Is it healthy to detox?

Is it healthy to detox?

Detox. It’s virtually impossible to read any popular publication without mention of the D-word. Cleansing our bodies of toxins and impurities seem to be a national obsession.

Detoxes come in all shapes and sizes: long ones, short ones, food based, juice based, fasting, 3-day, week-long, body and mind detox. Determining which is the best one or whether it’s even right for you can a challenge.

So, let’s review 4 of the most popular detox diets touted to help people shed unwanted pounds quickly:

1. Master Cleanse [Maple Syrup] detox
Made with hot water, lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper and meant to be drank for 10-14 days with no food intake. Beyonce apparently lost 20 pounds with this regime.

 Nutritionist opinion: Not eating slows down one's metabolic rate. While you may see the possibility of quick weight loss, there is a rebound weight gain factor - which happens just as rapidly. Yo-yo dieting changes the body’s fat "set point," caused by the body’s perception of starvation, so that it progressively holds onto more fat.

2. FREE detox
Sugar-free. Wheat-free. Caffeine-free. Dairy-free. Detox that ask for the elimination of certain foods for a set period of time.

 Nutritionist opinion: While in principle these detoxes are generally good. The key is to gradually ease into and out of them. For the most effective results, it’s best to eliminate one food at a time, with the aim to identify what is your most limiting food.

Do you get bloated with wheat consumption, or is it with dairy? Once you have identified the culprit, then best to eliminate or substantially reduce your consumption in the future.

3. Juicing
Purported by health and yoga gurus as the mecca of detoxing.

 Nutritionist opinion: If you juice for more than a weekend, then best to do it in a controlled environment. Whilst juicing helps to "rest" your digestive system, when used over an extended period of time getting enough nutrients and fibres for a balanced diet is questionable.

Especially when you are maintaining your regular life commitments. Juicing primarily with fruits also means a high intake of sugars. Green juices - with an 80 / 20 - veggie / fruit mix, are most effective.

4. Metabolic clearing detox
This comes in many forms, often with nutrients / supplements to cleanse the liver and colon.

 Nutritionist opinion: It’s best to have this detox supervised by a health professional. If you decide to get a box off the shelf, be mindful of the use of certain herbs, such as senna, that if used too often to artificially stimulate the digestive system, can be harmful.

This makes the body reliant on an external stimulus as well as potentially flushing certain essential nutrients from your system.

What’s the best detox & when should you do it?
Ridding the body of toxins should be a daily endeavour. You can do this in two ways, firstly with the inclusion of detoxifying foods such as:
 Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables which help the body’s phase 2 liver detoxification.

 Use lemon and warm water to start the day, as lemon helps the liver to make bile.

 Drink lots of water (1,5 litres daily) and include hydrating and alkalising foods such as cucumber to support elimination.

 Eat more fibres, such as oats, to help the body bind and eliminate toxins.

Secondly, you can rid your body of toxins with the exclusion or reduction of toxic foods. Be mindful to select foods with less pesticides and preservatives.

You can do this by limiting your intake of processed foods: saturated fats and refined sugars, such as cakes, cookies, store bought packaged products, pizzas, meats and soft cheeses, among other naughties. Reducing your consumption of colas, alcohol and sugary fruit juices will also help you along the path to rid yourself of toxins.

If you are hooked on the concept of a once a year "clear out" (detox), I would recommend that you try the "Free detox." Slowly and gradually reduce your intake of certain foods and incorporating a healthy green juice into your everyday eating plan will help the detoxification process.

Think of detoxing as a support to an already healthy lifestyle, not a saviour. Here is a recipe for a green detox juice:
› 1 handful spinach
 1/2 handful watercress
 2 tablespoon lemon juice
 1 celery stalk
 1 apple
 1-inch slice of ginger
Ideally use a juicer or if using a blender combine the ingredients and add water.

What detox has worked for you? Please share your thoughts below!

Kyrin Hall, PhD


Kyrin Hall, PhD

I am a Clinical Nutritionist and TV Health Journalist. For TEDx 2014, I did a workshop on Food for the Brain. I truly believe that ~ the right choices of...

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