Detox diets, juice cleanses, and other popular detox practices have become a multi-million dollar industry for the sellers of these products. Celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow, Madonna, and Alicia Silverstone, among others, have all touted the benefits of detoxing, while claiming they will lose weight and improve their health in the process. But is this the truth?
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Detox diets are all the rage these days, with many celebrities, athletes and even political leaders touting the benefits of cleansing—for example, US President Donald Trump has adopted the 5:2 diet. The idea is that you eat normally for five days and then abstain from food for two days. This is believed to give the body time to “detox” and cleanse. But, the science isn’t clear on whether detox diets actually work, if they’re safe and whether they’re sustainable.
When it comes to cleaning or detoxifying, you’re usually thinking of one of two things:
- “Detoxing is a jigsaw puzzle! I’d rather choke on a chicken bone than go on a juice fast.”
- “Detoxing is fantastic! After a good detox, I feel bright, bushy-tailed, and bursting with energy. You should give it a go as well.”
It seems that cleansing not only has the ability to “sweep out our poisons,” but also to bring out our extreme viewpoints.
However, as with other aspects of nutrition — and life — adhering to any extreme viewpoint may cause us to miss out on vital information. And when it came to cleaning, I wanted to know all there was to know.
In fact, I was so intrigued that my wife and I went on a three-day juice fast while I was writing this article. There’s more on it later.
What exactly is a detox?
The term “detox” is similar to the term “moderation.” When it comes to detox diets, there is no one-size-fits-all approach.
To various individuals, cleansing implies different things. To you, my regular diet may seem to be detoxifying, but to someone else, it may appear to be poisonous.
Detox diets, on the other hand, usually contain specific meals, juices, teas, or colonics while excluding others.
Other detox plans include nothing at all, such as fasting.
Detoxing is all about getting rid of pollutants.
That may seem self-evident, but what exactly is a toxin?
- Hormones are metabolized by the liver; does this imply that hormones are toxic?
- Does this imply that ideas are harmful since they are processed by the brain?
- Cell phones emit electromagnetic waves; are they harmful?
You can see the issue.
In the case of medicines, the concept is now much simpler to grasp and quantify. The aim of a drug detox program is to simply remove the harmful chemical from the body.
What precisely are we attempting to get rid of from the body when we speak about detox diets?
Why? Is it even possible to quantify it?
We can’t get rid of every poison when it comes to diet and nutrition. That’s because almost everything we eat is harmful in some way.
Meanwhile, tiny quantities of certain poisons may be beneficial to our health, so we are unlikely to remove them.
In other words, the true question isn’t “How do I get rid of all toxins from my body?” but rather “How do I get rid of all toxins from my body?”
The most crucial question is this:
Is there any danger from this possibly hazardous substance?
Is it really that bad? And what am I supposed to do about it?
Let’s look at a few instances to help clarify this:
First, there’s alcohol.
With a meal, most individuals may comfortably consume one glass of wine. Although alcohol is harmful, it may be metabolized in tiny quantities by the body.
If you attempt to drink fifteen glasses of wine in an hour, you may wind yourself in the hospital with blood alcohol poisoning.
Bok choy (example 2)
I know what you’re thinking: Everyone knows how dangerous alcohol can be! Let’s take a look at a meal that most people believe to be healthy: bok choy.
Bok choy includes glucosinolates, which have been linked to thyroid issues. It also contains a lot of Vitamin A and other essential minerals.
Most of us could eat a cup of raw bok choy every day without becoming sick (if we wanted to). The glucosinolates would be metabolized by our systems, and we’d get the advantages of the vegetable.
However, if we ate fifteen cups each day, we could get hypothyroidism. The bok choy would be hazardous in such quantities.
Cookies (example 3)
What about something a little less healthy? Let’s use a cookie as an example. The sugar in one can usually be safely metabolized by the majority of people.
However, if we consume fifteen of them in a matter of minutes, our bodies would be overworked and perhaps poisonous (as measured by blood sugars and triglycerides).
Grilling (Example 4)
Cooking techniques may also add to the potentially hazardous consequences of a meal. We’ve all heard about grilling’s hazards. Most of us, however, can metabolize the cancer-causing HCAs and PAHs found in charred meat.
