What is Detox Diet?
“Detox diet”. If you have ever run a Google search even remotely related to health and fitness, chances are you’ve come across this term more than once. But what is this detox diet? In a nutshell, detox diets are short-term meal plans that are designed to remove excess toxins from the body through the consumption of particular foods such as vegetables, fruits, and juices while completely eliminating others, while also involve the use of laxatives, diuretics, vitamins, minerals, teas, and other foods thought to have detoxifying properties. They can span anywhere between a day and a few weeks.
This practice of an abrupt and extreme alteration of one’s regular diet has drawn flak from several nutritionists and wellness experts over the years but it is important to keep in mind that the idea of a detox diet is born from the fact that our body is frequently exposed to toxic substances, especially since packaged and processed foods have become the go-to. Fortunately, the human body is capable of removing these toxic substances by itself, without additional help.
The body’s detoxification system is made up of six organs- the skin, respiratory system, liver, kidneys, gastrointestinal system, and the lymphatic system that work to eliminate toxins. Therefore, when a normally functioning body is subject to this drastic change, it is left confused and weakened. This is what experts mean when they call detox diets an “unnecessary fad” that does more harm than good to the body.
While detox diets may seem tempting, their benefits have more to do with eliminating unhealthy foods than magically vanquishing toxins overnight.
Most detox diets on the internet are designed as quick-fixed that blantantly ignore this fact and as a result are potentially dangerous cleanses that may have the following side effects-
Some detox diets may pose the risk of overdosing on supplements, laxatives, diuretics, and even water. Too much water can end up lowering sodium levels in blood causing nausea, vomiting, headache, confusion, tiredness, muscle cramps, seizures, or coma and in some instances maybe life-threatening.
Extreme calorie deficit-
A few detox diets suggest abstaining from food causing a serious calorie limitation. Short-term fasting and low calory intake could bring about weariness, crabbiness, and foul breath. Long- term fasting can bring about nutrient, and mineral insufficiencies which if severe enough can even result in death. Moreover, colon purging strategies that make use of enema are suggested under some detox diets. These can end up causing dehydration, swelling, sickness, nausea and vomiting.
Most detox diets are created for healthy adults without underlying medical issues and if undertaken by at-risk populations like children, adolescents, older adults, those who are malnourished, pregnant or lactating women, and people who have blood sugar issues, such as diabetes or an eating disorders, can cause serious harm.
That being said, there is no denying that detox diets have a good number of benefits if done the right.
Start with determining if you need a detox in the first place! Here are some signs that you might need one-
You’re tired all the time-
It’s the middle of the day and you just can’t seem to get out of first gear. No matter how well you’ve rested the previous night, you just can’t help feeling fatigued. Does this sound like you? A detox may be in order!
You have digestive issues-
Are you constantly constipated or bloated? This is one of the most obvious signs that you need a detox. Your constant discomfort could be a sign that your gut is overwhelmed. Give it a break, your stomach will thank you for it.
You crave sugar-
Do you find yourself constantly on the lookout for some sweet treats? Have you ever caught yourself raiding the kitchen for cookies in the middle of the night? It has been proven by studies that eating whole foods with nutrients (that processed, high-sugar foods lack) will gradually eliminate cravings for sugar.
You have started to develop skin problems-
The skin is the window to the human body. You will be astonished by how to articulate skin can be, by changing to indicate that a part of the body is in distress. If you have noticed an unusual increase in your acne, breakouts, dry or flaky skin, it might be your body’s cry for help.
Your allergies are flaring up more often than usual-
Sinuses are an extension of your digestive system. If you are experiencing frequent bouts of sickness, it might well be a sign of a weakened immune system.
Your hormones are going haywire-
If you have been experiencing severe mood swings, it could be due to the production of your hormones has been tampered with. This is more common than you would think, the most common cause being a sedentary lifestyle combined with a bad diet.
You’re not able to sleep well-
Irregularities in hormone production often upset circadian rhythms. By eliminating toxins and bringing back your hormone production under control, you’ll be sleeping like a baby in no time.
You often get cold sores-
This too is an indication of a weakened immune system. The simplex HSV-1 is a virus that lays dormant in many of us. When there is a weakened immune system, it tends to strike. A detox diet, if done right, could help boost the immune system and keep such pathogens at bay.
Not every detox has to be sophisticated or hard on you, it is possible to detox at home without any hassles.
If you checked off more than one of the symptoms above, find out how to give yourself a detox the right way below-
GO ON A SLEEPING BINGE-
Start off with the easiest way that there is- pull down the blinds, cozy up in a cool room and get a good 10 hours of sleep. You will not only have a fresh canvas to start your cleanse, but will also be renewing your body’s ability to heal and fight off all the toxins and pathogens by reducing cortisol(the hormone responsible for stress) production. In order to ensure uninterrupted sleep, try taking a warm shower right before you hit the bed and set your room to a comfortable temperature.
START YOUR DAY WITH A GLASS OF WATER-
This is the most obvious thing to do, given that our bodies go almost 7-8 hours without hydration but it is a step that most tend to overlook. Be sure to start your day with a fresh glass of water and your body, mind, and skin will thank you for it. Don’t forget to stay hydrated throughout the day! However, steer clear of water or other liquids for up to an hour before bed as it can prompt bathroom breaks and end up interrupting your sleep.
TAKE STRETCH BREAKS BETWEEN WORK-
Try and take a 5 minute break every hour and move around, especially if your job involves a lot of sitting. What does this have to do with detox? Moving and stretching expedite your natural metabolism.
STAY AWAY FROM SODAS AND COLAS-
Instead, reach for bloat-busting beverages like herbal teas, broths or simply sip on a cup of hot water. You will be surprised to find that these work better than “energy” drinks in lifting up your mood.
GO EASY ON THE ALCOHOL-
To our bodies, alcohol is and will always be a toxin, which means when we ingest it, our bodies tend to metabolize it on priority. So the next time you find yourself reaching for that Mimosa at brunch, remember that while your body is busy ingesting all that alcohol, the other calories you consume will end up being stored as fat.
EAT ANTIOXIDANT RICH FOODS-
Consuming foods with antioxidants aids the body in reducing damage caused by free radicals and lowers risks of diseases from exposure to toxins. Vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin are all antioxidants and can be found abundantly in dark grapes, dark raisins, goji berries, blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, strawberries, dark chocolate, pecans, Walnut, etc.
DECREASE SALT INTAKE-
Ingesting excess salt leads to water retention in the body. This can be prevented by adding Potassium-rich foods to your diet. Potatoes, squash, kidney beans, bananas, and spinach are all sources of Potassium.
EAT SULFUR CONTAINING FOODS AND CLEAN UP WITH CILANTRO-
Foods high in sulfur, such as onions, broccoli, and garlic, expedite the passing off of heavy metals that are bad for the body. Flavoring your food with cilantro will also enhance the excretion of heavy metals like lead and also pesticides and insecticides previously ingested by the body.
START USING NATURAL CLEANERS-
Using natural cleaning agents like lime, baking soda or white vinegar can drastically reduce your exposure to chemicals. You can also gradually switch over to natural cosmetics to detoxify your skin too.
The best way to detoxify is to eat fresh and clean and adopt a lifestyle that is beneficial to you in the long run.
However, if you decide to go ahead with a more seductive and quick-fix detox plan off the internet, be sure to consult your doctor before using any laxatives, chemicals or adversely altering your diet as it may have adverse effects.