Moderation is key to managing your diet. No matter what new program you might see trending online, fad diets typically aren’t successful. Traci Mann, associate professor of psychology from UCLA states, “You can initially lose 5 to 10 percent of your weight on any number of diets, but then the weight comes back… Diets do not lead to sustained weight loss or health benefits for the majority of people.”1 While once popular diets, such as the Atkins diet, are no longer trendy (thank goodness), a new wave of “detox diets” have emerged to take center stage. The theory behind detoxing is that certain foods or liquids can cleanse your body and liver from toxins. Some detox programs are solely based on botanical tea mixes or supplements. Detox diets or programs claim to:
- Rid your body of toxins
- Allow your organs to rest
- Improve circulation
- Supply your body with nutrients
So how do you know weather a detox diet is worth the time? Are they beneficial, harmful, or simply a trend? We’ll break down all the do and don’ts of detox dieting.
What to avoid
Before you start a detox diet you need to recognize that, while your diet may be healthy, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you successfully “rid your body of toxins”. Because detox diets vary greatly, there is no significant evidence to back up detox dieting in general as a healthy or effective option. In addition, detoxing (which often includes fasting, or a large reduction in caloric intake) can be dangerous for long periods of time, or for those with blood glucose abnormalities. Detox dieting can also lead to weight gain after the diet is over. According to Harvard University, “Much of the weight loss achieved through this diet results from fluid loss related to extremely low carbohydrate intake and frequent bowel movements or diarrhea produced by salt water and laxative tea. When the dieter resumes normal fluid intake, this weight is quickly regained.”
If you are looking for tea or supplement detox, you need to carefully consider the product you have chosen. The Food and Drug Administration have addressed multiple companies selling detox products containing illegal ingredients. In addition, these ingredients may interfere with prescription drugs and should always be reviewed by a pharmacist or doctor. Detox teas and supplements often contain a laxative, which can cause electrolyte imbalance.
What to try
If you are going to try a detox program, choose your products carefully and do your research. Choose products that contain only whole foods such as freshly squeezed juice or smoothies that include fruits and vegetables. Adhere to a program that doesn’t deprive your body of calories and protein. If you are going to try fasting, don’t forget to hydrate with electrolytes. You can drink an electrolyte enriched water or take dissolvable tablets to prevent dehydration. You can also add a little bit of salt to the liquid that you are drinking.
If you are going to try a tea or supplement, discuss the product with your care provider first. If you are detoxing for a specific health ailment, they might have a better treatment option. Choose supplements that are third-party tested (such as cGMP certified) and contain ingredients that have ample amounts of research to support their use.
The bottom line
Don’t forget that the purpose of detoxing is to provide your body with wholesome nutrients. Don’t starve yourself or use laxatives; replenish yourself with whole foods that support your health. Avoid packaged foods that have a long list of ingredients. Above all, consider your detox goals and weigh the risks and benefits. Will you achieve what you set out to do? Or can you make simple, lasting changes that will accomplish the same thing without disturbing your body’s homeostasis along the way?
While focusing on your diet is important in supporting your specific health needs, you might also benefit from a supplement regimen, especially if you’re eliminating foods and missing out on certain nutrients. At Persona, we’ve got you covered. Take our free 5-minute assessment for personalized vitamin recommendations based on your health and lifestyle. Ready to have the right vitamins for you delivered right to your door? Get your personalized recommendations.
- Wolpert S. UCLA Newsroom. http://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/Dieting-Does-Not-Work-UCLA-Researchers-7832. Published April 3, 2007. Accessed July 23, 2019.
- Do Detox Diets and Cleanses Really Work? Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/detox-diets-101#what-they-are. Accessed July 23, 2019.
- “Detoxes” and “Cleanses”. National Institutes of Health. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/detoxes-cleanses. Modified September 24, 2017, Accessed July 23, 2019.
- The Dubious Practice of Detox. Harvard Health. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-dubious-practice-of-detox. Published May, 2008. Published July 23, 2019.