The Deal With Detoxing

I’m sure you’ve seen lots of information on detox diets and their suggested benefits. From what I can gather there are two main camps in regard to detoxing or detox diets. The first is in support of following a very strict diet of vegetables fruit and water, that is supposed to, in theory, flush out toxins and impurities. The other camp is against “detox diets” suggesting that by changing your diet to a healthier regimen of whole foods, fruits, vegetables and the like that your body will take care of the rest and detoxify itself. So one is looked at as a quick fix, the other is focused on a lifestyle change that lets your body work the way it is supposed to. Let’s look at the two perspectives a little closer.

Detox Diets:

Everyone from WebMD to Dr. Oz have their own version of detoxifying diets or cleanses. Some suggest a weekend cleanse, others suggest long periods of fasting. The main idea is to provide your body with the main essential nutrients to keep it running while, with the help of water flush all the congested yucky stuff out of your body. Some cleanses suggest taking herbal laxatives and colonics to help keep things moving. As added benefit of completing a fast or cleanse has been said to have spiritual or psychological effects. People like the idea of creating a clean slate, and purification rituals.

The problem with these sorts of cleanses it that it causes a shock to your system, creating a body that goes into starvation and survival mode. Some people have the preconception that they will lose a bunch of weight doing a cleanse, which may be initially true, but the weight lost is most often water weight. Now you have two problems on your hands, you gain back your water weight, and since your body is in shock it acts to preserve itself by storing calories. Also we have to be a little skeptical whenever someone is trying to sell something as a “cure all”.


Nutritional Re-Balancing/Lifestyle Changes:

Here’s where the other camp suggests that if you want to truly detoxify your system it is going to take time, and dedication to changing your eating habits and lifestyle. They suggest that quick fix cleanses only make matters worse, because they provide a false sense of accomplishment, making it more likely for you to return to your bad eating habits. Why go through starvation in order to feel like you have a “clean slate” to just eat like crap again? Mark Sisson from Mark’s Daily Apple wrote a great blog on cleanses and their lack of scientific proof of efficacy. He also claims that once on the Paleo diet, your body will take care of flushing out toxins by itself. We have amazing built in cleansing systems, like our liver, kidneys, circulatory system, lymphatic system, etc. As long as we stop putting garbage in, we should let our body do its job and take out the trash.

My advice is to skip the cleanses they try to sell you, and make a more permanent lifestyle change. It’s like I’ve said before you don’t put the cheap gas in your Aston Martin!

What has your experience with cleanses or detox diets been? Maybe I’m all wrong and just haven’t found the right one yet. Leave a comment and let me know!


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