Toxins and long-term cancer growth are only a concern for those who frequently ingest 16-ounce hunks of charred meat.
Vitamin B (example 5)
Let’s take a look at a particular vitamin. Most of us may safely take the appropriate quantity of vitamin B supplements.
Our neurological and hepatic function will deteriorate if we take fifteen times the prescribed dosage. The vitamin has become poisonous.
You can probably figure out where I’m heading with this.
At some level, almost everything is poisonous. We won’t be able to prevent it.
The body, on the other hand, “cleanses” itself.
The digestive tract, kidneys, skin, lungs, liver, lymphatic system, and respiratory system are all important detoxification organs.
These processes break down chemicals into different forms that we can get rid of by going to the bathroom, sweating, or breathing. And when put in a balanced (i.e. healthy) environment, the body seems to do a fairly decent job of it.
So, what is the point of detoxing?
Why would anybody attempt detoxifying in the first place if the body is so good at self-cleansing?
We, on the other hand, often obstruct our bodies’ self-cleaning teams. Every day, we put a lot of things in/on our bodies and don’t always utilize them properly.
- We take too many medicines.
- We don’t get enough sleep.
- Chemicals are slathered all over our bodies.
- There isn’t enough physical exercise in our lives.
- We drink much too much booze.
- We’re both smokers.
- Smog is inhaled, and other contaminants such as heavy metals are ingested.
- We consume nutrient-deficient items that our bodies may or may not perceive as “food.”
- Supplements are overused in our society.
What would happen if we changed some of our behaviors and simplified our diets?
My intuition tells me that we should lighten our load on our bodies so that they can focus more energy on healing, digestion, and other processes that help us feel better.
However, apart from “Ryan’s intuitive feel for detoxifying,” another reason individuals start a detox diet is to lose weight — or because they witnessed a celebrity do it and the celebrity seems to be in good shape.
Please accept my apologies if the next phrase seems like something your parents would say, but believe me on this:
Simply because others have cleansed does not imply that it is a good idea. In reality, I can confidently state the following:
Detoxing to reduce weight is not a good idea.
Any weight loss following a detox diet is most likely due to a loss of water, carbohydrate reserves, and intestinal mass, which all return within a few hours of the detox ending.
Even yet, since fat cells don’t only store fat, there is a significant link between body fat and toxins. They also serve as a storage location for some of the fat-soluble poisons we consume.
As a result, the slimmer you are, the less space you have for pollutants.
This may explain why many individuals feel terrible when they lose a lot of weight quickly.
Because fat-soluble compounds may be stored in fat, they can enter the circulation when the fat is broken down, causing tiredness, muscular pain, and even nausea.
Do you recall the Arizona Biosphere experiment? Some of the individuals’ environmental contaminants were assessed while they lost weight. They were not in a good mood throughout this procedure. Not at all. It provides enough of fodder for contemplation.
Fat cells are the cells that store fat.
Detox diets may have certain advantages.
Do detox diets have any possible advantages if they’re a bad method to lose weight? Yes.
Increasing the amount of healthy foods
Many of the meals and beverages suggested as part of detox diets are nutrient-dense “superfoods,” such as:
- Green tea is a kind of tea that is used
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- Fruits and veggies with vibrant colors
All of these seem to assist the body in dealing with pollutants.
Asparagus, spinach, avocado, and squash, in particular, contain a plant form of glutathione, an essential detoxifying agent in the brain.
Food sensitivities are being reduced.
Furthermore, the majority of cleansing diets contain foods and beverages that seldom cause intolerances or allergies. As a result, detoxifying may be a good place to start when trying to figure out whether you have any food sensitivities.
The only issue is that a detox diet is frequently so restricted that individuals can’t stick to it for very long – maybe not long enough to uncover the possible causes.
Finally, a short-term cleansing diet may provide a welcome respite from the world of food.
This may be useful if you wish to concentrate on spiritual pursuits or need a (short) vacation from regular dietary choices.
What are the drawbacks of detoxing?
Any diet, including detox diets, will need some work to arrange.
Juicing fifteen pounds of organic vegetables and fruits per day is not feasible for those with limited time, money, or resources. Especially if they’re feeling weak, listless, or dizzy, which are some of the most common juice cleanse side effects.
