From milk thistle teas to lemon and cayenne pepper,
the world of detox dieting is full of people trying to sell you a
quick fix for weight loss, 'cleansing,' or improved health. These
diets often use scare tactics to persuade you that your body is full
of chemical toxins that need to be flushed out -- with the help of
an expensive detox diet.
In fact, a healthy liver is remarkably efficient at
cleaning out toxins on its own, and highly restrictive or extreme
detox diets (or fasts) can actually be harmful if followed long
enough to cause nutritional and protein deficiencies. Any rapid
weight loss that occurs on a restrictive detox diet will come right
back. The good news is that a few days on a detox diet probably
won't do you any harm. The bad news is that there's very little
scientific evidence to suggest that it will do you any good, either.
So why bother? One reason is that many people do feel
better after 'detoxing' for a couple of days, either because of the
placebo effect or because they are genuinely eating more sensibly.
The most reasonable and beneficial detox diets start to look a lot
like what your doctor is recommending anyway: lots of fruits and
vegetables, beans and pulses, minimally processed whole grains, and
plenty of water.
If you'd like to go ahead and try a detox diet, here
are a few suggestions for a safe and sensible detox.
DO consult your doctor if you choose a commercial
DO eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables to
get all the nutrients you need. Berries supply antioxidants and
vitamin C, tomatoes supply lycopene, avocadoes essential fatty
acids, spinach iron. Organic produce will cut down on trace
elements of pesticides and chemicals, and steaming or
stir-frying rather than boiling them will preserve their
DO go for minimally processed whole foods and
grains like brown rice and quinoa.
DO avoid processed foods, animal fats and meat,
dairy, caffeine, and alcohol.
DO drink plenty of water and pure fruit juices.
DO detox for short periods (1-3 days), and
gradually re-introduce low-fat, high protein foods such as
DO use a detox to kick off a concerted health
regime that includes better nutrition and fitness.
And some things to avoid:
DON'T continue a diet that is making you feel
weak, nauseated, or headachey.
DON'T go for a 'miracle' detox diet. If it sounds
too good to be true, it probably is. No pill or supplement takes
the place of a healthy, balanced diet and regular exercise.
DON'T starve your body. Any weight you lose this
way will come right back.
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