“Detox” has become a buzzword in the dieting world.
A common belief among the dieters is that you need to periodically follow a detox diet in order to clear the toxic waste to stay healthy (silently laughing inside :P). In particular, we might be tempted to detox after over-indulging, for example after Diwali or after attending a wedding.
Note: Detoxification/ detox diets are popular, but there is little evidence that they eliminate toxins from your body.
Continue reading if you disagree !
Unless you have a serious medical condition, your body is a well-developed system that has its own built-in ability to detoxify and remove waste and toxins. Your body constantly filters out, breaks down and excretes toxins and waste products like alcohol, medications, products of digestion, dead cells, chemicals from pollution and bacteria.
In fact, when you starve your body (a form of detoxification) of calories your body will ultimately start to build up chemicals called “ketones”. (Irony- That a detox diet actually creates more toxins)
These chemicals can result in nausea, dehydration, weakness, light-headedness and irritability. Further, a prolonged lack of protein causes your body to break down its own muscles and can compromise your immune system.
Apart from fasting, some other ways of “Detoxification” programs may involve a single process or a variety of approaches. These include:
- Drinking only juices or similar beverages
- Eating only certain foods
- Using dietary supplements or other commercial products
- Using herbs
- Cleansing the colon (lower intestinal tract) with enemas, laxatives
- Reducing environmental exposures
- Using a sauna
- Avoiding caffeine and alcohol
These detox plans may help you loose weight,, but this weight loss is water, glycogen (the body’s carbohydrate stores) and muscle loss, rather than fat. You may feel fatigued and dizzy and it’s likely you’ll have less energy.
At the end the program, when you return to your old eating habits, any weight lost is likely to come back on! (Technically a waste of time and energy)
“However, people often say they feel better when detoxing.”
Now why is that ? Good question !
Well, not smoking, avoiding alcohol, getting enough sleep, fresh air and exercise (which are few of the only healthy components of these detox plans) are the actual reason you feel any better.
We tend to forget that the body has its own detox system equipped with a detoxification system of its own, which includes the following:
- The skin: The main function of the body’s largest organ is to provide a barrier against harmful substances, from bacteria and viruses to heavy metals and chemical toxins.
- The immune system: The network of cells and molecules is designed to recognize foreign substances and eliminate them from the body. Components of the immune system are at work in blood plasma, in lymph, and even in the small spaces between cells.
- The intestines: Peyer’s patches — lymph nodes in the small intestine — screen out parasites and other foreign substances before nutrients are absorbed into the blood from the colon.
- The liver: Acting as the body’s principal filter, the liver produces a family of proteins called metallothioneins, which are also found in the kidneys. Metallothioneins not only metabolize dietary nutrients like copper and zinc but also neutralize harmful metals like lead, cadmium, and mercury to prepare for their elimination from the body. Liver cells also produce groups of enzymes that regulate the metabolism of drugs and are an important part of the body’s defense against harmful chemicals and other toxins.
- The kidneys: The fact that urine tests are used to screen for drugs and toxins is a testament to the kidneys’ remarkable efficiency in filtering out waste substances and moving them out of the body. As long as you aren’t overdosing on sugar and alcohol you don’t need to worry about toxins accumulating from your diet.
Detox diets are marketing myths rather than nutritional reality.
They sound like a great concept and it would be fabulous if they really delivered all that they promised! Unfortunately, many of the claims made by detox diet promoters are wild and exaggerated – it’s best to stick to the sound, sensible, science-based advice from qualified dietitians.
Concentrate on giving your body what it needs to maintain its robust self-cleaning system — a healthful diet, adequate fluid intake, regular exercise, sufficient sleep.
Credits: Balveen Kohli, Bushra Qureshi