Discover the benefits of detoxing

A dietary detox follows the concept of cleansing the body of toxins by eliminating certain foods, loading up on fresh fruit and vegetables, avoiding alcohol and caffeine, and rehydrating with plenty of water, for a set period of time. Often a detox can result in quick weight loss and increased energy.

What it is

A detox is a diet plan that requires you to follow a particular diet over a certain period of time in order to cleanse the body. It may also include herbal supplements or other methods, such as colonic irrigation, all of which aim to remove environmental and dietary toxins from the body. There are various extremes of detox diets from juice-only type regimens to those that simply stipulate consuming unprocessed foods only particularly organic foods and foods high in fibre and water, while eliminating all sugars, salt, caffeine and alcohol.

What toxins are

Toxins are agents that can potentially harm the body. External (exogenous) toxins are things such as pollution from cars, cigarette smoke, factories and foods; endogenous toxins are viral or bacterial infections and autogenous toxins result from normal cell activity in the body that produce compounds such as lactic acid and ammonia.

What detox diet proponents say

Periodic cleansing is needed to flush toxins from the body that if left to accumulate will lead to health problems such as headaches, sluggishness and chronic diseases.

What the medical experts say

The body already has systems in place that protect us from potentially harmful substances. The liver, intestines, kidneys, lungs, skin, blood and lymphatic systems are all designed to work together to ensure any dangerous toxins are chemically transformed into less harmful compounds that are then excreted from the body.

Will a detox make me feel better?

Those who normally eat an unhealthy diet will naturally feel better when they start eating properly. Most people don't drink enough water or eat enough fresh fruit and vegetables anyway, so simple changes such as boosting hydration and eliminating processed foods will lead to an increased sense of wellbeing.

Will it help me lose weight?

Weight loss through detox diets is usually short-term, as these diets aren't sustainable. Having completed the diet, most people feel they can go back to eating what they want anyway and return to their pre diet weight. Other claimed benefits of detoxing, such as helping relieve headaches, are more likely to be linked to lifestyle changes such as not drinking alcohol or coffee. Reduced bloating, for example, is probably just a result of eating less while better skin may be due to drinking more fluids.

Are detox diets dangerous?

Experts say that the biggest danger with detox diets is that they often don't provide enough nutrients. Insufficient carbohydrates can drain you of energy. Other downsides may include blood sugar problems, fatigue, nausea and a decrease in the body's ability to fight infection. Laxatives are not advised and colonic irrigation is deemed unnecessary and may result in bowel infection or perforation.

In summary

Our bodies have an amazing detox system already in place and there's no need to spend on expensive treatments and products. A better and more sustainable investment in your health would be to eat more natural foods, cut back on sugar, salt, additives, caffeine and alcohol and follow the 80/20 rule of sticking to healthy diet the majority of the time but allowing yourself the occasional treat.

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