Most juice diets, on the other hand, are very low in calories. Indeed, others say that juicing is nothing more than a method to starve oneself while feeling good about it!
Many cleanses are low in calories, which causes your body’s metabolic processes to shut down.
Not only that, but juice cleaning may become its own kind of indulgence, which is odd given that many individuals seek out cleanses in order to find moderation after a time of excess.
However, pulverizing fifteen pounds of veggies each day to make a thick green soup is hardly reasonable. Is it really possible for the body to manage fifteen pounds of raw vegetable juice?
To put it another way, some of the unpleasant side effects that individuals often experience after a cleanse may be due to excess. Their systems may be working extra to cope with a toxic mix of oxalates, nitrates, and other contaminants.
This is a recipe for overindulgence.
This leads to one of my own hypotheses. When individuals do juice cleanses, they often develop headaches. Caffeine withdrawal is one of the most apparent reasons.
Caffeine may cause headaches even in individuals who aren’t addicted to it. This may be related to nitrates, in my opinion. Why?
Many juices, for example, include a lot of celery and beets. Neither of these veggies are often consumed in such huge amounts, yet they are both high in nitrates.
Vasodilation is aided by nitrates. Additionally, dilated blood arteries may cause pounding headaches.
The issue of nitrates is not the only one. Many cleaning programs are based on the use of freshly extracted juices. Juice is a food that has been processed. Juicing is a form of processing, despite the fact that we frequently despise it.
Variations in blood sugar levels
Furthermore, many cleanses are based on consuming large amounts of fruit juices, which may produce hazardous fluctuations in blood sugar levels, making them unsafe for diabetics and possibly risky for many others.
Dysfunction of the digestive tract
Fruit juices not only mess with your blood sugar, but they also have very little fiber. What’s the big deal about that? Fiber is a natural cleaner. It acts as a street sweeper for the GI system, slowing digestion and aiding nutrient absorption.
Again, there’s irony in a “cleansing” diet that decreases the body’s natural cleaning crew’s efficiency!
There is no evidence that the GI tract functions better when it is not exposed to solid meals (unless the GI tract is damaged). Pre- and probiotics, glutamine from protein-rich meals, and fiber, on the other hand, are beneficial to the gut.
On a cleanse, it may be difficult to obtain all of them.
Your GI tract is similar to your muscles: if you don’t utilize them, you’ll lose them. (People who struggle with compulsive eating are well aware of this; the GI system may occasionally shut down.)
Deficiencies in protein
Many cleansing diets are also low in protein, in addition to being low in fiber. Protein shortages may also make it difficult for the body to remove pollutants.
Yup. Yes, you read it correctly. But hold on a second. Isn’t it going against the entire point of a cleanse?
Restrictive eating & deprivation
Detox diets may lead to feast-or-famine eating habits, in addition to the extra effort, extremely low calories, and potential nutritional imbalances.
As a consequence of the severe fluctuations in fat consumption, they may create problems for your gallbladder and lead to kidney stones.
Most importantly, cleansing diets, like any restricted eating style, may lead to anticipatory deprivation.
Let this be a caution if the idea of a restricted diet sends you into a panic and makes you want to binge.
I’ll consume a lot of hazardous things tonight since the detox diet begins tomorrow. Do you recognize that pattern of thought? It’s the all-too-familiar dieter mindset. However, it is usually more detrimental than beneficial.
Juice cleaning may exacerbate food addiction and prevent people from finding peace with real food and real meals.
And there are also frightening tales connected with colon cleaning (the next stage), so be cautious if that concept appeals to you.
Our three-day detox, replete with unplanned visits to the ER
Despite the many drawbacks I’ve just listed, my wife and I decided to attempt a cleanse over the holidays in the spirit of scientific discovery and self-exploration. Anything in the name of learning!
When my wife examined the budget, I must confess, things got off to a terrible start.
She said, “Wait.” “How much is the cleanse going to cost?”
I told her, rather sheepishly, that three days of juice cleansing would cost us $180… apiece.
It’s a strange sensation to spend $180 and not eat for three days. Perhaps I should have taken the money and sent it to a charitable organization instead. Crap.
Perhaps the price is just a placebo effect. Knowing I’m going to spend this much money on juice for three days makes me feel like something big is about to happen.
