“Should I do a Detox Diet?”

Ever felt worn out, tired, felt like you had been eating ‘terribly’ and that your body needed a cleanse? Ever thought about doing one of those detox diets for a few days – you know the ones; juice cleanses, lemon detox etc etc.

I’m here encouraging you not to.

Still with me?

After a close friend mentioned she was doing a juice detox the other day I was curious whether or not the benefits claimed online (on so many websites that don’t tell you where they are getting their ‘information’ from) were actually true. So I jumped online and googled away – and then looked into the actual research.

lemon-991085_1280Claim #1: Rest your Stomach

Let me begin with telling you how amazing your body is. Although I’m sure I could go on and on about how each one of you have your own unique attractive features – I’m talking about your insides. Your body is designed very cleverly to digest complex nutrients into smaller components that can be used by the body. Unless you have a serious health issue that is affecting your digestion and absorption and you are seeing a health professional, there is no science whatsoever behind the claim that you need to ‘rest your stomach’ from regular foods for it to ‘absorb nutrients better’.

Sidenote: alcohol consumption can interfere with absorption of certain vitamins. There are scientific studies sufficient to recommend resting your body from alcohol for at least 2 days every week. 

Claim #2: Rest the Liver

Again with the very amazing organs of the body: One of the main jobs of your liver is to detoxify your body and metabolise chemicals and nutrients. As toxins and pollutants enter your body, whether it be from the pig-out-party you had or the big night out you forever regret (or not), your liver works to get rid of them all. The main ‘toxins’ that you might come into contact with that actually have the potential to damage the liver is alcohol, chemicals that are used in agriculture and actual drugs. Whilst your liver actually has the ability to filter and excrete many of these toxins from your body, the best way to rest your liver is to eat a nutritious whole-foods diet including foods from all the five food groups whilst limiting those processed foods and alcohol.

Claim #3: Loose Weight

apple-with-measuring-tape-146297933276uThis is probably THE ONLY true claim made about ‘detox diets’. The reason this is true is
because of the extreme calorie restriction that most of these diets adhere to. No wonder you are still starving and hangry while you are doing them. This is an extremely unhealthy way to loose weight and because there is no intake of protein on most of these detox diets, most of the weight loss will be from lean muscle mass – rather than fat. If loosing weight is really a concern of yours it’s best to talk with a health professional and do it with small dietary changes that still enable you to consume all the necessary nutrients for your body and to progressively increase the amount of exercise you do.


Claim #4: Eliminate ‘harmful’ foods

I am all for this if you are talking about excess alcohol, excess refined sugar, excess saturated fats. But I don’t see the benefit of cutting out 3 of the 5 main food groups when there is a role for every one of them in the diet.

The problem I have with these detox diets are that for that period of time whether it be one day to a few weeks, you are missing out on many nutrients that your body needs daily to function properly. So not only are you depriving your body of those nutrients but you may also find yourself diving into a pit of depression as you miss out on eating your favourite foods. Each of the food groups represent a range of nutrients that are important for our bodies that can only be found in those foods and foods similar. Eating from all the food groups is not only based on decades of scientific research but it ensures that you get your array of vitamins and minerals and other nutrients that your body needs for nourishment. That sounds more detoxifying to me than not getting the nourishment my body needs.

carrot-juice-juice-carrots-vegetable-juice-162670Claim #5: Improved Energy

This claim I specifically found on a website that was an advocate for juice cleanses. Juice alone is not going to give you better energy. The reason that you may find that you feel more chirpy in the morning, more clear in the head and more alert is more likely due to the fact that you are removing processed foods from the diet whilst probably getting more vitamins and minerals your body has been craving if you are not usually an avid vegetable lover. Removal of foods like saturated fats, refined sugars and alcohol occur whilst on detox diets, however limiting these foods are also recommended in the Australian Dietary Guidelines.

So instead of depriving your body through detox diets, let your body do it’s thing. Ditch the juice cleanse and give your body the nourishment it really needs. Finding it difficult to eat more fruit and vegetables? This post is for you.

Have any questions about what you read? Want to hear about something specific? Write to me!

– Kirralee Waterhouse

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