Detox is a popular buzzword in the health and beauty world. The idea behind detoxing is that from time to time we need to clear the ‘toxic waste’ from our body in order to stay healthy.
The whole idea of needing to detox the body is a myth. The body is a well-designed system that has its own built in mechanisms to detoxify and remove waste and toxins. Our body constantly filters out, breaks down and excretes toxins and waste products like alcohol, medication, products of digestion, dead cells, chemicals from pollution and bacteria.
The body has numerous chemically-controlled organs, such as the skin, gut, liver and kidney, that continually ‘detoxify’ the body from head to toe by responding to signals, in the form of hormones, to remove any waste products.
Fasting, or severely restricting what you eat, limits intake of energy (calories) and important nutrients needed for health and wellbeing.
Rapid weight loss can occur, but this weight loss is largely water and glycogen (the body’s carbohydrate stores), rather than fat. You may feel tired and dizzy and it’s likely you will have less energy while you are following an extreme detox programme.
Furthermore, if you are fasting, your body won’t have the necessary fuel available to carry out physical activity and exercise – an important aspect of general wellbeing and healthy weight management. At the end of the programme, if you return to your old eating habits you are likely to put back on any weight you have lost.
The Best Approach – A Balanced Diet
It does make sense to avoid excessive intakes of caffeine, alcohol, and high-fat, high-sugar foods and eat some fresh foods, which many detox diets suggest.
If you want to maintain optimal health, however, the best approach is a balanced diet that includes:
- At least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day
- Moderate portions of wholegrain carbohydrates
- Lean meat, fish, poultry or alternatives like beans and pulses
- Low fat dairy products
- Sensible alcohol and caffeine limits
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Disclaimer: This information is provided to promote healthy eating in the workplace for healthy individuals. It is not intended for the use of anyone who is pregnant or has a medical condition. For individual advice, please see your GP for referral to a Registered Dietitian (RD).