A “cleansing” drink that lasts 72 hours (and costs $180).
Our cleanse package came at 11:01 a.m. on a Tuesday. We were starting to feel hungry at that point, particularly since they had told us to avoid heavy meals (as well as alcohol and caffeine) the day before we began.
I immediately regretted enrolling in the “advanced” cleanse. Perhaps I should have gone for the beginner’s option, which included a kale salad and a raw coconut/agave macaron. Macaroons, mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm
However, they advised that if we felt like it, we may supplement the juicing with entire vegetables, fruits, herbal tea, water, almonds, or avocado. With a sigh of relief, I exhaled deeply.
Cucumber, celery, kale, spinach, chard, cilantro, parsley, and sunflower sprouts were used in the initial juice. It was high in protein and low in sugar. And it tasted like it didn’t have much sugar in it.
This didn’t come as a surprise to me. Leafy greens are one of my favorite foods. On the other hand, my wife turned into the Incredible Hulk. She couldn’t conceal her skepticism.
She began by gagging. She next attempted to be festive by drinking through a straw, but it didn’t help; her scowl after each sip was remarkable.
(Because she is a self-proclaimed “super-taster,” the initial juice was unusually bitter.)
The juice we were sipping was made using a juicing machine that only used organic fruits and vegetables to extract juice. I began to consider the distinction between entire foods and extracted juices.
Instead, what if I ate all of these foods? Wouldn’t that be just as cleansing? How would juice, in and of itself, help my organs remove toxins?
According to the cleanse website, I’m eating the equivalent of twelve to fifteen pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables each day from six drinks — a quantity that even I, a self-proclaimed veggie aficionado, wouldn’t be able to stomach if I chewed and swallowed them all.
When we consume solid meals, they must be digested in order for nutrients to be released. The effort of digestion is presumably reduced when food is pre-chewed by a juicer or blender.
Perhaps you’ve heard of food’s thermic impact. Foods and nutrients with a higher thermic effect have a higher thermic effect. Eat a large steak since your stomach has a lot of work to perform. You may even have flesh sweats.
You may eliminate fibers and cell walls by drinking fresh kale juice. Liquids and nutrients are the only things remaining to pass the gut barrier and enter circulation.
On the plus side, you may be receiving your nutrients more quickly. On the downside, your body burns less calories since you don’t have to work as hard to acquire those nutrients.
I was pleased when I completed my first juice. It satisfied my hungry pangs. So far, everything has gone well. In certain ways, yes.
Because I was already getting a headache on the first day. I don’t get headaches very often, and when I do, it’s generally because I haven’t drank enough water.
What’s the deal with headaches throughout the cleaning process? Caffeine withdrawal or blood sugar fluctuations are the most common causes for most people. It may be the consequences of greater vasodilation in others, as I stated before.
Whatever the reason, my headache subsided, and all I could think about as I lay in bed at the end of day one was how hungry I was. It reminded me of my days as a bodybuilder, when I was dieting for a competition.
I was reminded of that period in my life at 3 a.m., 4 a.m., and 5 a.m. Because I continued having hunger pains when I woke up.
The same thing happened to my wife.
Please don’t get me wrong. I like going to bed without having an excessively full stomach. This, I believe, serves me well in terms of my health/body objectives, and it makes me hungry for breakfast in the morning.
However, on the first day of the cleanse, I was very hungry. And this may lead to a restless night’s sleep.
My wife went to her mother’s home for some pre-holiday meal prep fun. This featured things like dipping pretzels in chocolate and icing cookies, among other things.
My wife came to an essential understanding about the power of pre-deciding throughout this process. She would have snacked throughout cookie preparations in other years, but she didn’t feel guilty about eating this year since she was committed to the three-day detox.
She had made the decision ahead of time not to eat any cookies. It’s not a choice, and it’s not a problem.
I decided to perform a little exercise in the meanwhile. A basic circuit with some weights and conditioning exercises is all that is required. I began to smell like ammonia around halfway through. Due to a limited calorie intake, bodily proteins are broken down.
Probiotics were added in one of the detox drinks. Probiotics may assist to fill the GI tract with good bacteria, which can improve the efficiency of our digestive processes.
