Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Detox diets: Fad or Fabulous?

Seems like everyone and their mother is doing a detox diet or "cleanse" these days. And it seems like anyone with an audience is trying to bank in on this trend too - Gwenyth has the goop cleanse, Dr. Oz has the 48-hour weekend cleanse, Dr. Lissa Rankin has the pink and green detox cleanse, and of course, there are the juice cleanses - blueprint, organic avenue, and the master cleanse to name a few.

What exactly is "detox"or "cleanse" diet? They are extreme diet plans, mostly focused on weight loss, that claim to flush "toxins" out of your body. What "toxins" are they targeting, you ask? Well they don't exactly say. While there are a variety of different detox diets, they mostly follow the pattern of very low caloric intake, with the addition of small amounts of fruit and or vegetables, water, and supplements of one form or another.

So dear readers, I thought I would do a little research and see what the real deal is when it comes to the whole notion of detoxing. As usual, I started out with PubMed, a national citation warehouse for medical and scientific research. And guess what I found? Pretty much nothing. I searched cleanse diet, detox diet, and other such terms and came up with nothing. Nada. Zilch.

The fact that there have been NO studies done on detox or cleansing raises red flags for me. People spend a lot of money on many of these cleanses, and yet there is no scientific proof that any of them work. And in fact, many can even cause harm. Yup, these diets often cause you to fast, which puts your body into freak out mode, so you can actually lose muscle not just fat. And such a low-calorie diet can make you feel dizzy, tired, lightheaded, and nauseous. Add a colonic or colon cleanse to the mix and your body's electrolyte and fluid balance is completely off.

My two cents if you are feeling icky and want to give your system a "boost"? Eat loads of veggies and fruits, drink lots of water, and switch to whole grains. Minimize fatty meats and alcohol. Get your body moving. This is not a "diet", but just a healthier way of living that you can actually maintain.

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