On Health: Debunking detox diets

On Health  Joyce Chang -
On Health Joyce Chang
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A detox diet supposedly gets rid of toxins from the body, helping you to cleanse your system and to lose weight in the process, according to the School of Public Health of University of California, Berkeley.

The British Dietetic Association includes more claims from proponents, such as boosting energy levels and your immune system, as well as giving new life to your skin, hair, and nails, even getting rid of cellulite.

Detox diets differ from one to another, but most advocate for at least a short-term fast paired with lots of raw vegetables, fruits, and water.  Dairy, wheat, processed foods, alcohol, and caffeine are usually outlawed.

Does this concoction work, or is it time to leave it in the past?

Your body already has several ways of removing harmful substances: your liver, skin, intestines, kidneys, and lungs.

For example, the body recognizes alcohol as a toxin. Without your liver, you would not be able to breakdown the alcohol.

Without your kidneys, there would be no way for alcohol to leave your body.

These major organs allow you to have a few drinks without being rushed to the hospital for alcohol poisoning.

What about less obvious toxins, such as pesticides or heavy metals? Don’t they hurt your body too?

If you actually reached levels of insecticide toxicity, you would experience heart problems, tearing of your eye tissue, coughing, and breathing difficulties, according to doctors Gerald F. O’Malley and Rika O’Malley on Merck Manuals.

This requires real medication, like atropine as treatment, not drinking fresh juices or avoiding pizza.

Dietitians of Canada adds that detox dieting often or for extended periods of time can cause dangerous side effects. Their list includes changes in electrolyte levels, dehydration, low blood sugar, low or high blood pressure, medication interactions, vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

Those who follow a detox diet may feel good because they’re cutting out some junk foods and eating less. However, it is a restrictive diet to maintain, is misleading, can be unnecessarily expensive if you buy useless products, and may actually hurt your body.

You don’t need detoxifying diets or special detox drinks – there’s no evidence to back up this trend.

Some ways to help yourself feel better if you’re feeling blue this time of year:

• Get enough sleep. When you’re sleep deprived, everything feels terrible.

• Get some fresh air. Move a bit. Change your surroundings.

• Get social- spend time with people who encourage and uplift you. Friends and family are there to support you.

• Get hydrated and go for more fruits and vegetables. Don’t cut out whole food groups –  keep grains, lean protein, dairy, and beans and legumes in your life.

Your body can get rid of bad toxins just fine by itself.


Joyce Chang is a graduate of the

dietetics program at McGill University and has experience in clinical and community nutrition in hospitals and schools


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