January usually means detox diets. So should you take part in the craze?
A new year usually comes with a new detox diet. Whether they’re old or new though, detox diets are all designed to do the same thing – cleanse your body after a period of overindulgence. While detox diets are touted as a way to remove toxins from the body and kick-start weight loss, there isn’t any scientific evidence to suggest we actually need to detox. While a handful of clinical studies have shown that commercial detox diets enhance liver detoxification and eliminate persistent organic pollutants from the body, these studies are hampered by flawed methodologies and small sample sizes. At present, there are no randomized controlled trials (the best level of evidence) assessing the effectiveness of commercial detox diets.
Detox diets can vary from a simple plan of whole foods and the elimination of processed foods, caffeine, alcohol and refined sugars, through to a stricter, starvation-like diet that consists of only vegetable juices. But, whatever your style of detox diet it appears they’re not worth your dollars, as our body comes with an inbuilt system for the removal of waste products. Within hours of eating, our lungs, kidneys, liver, gastrointestinal tract and immune system remove or neutralize toxic substances within our body. Our bodies are pretty amazing!
As for the quick weight loss that comes with following a detox diet, it makes perfect sense that this happens seeing these diets drastically cut kilojoules, but the bad news is the weight lost is just as quickly regained. Side effects such as bad breath and fatigue aren’t signs that your body is getting rid of the toxins, they are in fact symptoms that you’re body is going into starvation mode. Other downsides of following a detox diet include the expense, stomach and bowel upsets and difficulties when socializing with family and friends.
Nevertheless, the detox industry is worth big dollars and many of us continue to flock towards a quick fix for our weight and wellbeing goals. While in most cases detox diets may do little harm says a 2005 report by Choice, they also don’t do a lot of good on their own. In reality, the best way to improve your health and wellbeing just isn’t that appealing – you need to dedicate yourself to changing your diet and lifestyle habits over the long-term.
If however you’re looking for a bit of a jump-start, you can follow these four tips:
- Include three good, clean meals a day: Enjoy a range of whole foods and ditch the processed ones. We’re talking lean protein such as fish, lean red meat and skinless poultry, wholegrain carbohydrates like brown rice and quinoa, fruit, vegetables and some healthy fats like nuts, seeds and avocado.
- Include a juice between meals: A vegetable juice like carrot, apple, celery, kale and ginger is a refreshing snack that helps you maximize your nutrient intake without excessive amounts of kilojoules. Remember to make it more veggie than fruit.
- Avoid binge sessions: Include a snack or two each day making sure they contain either fruit, nuts, Greek yoghurt or a veggie juice, but avoid having a huge binge. Whether they are healthy options or not, you won’t feel that fantastic afterwards if you have overdone it.
- Sweat once a day: The body loves to move – exercise boosts endorphins in the body making you feel good and helps aid digestion by helping to get things moving. Schedule in an exercise session each day.
About the author
Caitlin Reid is a unique health professional with qualifications as an accredited nutritionist, accredited exercise physiologist and yoga teacher. Caitlin is passionate about all things health and wellness, and keeps up-to-date with the latest health research, which she uses when contributing expert advice to health, fitness, lifestyle and food companies. She is also the nutrition expert for the Women’s Fitness magazine, the dietitian for the South Sydney Rabbitohs and ambassador for Papaya Australia. Follow Caitlin on Instagram @caitlinareid or visit her website.