Using a natural detox diet to remove toxins and poisons from your body might sound like a good idea. After all, what could be better than eating pure and natural foods and avoiding processed and refined ones?
Certainly, there's something to these ideas. But there's also more than meets the eye. The rising interest in lifestyle enhancement has also ushered in many misconceptions about toxins and about the best way to clear them from the body. Fueling the confusion is a major marketing blitz by authors of diet books and producers of supplements and other detoxifying products.
By Helen Kirwan-Taylor
Many years ago I had a falling-out with a girlfriend that proved so painful, I can hardly talk about it today. My friend (let's call her Mary) was a colorful television personality and had the world at her feet. She was engaged to a handsome European, and her face was plastered across the newspapers. I was working for 60 Minutes at the time, and we often met for lunch. Then one day her show was canceled and she asked me - casually, as though it didn't really matter...
Most natural liver detox diets lack science to support them. Additionally, detox diets are very restrictive and can cause harm if they're not used with care. Here's what you need to know.
What Is the Idea Behind Detox Diets?
The idea for detox diets comes from the concern that toxins are constantly bombarding our bodies. Toxins are chemicals with potentially harmful effects. While some toxins are more obvious, such as pesticides or smog, some people consider even seemingly normal substances to be toxins. They may come from many sources, including:
pesticides or other chemicals used to grow or prepare food
smog or other substances in the air
substances such as artificial sweeteners added to food
The belief is that the body holds onto toxins in the digestive, lymph, or gastrointestinal system as well as in skin and hair. They, then, can cause problems such as fatigue, headaches, nausea, and a wide range of chronic diseases.
What Is a Detox Diet?
Detox diets are designed to help the body rid itself of toxins. To attempt this, you temporarily give up certain kinds of foods. This is called fasting or purging. Then you gradually reintroduce foods. For example, you might start with a liquid diet for one or two days. Then you might move to four or five days of brown rice, fruit, and steamed vegetables. Finally, you might add other foods, except red meat, wheat, sugar, eggs, and prepackaged or junk food.
In general, organic foods and drinks and lots of water are required on a natural detox diet. And alcohol, caffeine, tobacco, drugs, processed or refined foods, and certain supplements are not allowed.
In some cases, a detox diet is paired with changes in lifestyle, which is also meant to foster the cleansing of toxins from the body. Saunas and exercise might also be recommended to increase sweating, another way thought to purge the body of certain substances.
These are examples of popular detox diets:
Master Cleanse or Lemonade Diet
Fat Flush Diet
Liver Cleanse Diet
Martha's Vineyard Diet Detox
Raw Food Diet
In some cases, people suggest using cleansing products or herbs to "purify" the liver and help it work more effectively. Or, you might be asked to do a colon irrigation to clean out your colon. This involves using an enema or having a practitioner clear the colon with up to 20 gallons of water through a tube inserted into the rectum.