The old adage ‘you are what you eat’ has plenty of truth to it. Diet is one of the most important factors when it comes to our health, so it’s no surprise that people are always looking for new ways to get their nutrients. But what if there was a diet that, in addition to giving you essential vitamins and minerals, actually removed harmful toxins from your body in a process known as a detox or cleanse? It certainly sounds like a health hack we could all take advantage of! The question is, are these detoxes simply too good to be true?
Let’s take a look at some of the most popular detox diets and cleanses trending today and see whether they could help – or hurt – your health.
Cutting solid foods from your diet sounds like a radical prospect. Nevertheless, “juicing” – consuming only fruit juices or smoothies – is one of the most popular cleanses available. In fact, plenty of companies offer their very own pre-packaged juice cleanses, typically designed to last from 3 to 10 days (although some encourage weeks of detoxing). So, what is it about these liquid detox diets that make them so attractive to health bloggers and influencers?
For one, the health benefits that come from a fruit and vegetable focused diet are undeniable. Health experts encourage “5 A Day” for a reason: eating your greens provides you with a wealth of vitamins and minerals that are vital for bodily function. Freshly squeezed juices or smoothies chock full of plant goodness seem like a simple, easy and low calorie way to get the nutrients you need. The problem arises when you cut out everything else in your diet, and just rely on these liquid substitutes.
Juices in particular lack the amount of fiber, fats and proteins sufficient to fuel our body. Without these key elements, liquid cleanses fail to give us satiety – that sense of fullness that helps control our appetite. You’ll also be running low on calories, as most juice cleanses run under 1,000 calories daily. There’s also the issue of sugar content. Whole fruits contain roughage to slow the absorption of fructose into your body. Juices and smoothies lack this fibre, causing your blood sugar to spike and then drop after drinking. This erratic reaction can lead to energy slumps and feelings of hunger.
When we think about detoxing, let’s not forget that our body has its own natural cleansing method: the liver. This vital organ helps filter out toxins and waste that has no business in our bloodstream. So what if we could curate a diet that ‘super charges’ our liver, improving its detoxifying function in order to cleanse us more effectively? Liver cleanses are designed to do exactly this, and in theory they sound like a great way to recover from a week of partying!
Liver detoxes can involve a variety of dietary restrictions, including fasting and the ingestion of various herbal supplements. By following a strict regimen over a few days, the detox is intended to reduce toxin ingestion, giving the liver a break and allowing it to repair and improve its performance. Sounds good, but do we have the evidence to support the claims?
Some people swear by supplements such as milk thistle and turmeric. The milk thistle contains seeds bursting with Silymarin, a chemical with antioxidant and anti inflammatory properties. The research results are mixed – while the thistle could help with inflammation and repair, it can’t combat diseases such as Hepatitis. Similarly, turmeric is also said to have a protective effect on the liver, reducing the impact of toxins and the risk of inflammation.
But there’s no reason to subsist on herbal supplements alone. You’re almost certainly better off including them alongside a balanced diet. Long term lifestyle changes are far more impactful than temporary cleanses when it comes to preventing liver disease – that includes drinking less, consuming plenty of fiber and protein, and keeping a healthy weight.
Colon cleanses aren’t detox diets per se, but they are often undertaken for the same reasons as juicing or liver detoxes – to flush out toxins and remove a build up of waste from the body. In this case, the focus is less on what enters your mouth, and more on what exits the other end!
Also known as colonic irrigation or hydrotherapy, colon cleanses typically involve flooding the colon with water to manually remove the waste inside. It’s thought that this process can be a quick way to relieve congestion, digestive issues, constipation and bloating. It’s a procedure that can be offered professionally, but more and more people are doing their own colon cleanses from home. A home remedy that can flush toxins and waste out of your body may sound appealing, there are plenty of risks that should give you pause before attempting any sort of colon cleanse.
Without professional assistance from a colonic hygienist, you may perform the cleanse incorrectly, which in some cases can lead to pretty severe health consequences. For one, it can remove fluids from your body, leading to dehydration. This can be compounded further with the side effect of diarrhea. Some people have also reported unpleasant stomach cramps. If the cleanse really goes awry, things can get serious. Electrolytes can become imbalanced, chemicals vital for the health of our cells. This can cause fainting and even liver damage. There is also the risk of bacterial infection, and the nightmare situation of bowel perforation, a medical emergency.
These scenarios may be unlikely, but are they worth risking? If you’re looking to colon cleanse, it seems best to see a professional. Otherwise, there is plenty you can include in your diet to boost your colon health, such as eating foods rich in soluble and insoluble fiber – try wholegrains, root vegetables, as well as beans, pulses and lentils.
The Pros & Cons Of Detox Diets
- Detox diets often consist of foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals, and low in trans and saturated fats.
- Detoxes generally cut out processed foods and drinks.
- Liquid based detoxes hydrate effectively if you are absorbing sufficient calories.
- Detoxes and cleanses could encourage you to start including healthier foods and supplements into your diet, as well as helping you get a better feel for how your body responds to different ways of eating.
- Detox diets rarely include enough daily calories to sustain you.
- Juice and smoothie based cleanses are high in sugar.
- Abstaining from a balanced consumption of solid foods can lead to negative health effects such as loss of water, erratic blood sugar levels, low satiety, and reduced energy levels.
- Colon cleanses without the aid of a professional can lead to significant health risks.
- The liver naturally detoxifies the body, with little evidence that cleanses make a positive difference to liver function.
- Many detox diet claims aren’t supported by current medical evidence.
Looking For A Boost In Well-Being?
Detox or not, different diet trends can often become a source of confusion. Diets typically come down to whatever works for you, as not all methods suit everybody. Nutrition science is a pretty advanced subject, so it’s no wonder we can struggle to pin it down. It’s also important to remember that food isn’t the only way to get the nutrients your body needs.
If you’re looking for a more direct way to boost your health, Get A Drip offers a range of IV drips and booster shots that help keep you at your best. Whether you’re looking to strengthen your immune system with Vitamin D, top up on powerful anti-oxidants such as Vitamin C or simply rejuvenate and refresh using our Hydration drips, we’ve got you covered.
It’s important to remember that health can start from home. Whether you’re using our call out service or ordering natural medication through eco-friendly online pharmacies like e-Surgery, expert healthcare really can arrive right on your doorstep!
Advice from the experts
“Whilst detox plans are quickly gaining popularity, it should be noted that many of these regiments lack compelling evidence of health benefits and can pose negative side effects. You should always involve your regular GP when making any drastic changes to your diet, and especially before starting to take any herbal products. Many herbal preparations are not standardised for active constituents and can interact with other medication you might be taking.”
-Dr Oskar Wendowski e-Surgery Superintendant Pharmacist