A detox diet is a unique way of eating foods that help your body eliminate toxic substances. It has recently become popular, and many people have tried it. But do they work?

With so many inventions of different diets and eating disorders like orthorexia nervosa, some people may feel that they have ingested toxic foods. This means that they will have to detox or cleanse their system. Proponents of the detoxification (detox) diet claim that it can purify your blood and flush out harmful toxins from your body. That said, there is no science to back these claims with regards to how the diet cleans the body and what specific substances are meant to be eliminated. This article will discuss what a detox diet is, how it works, and its side effects.

What Is a Detoxification Diet?

A detoxification or cleanse diet is usually followed for a short period and is designed to help your get rid of harmful compounds. Typically, this type of diet requires one to fast and strictly follow a diet of vegetables, water, fruit juice, and whole fruits. In extreme cases, a detox diet may include enemas, herbs, teas, and supplements. It is purported that the diet works by resting the body by fasting, promoting the liver’s ability to eliminate toxins, improving general circulation, packing healthy nutrients into your body, and promoting the elimination of harmful compounds through feces, urine and sweat.

Your doctor or nutritionist may recommend a detox diet for you, especially when you have been exposed to harmful chemicals in your diet or the environment. Such harmful chemicals may include synthetic chemicals, pollutants, or heavy metals. Other instances that warrant a detox diet include autoimmune diseases, chronic lethargy, obesity, allergic reactions, chronic inflammation, gassing, and digestive problems. Nevertheless, there is no existing human research to back detox diet, and even if there could, the findings are inconclusive.

How To Detox with the Detox Diet

There are so many ways of detoxing and cleansing your body with the detox diet. Basically, they range from fasting with total starvation to eating simplified foods. In most cases, a typical detox diet may involve any of the following:

Total fasting for one to three days.

Regular exercises.

Taking herbs or supplements.

Drinking water, smoothies, vegetable juices, tea, or fruit juices.

Taking lemon juice, salted water, or any other preferred liquid.

Avoiding the intake of all allergic foods then reintroducing them slowly.

Avoiding foods containing allergens, heavy metals, or contaminants.

Using enemas, colon cleanses, and laxatives.

Completely avoiding coffee, alcohol, cigarette, and added sugars.

It is worth noting that the duration and intensity of the detox diet may vary depending on an individual’s choice of doing it.

Which Compounds Are Eliminated?

Detox diets are claimed to help eliminate toxins out of the body. It is not clear which toxins are eliminated as the diets themselves have failed to single out the specific toxins are targeted. Similarly, it is also not clear how the detox diets work. There is completely no evidence that the detox diet can eliminate any toxin from the human body. Studies suggest that your body has its detoxification mechanism, including the liver, skin, and kidney. The liver breaks down the toxic substances and ensures that they are eliminated from the body. Some chemicals like bisphenol A and persistent organic pollutants (POPs) may not be eliminated effectively via natural detoxifiers of your body, and they can be stored in blood or fat for a very long time. That said, there is no evidence that the detox diet can eliminate these compounds.

Effectiveness of the Detox Diets

Are there any chances that detox diets can be effective? Well, some people claim that their focus levels are heightened, and their energy increased during the detox diet and after it. It is still not convincing to experience this state of well-being just because you are on the detox diet. It is rather majorly due to the elimination of alcohol, refined sugars, processed foods, and unhealthy substances. Additionally, your intake of vitamins and minerals may increase more than your previous intake. Nonetheless, most of those who have tried detox diets even complain of feeling very unwell.

Detox Diet and Weight Loss

Many people have noticed quick weight loss while on a detox diet. While these effects set in when you are on the diet, they may just be due to fluid loss and depleted carbs stores instead of fat. Interestingly, you will regain the lost weight just as quickly as you lost it when you go off the diet. Some studies have indicated that detoxifying with a lemon detox diet may lead to reduced body mass index, waist-to-hip ratio, body weight, waist circumference, improved insulin resistance, and lower levels of circulating leptin.

Potential Benefits of Detox Diets

A few ways of doing a detox diet may benefit your health significantly. It may lead to the loss of excess fat. May improve your exercise and regular sweating, which is healthy. Increased intake of fluids like water and green tea may not only lead to weight loss but also help keep you hydrated. A detox diet may also help lower stress, promote good sleep relaxation. Doing this diet also encourages the intake of whole, healthy, and nutritious foods. Avoiding processed foods may also improve and support heart health. This particular diet may also help you avoid heavy metals and persistent organic pollutants.

Side Effects of Detox Diets

Detox diet involves longer periods of fasting. Scientists suggest that fasting for long may deprive your body of vitamins, energy, and minerals. This may lead to electrolyte imbalance or even death. Short-term fasting, on the other hand, can result in irritability and fatigue. Enemas that are also used during the diet are a risk for cramping, dehydration, and vomiting.

Take Away

You may sometimes get exposed to toxins in the environment or food. However, through the help of the liver and kidney effectively, your body eliminates these toxins. Detox diets may seem promising, but there is no science to back them. Their health benefits are not associated with eliminating toxins but are due to the elimination of processed and unhealthy foods.

Elena Ognivtseva
Latest posts by Elena Ognivtseva (see all)

Nutritionist, Cornell University, MS

I believe that nutrition science is a wonderful helper both for the preventive improvement of health and adjunctive therapy in treatment. My goal is to help people improve their health and well-being without torturing themselves with unnecessary dietary restrictions. I am a supporter of a healthy lifestyle – I play sports, cycle, and swim in the lake all year round. With my work, I have been featured in Vice, Country Living, Harrods magazine, Daily Telegraph, Grazia, Women's Health, and other media outlets.

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