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Separating fact from fad.
by Megan Whitehead
Dieting has been part of our lives for centuries, with fad diets becoming part of popular culture in the late ’80s. We’ve gone from carb cutting to paleo to volumetrics with some truly crazy diets in between. One method of “healthy living” that has lately increased in popularity is detoxing.
What is it?
Detoxing tries to rid the body of harmful or toxic chemicals by drinking or eating certain things. A few examples: drinks made from lemon juice, cayenne pepper, and maple syrup; fruit and vegetable smoothies; and specially formulated juices infused with vitamins. Different products and approaches are each meant to cleanse different parts of your body, including the colon, liver, kidneys, and skin.
The CDC compiled a report in 2010 on the different chemicals found in our bodies. 212 chemicals were found, including:
The popularity of detoxing has increased with the endorsements of celebrities like Beyonce, Gwyneth Paltrow, Anne Hathaway, and more. With the prevalence of preservatives and chemicals in food and other daily products, knowing how our bodies react is an understandable concern. Cleansing and detoxing, by name alone, sound appealing: ridding your body of these artificial chemicals and toxins with a 48-hour or three-day process seems like a quick and easy way to live a healthier, happier life.
Does it work?
The conclusion of many nutritionists, dieticians, and doctors is that while detoxing isn’t harmful, it isn’t useful.
The benefits seen after cleansing or detoxing comes more from what you are eliminating from your lifestyle (alcohol, tobacco, junk food) than the ridding of toxins. Your body, through your liver, kidneys, and other organs, naturally removes harmful substances. The different cleansing products (juices, smoothies, etc.) do not actually jumpstart or affect these natural processes. According to the Mayo Clinic’s Katherine Zeratsky: “Some people report feeling more focused and energetic during and after detox diets. However, there’s little evidence that detox diets actually remove toxins from the body. Indeed, the kidneys and liver are generally quite effective at filtering and eliminating most ingested toxins.”
Keri Glassman, a registered dietician, gave CBS’s “The Early Show” her problems with detoxing:
There’s no scientific evidence to suggest our bodies need help to get rid of waste products if we’re healthy, and there’s little proof to support the claims that detox diets work. If someone follows a strict detox diet over the long-term, it could lead to nutrient deficiencies and health problems; however, if used for a short time, a detox or cleanse can jumpstart a lifestyle change, rather than a physical change.
Should you detox?
Be smart. As with most diets, you should consult your doctor before changing your eating habits drastically. If coupled with a well-balanced diet and proper nutrients, a detox can benefit your frame of mind when attempting to create a healthier lifestyle.
Do not cleanse for long periods of time. Cleanse for a couple days at most. The only proven way to build and maintain a truly healthy lifestyle is to eat a balanced diet and exercise.
Do your research. Look into the different methods of detoxing or cleansing and decide which one suits your tastes and lifestyle the best. Nothing works if it doesn’t fit.
Three Detox Myths
from Women’s Health