Chances are, you’ve heard about detox diets, those special dietary regimens that promise to cleanse out your system and help you lose weight at the same time. Many of these diets are touted by celebrities and are popular on social media.
Are detox diets like the “Master Cleanse” helpful, or are the touted benefits just marketing hype? Most medical experts believe that virtually all of these diets are inadvisable. Here’s why:
- There’s no need to cleanse your colon. The body does not store toxic substances in the colon that lead to ill health and need to be cleaned out. This is a myth. The only time you need to clean out your colon is before a colonoscopy exam.
- Drinking too much liquid can be dangerous. There is no medical evidence that drinking excess fluids helps the body “flush out” toxins. In fact, if you drink too much water, it can interfere with the ability of your kidneys to properly balance the electrolytes in your body, which regulate nerve and muscle function. This can cause very dangerous problems including cardiac arrhythmias.
- The body already does a great job of eliminating toxins. Your liver and kidneys work constantly to eliminate waste and toxins from your body. It’s a well-developed system that is remarkably sophisticated and doesn’t require any outside help.
- Gas, diarrhea and lightheadedness are not healthy signs. Many people who undertake a “cleanse” or detox diet report disturbing symptoms. These are signs that the body is in distress, not getting healthier. Eating a varied, well-balanced diet every day is the best way to encourage better health.
- Detox diets lack critical nutrients. Your body needs a combination of fat, protein and carbohydrates to function properly. Going on a liquid diet, such as a juice cleanse, will starve your body of essential nutrients. It can also cause your metabolism to slow down. This is exactly the opposite of what you want when you are trying to lose weight.
If you really want to lose a few pounds and improve your health, there are better health options. Instead of fasting, try cleansing your diet of sugar-laden processed foods, unhealthy fats, fried foods, alcohol and other unhealthy choices, and replacing them with fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains and lean protein. It’s a better way to lose weight and feel healthier overall. And unlike the latest fad diet, this strategy has been proven to work.
About Karen Fleming, NP
A graduate of Framingham State College and the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Karen Fleming has been involved in medicine for over 24 years and has been a Nurse Practitioner since 1995. Practicing in the department of Internal Medicine in Auburn, she works with a team of doctors and nurses helping patients with their urgent and chronic healthcare needs. She has enjoyed working in this role for over 12 years. One of the things Karen...View profile View posts by this doctor
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What are fooda that increase the metabolism? I also want to ask about alkaline diets.
Hi Vanessa. It’s best to ask a nutritionist about your specific diet questions. Your primary care provider should be able to refer you.
I have been eating healthy food and fruit, vegetables almost every day. I do not use sugar, I do not eat fried food or a lot of carb, I am still gain a lot weight. What should I do to get ride of those weight.
Hi Kristie, we suggest that you talk to your primary care provider about this to make sure that there is not an underlying medical issue. They can also refer you to a nutritionist.
Good to learn about not drinking too much water. I’m currently on a healthy eating no sugars, no carb diet and water is my best friend. Especially with a slice of lemon or lime. Too much of anything is not a good thing!
Great article, I was thinking of trying this next week actually, but it seems serendipity stepped in and I read your article first. Thank you!
I’m not pro or anti juice cleanse, but perhaps substituting a snack with a freshly made vegetable juice would be a good idea?
Hi Rachel. We are not saying that there is anything wrong with juicing! It just needs to be supplemented with a healthy diet that allows you all of the other nutrients not found in the juice.
Great article! Thank you!!
Nuts make me gassy. But I love’m!
Not all detoxes (cleanses) are bad. Those that include actually eating real food are actually quite good for the body especially since many people do not have healthy diets.
Well Said :)