Detoxification diets are extremely popular these days. You’ll find everything from a single meal using detox-heavy ingredients to plans designed around using detox drinks to lose weight safely. There are even three day cleanses that allow you to eat real food the entire time! But, the big question on everyone’s mind: Are detox diets healthy? Just because everyone’s doing them and many people are reporting results (such as weight loss or improved energy) doesn’t mean that these types of diets are actually healthy for your body.
Here at SkinnyMs, we’re all about helping you create a healthy lifestyle. Whether you’re following a 30-day weight-loss plan or you’re just trying to get back into shape, we’re here to support you. The last thing we want anyone doing is starving themselves or putting their body in a dangerous position! That’s why we want to take a deep look at detoxing to help you determine if it’s right for you. So, are detox diets healthy? Let’s find out!
What is a Detox Diet?
You would think that this question would have a straightforward answer, but it’s actually a bit trickier than that. Some detox diets use periods of fasting followed by consumption of raw fruits and vegetables (usually, juiced). Other diets advocate the use of supplements to fully empty the intestines, including colon-cleansing enemas. So, it’s hard to define what every detox diet looks like.
What we can define, though, is detoxification. This is the process that your body naturally goes through to neutralize toxins and eliminate them from the body. These toxins can be anything that might harm your body: chemicals that come from the environment or our food, medications (legal or otherwise), or our body’s natural waste products, like carbon dioxide or lactic acid. Our organs and systems work together to turn those toxins into harmless compounds and eventually eliminate them from the body.
Problems occur when there is a buildup of toxins. If we ingest more toxins than our bodies can remove, our systems start to store these toxins in our fat tissues, bones, blood, and muscle tissue. Over time, this can lead to cysts, joint pain, and more serious diseases or organ dysfunction. The idea behind a detox diet is to clean your system from the inside-out, purging these excess toxins and returning your body to a state of normal toxin elimination.
Are Detox Diets Healthy?
As we’ve discovered, toxins definitely can hurt your body – especially if they’re allowed to pile up in excess. And, we’ve also learned that our body will naturally work to detoxify itself, it just might not be happening at a fast enough rate. So, if you want to accelerate the rate at which your body detoxes itself, you might turn to a detox diet. You just might be wondering are detox diets healthy before you get started.
While there are some healthy components to detox diets, there are also some unhealthy habits that many people follow. We’ll take a look at a few healthy ways to detox your body so you can decide if the detox program you’re looking into will be healthy for your body. You should always check with your doctor or nutritionist before starting a detox program, especially if you have an existing medical condition or you’ve had an eating disorder.
Eat Whole, Organic Foods
This is definitely a healthy way to detox your system! One of the major ways that we create toxins in our body is by ingesting chemicals. These might come from a pesticide spray on the outside of an apple, or they may come from those unpronounceable ingredients in the boxed food you find at the grocery store. If you remove processed foods from your diet and eat organic whenever possible, you can reduce the number of toxins you ingest.
Drink More Water
Almost every detox program instructs you to drink more water – at least eight, 8-ounce glasses a day. It’s well known that staying hydrated is generally good for your body, and drinking more water can even help you lose weight by helping you feel fuller. So, if your detox diet involves detox water recipes, feel free to drink away.
Adding Cleansing Foods, like Turmeric, Ginger, and Lemon
These naturally-occurring supplements certainly aren’t bad for you! Spices like ginger and turmeric, paired with vitamin-rich citrus, have been used as Ayurvedic medicinal supplements for centuries. They can help curb your appetite and boost your body’s natural detoxification levels. So eat up! If you’re worried about eating too much of any of these foods, find out how much turmeric is too much.
Some detox diets have you following an intermittent fasting schedule. It’s really important that you don’t starve yourself, so any diet that has you fasting for more than 24-hours is probably not healthy for your body. On the other hand, there are studies that show that you can lose weight healthily using intermittent fasting, so it’s probably okay for the short-term. Just make sure you’re drinking plenty of water during the fasting phases!
Sweating Out the Toxins
One of the ways our bodies naturally eliminate toxins is through sweat. Our pores are hard-wired to get rid of all those nasty toxins (and smell a little bit in the process!). Any detox program that recommends exercise definitely has our seal of approval! Just make sure that you’re not overdoing it. If you’re reducing your caloric consumption or you’re going through a fasting phase, consider gentle workouts like yoga.
The Effectiveness of Detox Diets
Many people report weight loss after doing a detox diet, along with experiencing increased energy and improved sleep. Unfortunately, the jury is still out on these claims. There have been no clinical trials that support these results. There are also no studies that show the long-term effects of detox diets.
In the end, we don’t see any harm in doing detox diets – especially if you’re doing it healthily. So the next time you find yourself wondering, “Are detox diets healthy?” ask yourself if you’ll be drinking more water, exercising, consuming lots of vegetables, and reducing your consumption of processed and junk food. If the answer is yes, you’re probably well on your way to making some positive lifestyle changes!