There are detox diets for all sorts of purposes: to cleanse the colon or liver, to lose weight by flushing fat, and even to clear acne. In essence, the idea is that when the body becomes overloaded with chemicals or fat, the system starts to bog down and needs to be flushed out.
By flooding the cells with specific liquids, the detox diet helps to loosen fat, clear out toxins, and then eliminate them through normal body processes, like perspiration, urination, and pooping.
While the idea may be sound in practice, there is not a lot of scientific evidence to show that the diets do what they say they will do.
However, there are plenty of anecdotal stories from detox fans who claim they manage to help them with stubborn health issues and helped them feel “cleaner” too.
Is There Any Truth to Cleansing Benefits?
It depends on the diet. For instance, those diets that help you lose weight actually do work, according to BistroMD, but that may be rapid weight loss due to restriction of calories and the elimination of processed foods, alcohol, and protein reduction.
Some detox diets even have you fast, thus, helping to temporarily shed some weight. However, whether you keep the weight off after the detox is not certain since the detox may only be short-term, like two weeks or less.
A raw food diet can help you lose weight too, and reduce the number of chemicals and fat you intake, simply because the foods you’re eating are mainly raw fruits and vegetables, with seeds and grains.
In the uncooked form, the diet is supposed to amp up enzymes that normally get cooked out of the food that are beneficial to “detoxify,” but again, there is little scientific study on that claim.
However, the benefits of eating a raw diet can help supplement a diet that is low in vitamins and minerals. It can also help in digestion when people may have trouble digesting meat or processed foods.
Curcumin, which is an ingredient in curry, is said to have many beneficial effects for the liver, and can be included in a “liver cleanse.” Other organs that are targeted for a cleanse are the kidneys and colon.
They may even include substances, like Cascara Sagrada, which produces a laxative effect to help in elimination. However, some people react very negatively to this ingredient and it should be used with caution.
In fact, any detox regimen that includes foreign substances that a person is not used to eating should be undertaken in small measures until they know how well their body reacts to it.
Other types of diets claim to pull heavy metals out of the body, such as from mercury fillings. Again, this type of claim is impossible to substantiate, however, there is evidence that cilantro water does eliminate heavy metals, like lead and nickel, because it is a bioabsorbant that soaks the metals up and then gets eliminated.
Thus, the cilantro herb can be used to filter out metals in the environment, but how well it does in the body has not been studied so far.
Yet, many detox diets use the idea of including natural ingredients, like cucumber or lemon, in water drunk regularly, to help pull toxins out of the body as a part of the detox regime to flush the system.
How Healthy Is It?
Obviously, the reduction of calories and restriction of proteins and other types of foods can cause serious problems for people who already have health problems.
Diabetics, in particular, can be in danger of causing their sugar readings to go dangerously low if they fast. What’s healthy for one person, may not be healthy for another, so it does make sense to check with your doctor before starting any detoxifying diet to make sure you can do it safely.
Exercise and Sleep
Aside from making sure it is safe for you, you may find that you do experience a lighter, cleaner, feeling during the detox. You may want to include some exercise and plenty of good sleep during your one or two week cleanse.
Eliminate fatty foods, alcohol, sugar, and other non-healthy foods that can make you feel sluggish and you may even pick up a ton of energy during the cleanse.
Just these short-term gains alone can help improve your mood and make you feel like it was all worth it. Including healthy fruits and vegetables can also supplement your vitamins and minerals.
However, once you go back to your regular diet, you may find that you start to gain weight and feel tired again.
That’s natural. Detox diets aren’t meant to be a long-term solution, but rather a short-term experience that helps to rejuvenate the body by helping it eliminate anything that may be bogging your system down too much.