Detox Diets Don’t Work, But There Is Something That Does.
I’m having trouble remembering when all of this bunk about detox diets and internal organ cleansing started. The craze has been around for several years and started with Oprah and Dr. Oz. No offense to Oprah – I have great respect for the woman – but she wouldn’t be my go-to person for successful long-term weight loss advice.
Since then other celebrities have glamorized detox dieting to point that it’s trendy and mainstream. Maybe the most notable is the Master Cleanse that helped Beyonce drop 20 pounds in less than two weeks. The Master Cleanse consists of hot water, lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper for ten days. Then there’s the cabbage soup diet – which has been around for years by the way – that Jaime Pressly chose to help her lose her baby weight. And the apple cider vinegar detox that requires drinking straight shots of the stuff that Megan Fox uses when she needs to drop a few pounds.
Promoters of the detox fad diets claim this cleansing process will improve liver and kidney function, fight off disease, increase energy, and speed weight loss. To date there are no facts or scientific research that back up these claims (except for short term weight loss which is really no more than water weight).
Detox Diets Do More Harm Than Good
Ruth Frechman, registered dietitian and spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics thinks detox diets actually do more harm than good. She says our bodies are designed to naturally purify themselves so detox is unnecessary. Ruth says, “In the long run, they can actually weaken the body by lowering levels of necessary vitamins, minerals and protein normally provided by food.”
In Ruth’s article “Facts Don’t Suport Detox Diets” she cites other possible consequences of detox dieting:
- Any weight loss experienced is short term and rapidly regained when the diet ends.
- People with addiction tendencies may feel “high” from the detoxing which can lead to eating disorders.
- Detox diets that cleanse the colon may contain laxatives that can become habit forming, and permanently change the digestive track.
- Diets that require fasting may cause headaches, fatigue and irritability.
Other research has shown that detoxing can decrease the levels of potassium, lead to dehydration, deplete electrolytes and impair normal bowel function.
Frank Sacks, a cardiologist and researcher at Harvard Medical School warns people that “dieters end up in a worse place than when they started and the weight that is regained is likely to be all fat. Lost muscle has to added back in the gym.”
The best way to avoid the need to detox is to not bring toxins in to the system. You can assist the body with its own natural detoxification by eating a diet that is full of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, whole grains and lots of water.
There’s A Better Way
Americans should be more concerned about preventing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease than trying to save their liver by drinking vinegar shots.
According to WedMd, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is on the fast track to becoming an epidemic and is expected to increase by 50% by 2030. NAFLD is caused by the buildup of fat in the liver cells of people who do not drink alcohol excessively, and is the most common liver disease in Western countries. It is associated with obesity, insulin resistance, diabetes, high blood pressure and elevated blood fats.
The good news is non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is preventable. According to the National Liver Foundation there are some basic things you can do to keep your liver in shape:
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Eat a healthy diet full of fruits, veggies, whole-grains and lean proteins
- Exercise on a regular basis
- Limit alcohol intake
- Only take medication that you need and follow dosing recommendations.
The liver is one of the most important organs in the body. To think that we can abuse it with fast food, sugary drinks and sitting on the sofa watching T.V. every evening, then quickly bring it back to health with 10 days of cabbage soup is ridiculous. Keeping our liver, kidneys, colon, heart, brain and everything else in our system primed is going to take a little more time. But, since you’ll probably live longer, it will be worth it.