Detox or cleanse diets: Are they worth it?

Your body is much better off when you simply drink water and eat clean, healthy foods.
Detox and cleanse diets might sound appealing, but they can be risky and expensive. (For Spectrum Health Beat)

Everyone has toxins in their body. In fact, they’re being made by your body right now. They’re called endotoxins and they are the end products of regular metabolism.

They’re well-managed by the liver, kidneys, respiratory and digestive systems, and they’re primarily excreted in urine, feces, exhalation and perspiration.

We are all exposed to toxins from our environment as well. These toxins are called exotoxins. They can be in foods or food packaging, the air we breathe, the water we drink or the products we use.

The use of detox diets or “cleanses” has become popular. Many of these detox and cleanse diets come with lots of baggage, such as nutritional supplements, prolonged fasting or the use of laxatives or enemas. Many detox programs cost a pretty penny, too.

They can also create some problems.

Four risks associated with detox and cleanse diets:

  1. Prolonged fasting can negatively impact the health of children, women who are pregnant or breast feeding, the elderly and people on certain medications.
  2. Many herbal nutritional supplements are not safe and are contaminated with heavy metals and toxins themselves. Dr. Michael Greger has an excellent video on the dangers of dietary supplements.
  3. The use of laxatives and enemas without medical supervision can come with serious health risks, including dehydration, according to the FDA.
  4. Detox and cleanse diets and programs can cost a lot of money, which is better spent on healthy food and better products.

If you really want to help support your body in its efforts to naturally detoxify—and minimize your exposure to toxins in your environment—you’d be much better off by drinking water and eating clean, healthy foods.

Eight great detoxification tips to follow:

  1. Drink plenty of water. It will help your body to perspire, create urine and stay regular, which will help with detoxification. Aim for at least 3 liters per day for adult men and at least 2 liters per day for adult women.
  2. Eat at least eight total servings of fruits and vegetables every day. The antioxidants fight free radicals and the fiber helps with digestive elimination, as well as feeding the good bacteria in your gut. It’s also been shown that edible plants and their phytochemicals can decrease the risk of heavy metal toxicity.
  3. Thoroughly wash all your fruits and vegetables to remove pesticides.
  4. Whenever possible, buy organic foods—they use fewer chemicals and pesticides and they’re better for the environment.
  5. To be as safe as possible, eat seafood no more than twice per week. Heavy metals can accumulate in fish.
  6. Avoid processed foods and foods with labels that list ingredients you can’t easily pronounce.
  7. Glutathione is your body’s master antioxidant. Your body makes it from amino acids (protein), so be sure you’re eating enough protein from healthy, lean sources.
  8. As much as possible, avoid foods or other products that use artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners and fragrances.

To schedule a personal nutrition counseling session with a registered dietitian, call 616.391.1875 today.

Gregory Stacey, MA, RD, has been a registered dietitian at Spectrum Health Blodgett Hospital for three years, with a focus on acute care clinical nutrition. He obtained his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Western Michigan University. Gregory has a personal interest in health, wellness and sports performance nutrition.

Did you enjoy this post?

SHARE IT

Comments (3)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*
*