Detox Diets

Reasons for Detoxing

The purpose of detox dieting is to minimise the amount of toxic substances entering the body for a period of time, especially by reducing intake of alcohol, caffeine, and other habitual toxins. This allows the body's cleansing organs, the liver, kidney and spleen, to perform at their best. This in theory would remove any residual toxic buildups which could occur over time. Examples of toxins which could accumulate in the body would be poisonous metals such as mercury from eating fish, cadmium from shellfish, traces of lead from pipes and old paints, other chemicals such as fluoride from drinking water, noxious fumes inhaled from urban environments and cigarette smoke. There is also evidence to suggest that chemicals from food additives and colourings such as sodium benzoate and aspartame may contribute to emotional disorders in children and adults. Fatty buildups on the liver may accumulate when the organ is routinely overloaded.

Length of Detox Diet

Detox diets can last for one day, a weekend, one week, or as long as a month. One-to-three day rapid detox diets are usually consist mainly on juice, water, and raw fruits and vegetables. This kind of diet is not recommended for first-time detoxers. Do not allow yourself to go hungry while on a detox diet – continue to eat healthy ingredients until hunger is satisfied. Eating full fruits and vegetables are better for detox fasting than juices, since they provide more fibre and energy. A clear liquid detox diet may only be attempted in preparation for clearing one's bowels for surgery. This should not be confused with weight-loss liquid diets (such as “meal replacement” drinks) which purposely provide too few calories, causing dehydration by depleting energy reserves in the muscles and liver.

Criticism of Detox Diets

Detox dieting receives some criticism from Western mainstream medicine, but even though conventional doctors would not necessarily require a detox diet from their patients, undergoing a detox is also seen as harmless unless resulting in nutritional deficiency. Most detox diets will recommend drinking lots of water, increased intake of fruits and vegetables, while eliminating processed foods, alcohol, and caffeine, and all of these are healthy habits which are likely to make the individual feel well.

Preparation for a Detox Diet

A period of preparation is recommended for a major detox session. Otherwise, the body may experience a flood of toxins being washed away from its systems, causing the individual to feel unwell. The first step to this preparation is eliminating powerful toxins such as alcohol for at least one week before. Then the person may move onto the intensive phase of detox dieting, usually cutting out caffeine, alcohol, wheat, dairy, salt, sugar, meat, poultry, processed foods and over-the-counter painkillers for the period of the detox. It is recommended that the person increases the fibre and antioxidants in their diet, especially by eating oats, grains other than wheat, fruits and vegetables.

It is recommended to buy organic ingredients for a detox diet, since fruits and vegetables grown with insecticides will absorb those chemicals from their surfaces and through the soil.

Detox Diet Warnings

You should not detox if you are about to have or just had surgery, if you are on warfarin, blood pressure medication, antidepressants or birth control pills, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, under 18 years of age, or if you have a mental illness such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, or an eating disorder. Ask your doctor if you suffer from diabetes, heart disease, hypoglycemia, liver or kidney problems, cancer or stomach ulcers. In some cases, detoxing will lead to rashes, mild fevers, or short-term fatigue as toxins are released from the body's organs and then cleansed. These symptoms are brief and indicate that the detox diet is working.