To detox or not to detox, that is the question. It is common to look for a quick fix to get into shape and detoxing has become overwhelmingly popular with many people citing detoxes as necessary practices for better health. Yet detoxes may not be the miracle cure that people claim them to be. In fact many physicians and dietitians warn against the adverse effects of a detox diet. Instead of getting caught up in the marketing hype of a detox diet I spoke with Dr. Lauri Wright, a registered dietitian and assistant professor at the University of South Florida, to clear up a few things about detoxes.
What are some of the dangers people face when doing a detox?
LW: Detoxes are really popular and unfortunately they haven’t shown to be as effective as they are popular. They can be dangerous for some individuals. People need to be aware of the potential risks of a detox diet. Hydration is probably the first concern. Your body is losing a lot of water and fluids and you can become dehydrated very easily. Another risk is that your blood sugar can drop because you are not taking in enough nutrition. Not taking in enough carbohydrates can actually cause your body to start breaking down your own muscles for energy. So that can be dangerous especially for people who have chronic medical conditions like diabetes, heart disease and of course we would never recommend it for a pregnant woman.
There are many different types of detox diets. Are all of them harmful?
LW: The more severe the detox the greater the risk. In general the detox diets are not adequate in nutrients so they aren’t healthy for that reason and they are generally very low in calories and that leads to the breaking down of muscles for energy. It also slows your metabolism too. Your body doesn’t know that you are on a popular diet. Your body only knows that it is starving. It will go into survival mode and start slowing down your metabolism. When we are trying to lose weight that is the last thing we want.
What would you recommend to people who are trying to get healthy and lead a better lifestyle?LW: That is a very interesting question because our bodies are really amazing and we have two organs that are very efficient at processing and getting rid of toxins, the liver and the kidneys. We also get help from our intestines. The body is very efficient in getting rid of toxins. Of course you can aid the body by drinking plenty of water and taking in fiber from whole wheat cereals, breads or grains as well as fruits and vegetables. So those are natures way of getting rid of toxins and keeping the body healthy.
Are detoxes necessary or should we change our diets?
No, if you keep the intestines and the kidneys working well, you take in plenty of fluids and fiber, our bodies are equipped to clean themselves out.