Detox diets are all the rage. But do they actually work?
Debunking the myths around detox diets.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard a lot about detoxing and detox diets. Whether it’s a juice cleanse, an excellent restrictive diet, or a tea regimen, detox is something that has gained considerable traction among health watchers, with some claiming, that detoxes can facilitate your melt off. But how much of this is true and how does one separate the wheat from the chaff?
Yoga and Ayurveda lifestyle specialist and founder of Yoganama, Namita Piparaiya, and celebrity nutritionist Suman Agarwal of Selfcare by Suman help debunk common myths around detox and detox diets. Read on to find out more.
What are Detox Diets?
Rather than focussing on healthy eating, detox diets tend to involve a highly restrictive diet for a brief period of time. This might include fasting, eating fruits and vegetables only, surviving on liquids, taking herbal supplements or laxatives, or eliminating alcohol and caffeine. A detox can have an enormous impact on your body, but not necessarily in the way you hope, says Piparaiya.
It’s hard to escape advertisements for detox diets, especially after you have overindulged or if you’re working towards that coveted summer body for holidays. Even so, with our health, it is important to make informed decisions, rather than opting for a fast – and often desperate – fix.
Here’s what you need to know.
Myth: Your body needs external help to detox
Fact: The term detox was originally used by medical professionals to treat patients with dangerously high levels of poisonous substances, like alcohol. However, for most of us, our bodies can already do that on their own, clarifies Piparaiya. Our kidneys, liver, lungs, and even, skin, all help in detoxing the body naturally. The liver, for example, combines toxins with amino acids so they can be removed from the liver through bile or urine. To that end, all you really need is a wholesome diet and a balanced lifestyle, to facilitate these natural phenomena. Echoing this, Agarwal shares, “We don’t need to go on any extreme detox diets as this affects the stomach lining and is not advisable. Our body naturally is mechanized to do the detoxing for us.”
Myth: Detoxes can restore health
Fact: If it involves giving up on unnecessary calories through processed food, sweets, and highly processed carbohydrates, then a detox can certainly help restore our health. But if the diet is about extreme fasts, like drinking only specific fluids, then such a diet can prove to be counterproductive,” Agarwal cautions.
Myth: Detoxing is safe
Fact: “Detox diets may be dangerous. While they might result in immediate weight loss, one can gain those pounds back, just as easily,” Pipariya tells us. “This can disturb your bacterial balance in the gut,” Agarwal shares, adding that some diets are also extreme, where you’re going without sufficient nutrition or food for prolonged periods of time. This could, in turn, impact your sugar and sodium levels and prove to be detrimental to your health.
Myth: Weight loss from detox is sustainable
Fact: Weight loss from detox is definitely not sustainable and it always comes back, believes Agarwal. She says that while you may shed some kilos, it could be due to loss in fluids and lean muscle mass, instead of body fat. “Also, weight loss from these kinds of diets cause other harmful health issues such as poor digestion in the long run, low immunity, the possibility of hair loss, muscle loss and can also cause aches and pains,” Agarwal says.
A sustainable weight loss program would require incorporating holistic changes into your lifestyle. Because detoxes by nature are short-term, understandably, the results from it are also short-lived, the celebrity nutritionist says. In that sense, it’s wiser to practice eating in moderation and support your journey towards good health, with exercise, yoga, or meditation.
Here are a few things Agarwal suggests you could do to ensure overall health and abstain from giving into and extreme diets that lead you astray in your journey towards mindful living.
- Reduce your intake of unhealthy processed foods, sugary drinks, and alcohol.
- Focus on balanced meals and follow a satisfying, low-carb diet which will lead to more long-term benefits, such as improved health, higher metabolism, good gut health, and sometimes, weight loss, too.
- Turn to a healthy, plant-based diet of lean proteins, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
- Get at least 150 minutes of exercise a week. You can try different exercises like walking, jogging, swimming, dancing, or playing sports and find one that you enjoy.
- Get 7-9 hours of sleep every night and develop a sleep routine that you stick to every night before bed.