Nonetheless, I didn’t feel especially “cleaned out” by the end of day two. I was hungry, but not in the way that I had been anticipating a colonoscopy.
I began to feel a weird twinge/pinching feeling in my lower right abdomen in the early afternoon. I’m not sure whether it was my GI tract going into overdrive or if it was the impending appendicitis. However, it was odd.
And it went on like this for the rest of the cleanse (and for about two weeks afterwards). Apple slices and almond butter were supposed to assist, but they didn’t.
My wife and I both felt very relaxed later in the day. Boston’s winters are very chilly. Winter in Boston, it seems, is much colder when you’re just drinking green juices.
As I drank one of my juices that evening, wrapped in a sweatshirt, I started a new search for reliable information and resources in favor of detoxification and juice cleaning. I was sure I’d discover something to persuade me that this cleanse was a good idea!
Well, not quite. Because there doesn’t seem to be a compelling scientific justification for detox diets at this time.
Let’s put things in perspective. Months of research go into the majority of the pieces I publish. There are so many studies to look at, so much literature to sift through, and so much to think about. There’s no way I could get through it all in one night and make sense of it all.
However, there were just a few trustworthy sources to evaluate for this topic. It took a couple of hours to complete the study.
The following are the conclusions: According to one research, an eight-day juice fast had conflicting effects on blood fats. A whole foods detox also resulted in weight reduction and improved blood lipids in another case study.
That’s all there is to it.
There are lots of stories in favor of detoxing, particularly from businesses marketing detoxification kits, outside of controlled studies. However, the overwhelming majority of impartial health/nutrition professionals agree that a basic eating pattern based on full, healthy meals always wins out over a 100% juice cleanse.
According to unbiased specialists, there does not seem to be a “spackle of waste piling up on the gut wall,” as juice-cleanse advocates say. Keep in mind that the GI tract has a similar lining to the mouth.
And, as far as I knew, “cleaning the mouth out” was a punishment from the past, not an essential component of oral care. The GI tract, on its own, gets rid of cells and rebuilds on a regular basis.
After two nights of bad sleep, my wife and I are exhausted. We’ve been up all night with a terrible case of the “growlies.” (This is a phrase used by one of my clients to describe extreme hunger.)
At this stage in the cleanse, the one positive side is that we’ve both had very little bloating. I’m curious how much of this is due to a lack of solid meals. Perhaps in the future, spending more time to chew thoroughly will result in the same sensation.
As a result, our stomachs are flat. But we’re exhausted, irritable, and hungry. We’re also very chilly.
And two of the liquids have a flavor that we really despise. Only four of the six juices are tolerable today.
We begin to ponder about the cleansing in the late afternoon. We do feel lighter since there isn’t anything flowing through our intestines. However, we’re ready to move on to solid meals.
We started tapering off the cleanse on the third day’s night with double bacon cheeseburgers and a couple of beers.
No, I’m not serious. Soup, salad, rice/quinoa, and beans make up our light supper.
My wife and I decided that we would never undertake another juice cleanse. We’ve determined that a twelve to twenty-four hour water/tea fast will suffice if we need to stop eating for any reason.
Call me crazy, but the thought of spending $60 on juice every day does not appeal to me.
The hefty financial investment wasn’t the only issue we had with the cleanse. My colon and GI system went into overdrive on day two, as I stated.
Surprisingly, this persisted for approximately two weeks following the cleanse, even resulting in strange stomach discomfort, an appendix inflammatory flare, and a trip to the ER!
That wasn’t my intention when I embarked on this journey.
My wife, on the other hand, was very hungry for approximately five days following the cleanse and got dehydrated due to low potassium levels. She even fainted… and ended up in the emergency room.
Seriously! Both of us had to go to the emergency room. Following a three-day detox! (I shudder to think what would have occurred if we had attempted a longer one.)
Needless to say, our post-cleanse period was a whirlwind of activity (and not in a good way). This was obviously just our experience, and I’m not sure whether it had anything to do with the cleanse, but I believe it’s worth mentioning.
I tried to remember myself that the goal of cleaning is to improve general health when lying next to the CT scanning machine at 4 a.m. during my trip to the ER. It is not intended to make you unhappy.
So, what exactly happened? “It’s because of the cleanse,” we joke now whenever anything terrible happens in our home.
