Detox Diets: the good, the bad & the UGLY!

Many thanks to Dr Lauren for this blog post – enjoy!

How many times have you said to yourself

“I need a detox!”

After a holiday?

After a sociable summer full of weddings and BBQs?

After the festive season?

And how often have you signed up to the latest diet claiming to “eliminate toxins and speed up weight loss” ?

“Detox diets” are big business – and business is BOOMING…

But are they necessary?

Do they work?

And even more importantly, ARE THEY SAFE?

So-called detox diets are short term nutrition programmes supposedly designed to eliminate toxins, aid losing weight and promote health.

This market offers a whole spectrum of protocols and approaches – but do you even need to worry about toxins in the first place?

Part of the problem is that what the “detox” market means by toxin is ambiguous at best.

They are not specifically identified nor are the means by which any given detox diet will help you eliminate them.

In medicine, toxins are specific chemicals or compounds which are known to cause harm – such as drugs and alcohol. “Detox” is the process of weaning people off addictive substances.

In the commercial market this has been muddied and has expanded.

So “toxins” now include commonplace components of daily life like sugar, processed foods, alcohol, certain heavy metals (like mercury) and persistent organic pollutants which are widely used industrial chemicals.

An InBuilt Detox System

In truth, your body already has highly evolved and effective organ systems for toxin elimination.

Like via your liver, kidneys, gut, skin and lungs.

The means of elimination depends on the chemical involved.

There is nothing to support the suggestion that these mechanisms are enhanced by detox diets. We cleanse OURSELVES – and we do it from the INSIDE OUT.

And how about weight loss – the holy grail of the commercial diet?

Currently there are NO studies exploring the weight loss claims of detox diets.

Given how popular they are this an area that requires investigation.

But if you have ever been on one of these diets ask yourself this – how did you feel?

There is good anecdotal evidence that these diet programmes are STRESSFUL!

Not a surprise given that they are low on energy and nutrients – an automatic stress to the body…….increasing the master hormone cortisol and stimulating appetite –

So not exactly the optimal internal environment for weight loss!

Advocates of detox diets will warn about “side effects” due to “toxins leaving the body” –

headache, nausea, fatigue, anxiety, shakiness and insomnia.

Sound like fun to you?

I didn’t think so and they might even cause you real harm –

When you consider the risks of energy restriction, malnutrition and possible overdose of supplements, laxatives or even water…..you may want to think again…

Why then are detox diets so popular?

Probably down to psychology – our minds are powerful and global marketing speaks directly to them!

A lot of the time we’re not even aware of it…..

Especially in a culture where food is associated with sin, guilt and contamination,  renewal and cleansing are strongly attractive.

This is reflected in the language increasingly used to describe and market detox diets. Maybe even the label of “clean eating” feeds into this.

To date there is a real lack of appropriate regulation surrounding these products – which is unfortunate when you think about the the financial costs to consumers, unsubstantiated claims made by proponents and the potential health risks of commercial detox diets…..

But that’s a conversation for another day!

For now, it is enough to say that there is no compelling evidence for use of detox diets. They are unhealthy, ineffective and potentially dangerous, not to mention being unsustainable – you can’t keep doing them!

The Natural Alternative to Detox Diets

So what’s the alternative??

You of course still want the (perceived) benefits of detox diets…..

But you need a smarter, sustainable, approach to nutrition for weight loss and healthy wellbeing.

Next time you are going to prep a meal, ask yourself the following question:

Is what I am about to eat NATURAL or MAN MADE?

Applying this simple ARETE PRINCIPLE will aid detox by working with your body’s physiology.

It really is possible – and at The Arete Academy we will support you all the way, however you choose to work with us.

DR LAUREN