is okay to splurge and miss a day or two of clean eating, your body WILL take care of itself.
“Survey of attitudes and use of detoxification and cleanse diets by registered dietitians” -Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
“Detox diets for toxin elimination and weight management: a critical review of the evidence” -Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics
“Do you really need to ‘Detox’?” -Tufts University Health and Nutrition letter
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