Detox Diets

Detox diets are used for weight loss and to boost energy and vitality. They are popular after a period of self-indulgence, when the body feels sluggish and tired. The original naturopathic detox diets of fruits, juices and raw foods were a serious treatment for illness, but with their rise in popularity, a lot of ‘gimmicky’ variations have been invented. These make little or no difference to the end result.

What Is A Detox Diet?

A detox diet is based mainly on fresh fruit and juices plus raw and steamed vegetables and sprouted beans and seeds. It avoids meat, fish, dairy products, fried food, processed food, starchy carbohydrates, fats, alcohol and caffeinated beverages. Most people follow a detox diet to cleanse their body after periods of indulgence such as the holiday season, and also to lose a few pounds of body weight. A detox diet cannot help you to shed toxins that are already in your body, but it can help to rest and cleanse an overworked digestive system and give your body a natural vitamin boost.

How Long Should It Last?

There is no hard and fast rule for the length of a detox diet. Most people stop after one to two weeks because they start to feel weak or light-headed. Detox diets are not well-balanced. They are lacking in protein and the calorie-rich foods that give you energy. Headaches are common in the first few days of a detox diet and are caused by caffeine withdrawal.

Can You Lose Toxins?

As with any low-calorie diet, toxins come out of storage when you begin to break down your body fat to use it for energy. The toxins were in storage because your liver and kidneys were not able to process and excrete them. So they will probably circulate in your blood until you stop the diet and then go back into storage again.

I Feel Good–Is It Because I’ve Shed Toxins?

After completing a detox or cleansing diet, people often say they feel less sluggish, and more alert and energetic. These are the likely reasons:

  1. Overloading your digestive system with food (especially fatty, sugary food) uses up a lot of energy and can make you lethargic. Too much saturated fat stresses your liver; too much sugary food plays havoc with your balance of insulin and adrenal hormones. Reducing the load makes you feel good because it reduces all these stresses on your body.
  2. Tea, coffee and alcoholic drinks may be the only drinks we normally consume. Because all three are diuretics (making us urinate more) they can cause chronic dehydration. Replacing them with water, fruit juices and herbal teas can quickly improve hydration and so boost energy and vitality.
  3. For most of the year the average person’s diet is very low in fruit and vegetables, the foods your body really craves. On a detox diet, your body is glad to get some real food.
  4. Detox diets make the body more alkaline. An acid residue is left in our tissues when our habitual diet is too high in fat and protein. The more over-acidic your body, the less oxygen can get to your tissues and so the more prone to disease they can become. Eating fruit and vegetables (even sour ones) helps to reduce this acidity since your body metabolizes them (breaks them down) to an alkaline residue.
  5. Detox diets usually exclude wheat, dairy and egg – foods which can cause unpleasant symptoms such as drowsiness, fluid retention and headaches if you do not digest them properly. While you are avoiding these foods you can feel wonderful!

If you start to feel weak or shaky, or develop a persistent headache after the first few days of a detox diet, you should add some brown rice, soy yogurt, olive oil and a few Brazil nuts. This will maintain the diet’s healthful effects while improving its balance, so that you can continue with it for as long as you like.

Linda Lazarides’ recommended detox diet can be found in her book Linda’s Flat Stomach Secrets, available from bookstores or from

If you’re in a real hurry, click here to download the e-book version of Linda’s Flat Stomach Secrets.

Linda Lazarides is Course Director of the School of Modern Naturopathy and author of eight books on health, nutrition and naturopathy.

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