Do Detox Diets Work?

The Detox StrategyBy Kristin Sidirov

Detox diets are a popular alternative health trend designed to help you lose weight, feel better, and purge your body of harmful contaminants and excess fat. Sounds pretty great, right? Millions of dieters, including celebrities like Bethenny Frankel, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Demi Moore, believe it does. Forget the fact that most varieties of the diet require strictly following regimens that seem both unnatural and, well, gross (the Master Cleanse includes consuming nothing but lemon juice, cayenne pepper, maple syrup, and laxatives for a minimum of 10 days) - it's hard to deny that at the end of the day, "detoxifying" sounds refreshingly healthy. But what exactly does it mean? And is it even necessary?

Pollution, alcohol, processed food, and caffeine can all take their toll on our bodies. Impossible to avoid and undeniably harmful, these everyday elements are thought to be the source of many health problems, especially if left unattended to over time. Detox diets aim to cleanse the body, eliminating toxins and repairing damage, jump-starting weight loss and boosting energy.

Sound too good to be true? It just might be. Health experts will be quick to tell you that there is no science backing claims that detox diets remove toxins from the body. What science can prove is that the human body is actually pretty good at detoxifying itself naturally. The liver and kidneys function to do just that. And while fasting is nothing new, medical professionals warn of the health risks that can come along with extreme dietary restrictions and programs designed to eliminate the body of its contents too quickly and too often. Dehydration, mineral and nutritional imbalances, muscular breakdown, and unsuccessful long-term weight loss are all potential side effects of a detox diet gone wrong, not to mention the fatigue, headaches, and nausea that go along with them.

That said, detox diets do highlight some key health and weight loss issues. Being aware of what you put in your body is essential to your health, and today, it is a practice that is quickly becoming all but forgotten. It's important to be conscious of your alcohol and caffeine intake, as well as the amount of processed foods, fat, and nutrients you consume daily.

Less extreme versions of the detox diet can be a great health tool, both mentally and physically. Detox plans can be great way to jump-start a health and fitness routine and refocus your eating habits. But making a healthy switch doesn't need to include eliminating all food, forcing unnatural bodily functions, and shocking your body with drastic changes in nutritional intake. Be careful, do your homework, and check with your doctor before making any big changes to your health routine. Aiming for moderation and eating wholesome, natural foods every single day is your best bet for overall, toxin-free health.

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