Perhaps, in the future, we’ll find that extracted juices from hundreds of pounds of fresh fruit include something really strong and health-promoting, but for now, we just don’t know.
If you detox and find that your life is better as a result, keep it up. However, I do not endorse it based on what I know about nutrition, the human body, and the planet.
Detoxing does not seem to be a viable option for achieving a healthy lifestyle. Instead, most individuals detox for a few days before returning to their “regular” hazardous lifestyle.
What if, instead of a three-day, $180 juice cleanse, we sought to eat and live in such a manner that the body was constantly detoxifying?
Excess calories, processed sugars, fats, and salt are among the most common dietary poisons in North America. Simply reducing our exposure to these poisons would enhance our health and performance.
We can accomplish this by eating the highest-quality, freshest food we can find, listening to our bodies, and not overeating. A beautiful weekend juice detox isn’t required.
While there isn’t much evidence to support detox diets, there is a lot of evidence to support living in a manner that promotes optimum health, avoids chronic illness, and keeps us slim.
Detoxing the natural way (no blender required)
Here are ten daily steps you can take to promote a detoxifying environment in your body.
- Consume in moderation. You’re definitely collecting more poisons than your body need if you consume too much. A detox diet consists of eating one cookie instead of six. Slow down and take your time chewing your meal. Our teeth and stomachs are both “anatomical juicers.” Make use of them.
- Build your meal around plant foods and, if feasible, consume organic. As a result, possible poisons are reduced. Fruits and vegetables play an important part in maintaining a healthy body since they include components that may assist the body in dealing with the influx of toxins. A diet rich in plant foods and low in animal foods may also imply fewer additives that are added after the animal has been slaughtered (e.g. pharmaceuticals, hormones, etc.).
- Maintain a slim physique. Body fat may collect some fat-soluble chemicals. Less body fat means less room for potentially harmful substances.
- Drink plenty of fluids, such as water and tea. Also, make use of a filter. The kidneys are important elimination organs, so keep them clean.
- Between supper and morning, give yourself some time. If you completed supper at 7 p.m., you may be able to have breakfast at 7 a.m. Every 24-hour cycle, the body gets a 12-hour respite from eating. This may also help you sleep better, which is another important element in enabling your body to heal properly.
- Every day, go outdoors and enjoy the sun and fresh air. We can not only manufacture vitamin D from the sun, but we can also breathe fresh air and listen to nature’s noises. Mother Nature, to be sure.
- Regularly exercise and sweat. Our skin serves as a primary organ of elimination. Make it a reality.
- Excessive dietary supplements should be avoided. Supplements may not always imply good health. And some may just add to the body’s load. Make sure each supplement in your medicine cabinet has a specific function.
- Remove the foods that are causing you problems. This mainly pertains to Step 1. If you can’t seem to break the habit of eating one cookie and constantly end up eating six, it’s time to rethink your cookie relationship. In addition, make a note of any dietary sensitivities.
- Examine your personal care items. Every day, we wash hundreds of chemicals into our skin, which is our biggest organ. These are subsequently absorbed into our bloodstream and circulated throughout our bodies. Check your personal care items to see if you can reduce the amount of chemicals in your body. The EWG maintains a valuable database. Also, have a look at our post on Safe Cosmetics.
Better eating, moving, and living.
Detoxification? To detox or not to detox? Yes, the world of health and fitness may be perplexing at times.
It will teach you the optimal diet, exercise, and lifestyle methods that are specific to you.
To see the information sources mentioned in this article, go here.
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Detox diets are all the rage these days. Companies like Positivity, Thrive Market, and others are hawking powder-based cleanses and “juice cleanses” that promise to rev up your body’s natural detoxing mechanisms. In turn, the companies are promising cleaner, healthier bodies that are toxin-free and renewed. The reality, however, is that detoxes are a double-edged sword: If you try one and it doesn’t work or makes you sick, it’s easy to just give up. But if you do it right, you can also make it easier to stick with the changes you want to see in your body, whether that’s shedding pounds or getting rid of a chronic disease.. Read more about 3-day juice cleanse results and let us know what you think.
This article broadly covered the following related topics:
- juice fasting
- juice fast
- juice fast plan
- juice fasting benefits
- juice cleanse benefits and cons