Despite a lack of scientific merit and medical evidence on their safety and efficacy, detox diets are regularly promoted with promises of improved wellbeing, weight loss and physiological benefits. But are they necessary?
What are they?
Many detox diets exist, described in terms such as “cell cleansing,” “immunity rejuvenation,” “body flushing,” “colon decontamination,” “skin revitalisation” and “liver purging.”
Generally, detox diets focus on fruit and vegetables (although these may be restricted), and ban or limit animal product foods, such as meat. They can also promote the intake of extracts, which are often sold as part of a “kit.” Water intake is encouraged and alcohol and caffeine are restricted.
Promoters of detox diets claim that our bodies are full of dangerous environmental toxins that you can purge by going on a “detox.”
The truth is, our body is constantly detoxing using natural, inbuilt mechanisms. If this wasn’t so, you would soon die! We have been endowed with extraordinary systems to eliminate wastes and regulate body chemistry. Our liver, kidney, lung, gastrointestinal tract and immune systems work full-time to remove or neutralise toxic substances within hours of eating them.
Why you feel better
People will feel better when they start a detox regimen, as they often dramatically change what they put into their body, focusing on healthier fluids and foods (including smaller portions) and cutting out the junk.
For example, drinking more water will improve the hydration of your skin. Cutting out or limiting alcohol or caffeine will decrease headaches. And eating less food results in less discomfort. There is nothing magical about detox diets per se.
You can boost your body’s natural detox mechanisms by adopting good health habits every day, rather than going on a spring clean every so often.
7 steps to enhance your body’s natural detox mechanisms
1. Drink plenty of water.
2. Limit or avoid caffeine and alcohol.
3. Eat seven colourful fruits and vegetables.
4. Choose wholegrain/wholemeal breads, cereals and grain foods.
5. Include legumes and some nuts in preference to meat/poultry.
6. Don’t smoke.
7. Take 10,000 steps a day (use a pedometer)