Monday, May 14, 2012

Detox Don't!

Search for "detox products" online and you'll get over 35,000 hits. Detox diet books number in the hundreds. Surprising? Unfortunately, no. Ridiculous? Absolutely. It's continually shocking to me the amount some people will pay for products that have absolutely no scientific evidence that they do...anything. The theory behind detoxing is that our body becomes overloaded with "toxins" from the food we eat, mainly coming from additives, caffeine, preservatives, and alcohol. Supposedly these toxins stay in the body, wreaking all kinds of havoc, from weight gain to belly bloat to fatigue. The truth is that this entire premise is faulty.

Talk to ANY GI specialist and he/she will tell you the same thing: our bodies don't get "backed up with toxins" that come from the foods we eat. The body is perfectly capable of cleansing itself using its own special device: your liver. Ever heard the phrase, "You live-r you die"? You need your liver - can't live without it! It is your body's natural way of filtering out the "bad stuff" and keeping the good.

So why do people keep buying them, claiming to see results? Many of these products are filled with intestinal irritants, designed to upset the lining of your gastro-intestinal (GI) system so that you go to the bathroom. The products claim that this is your body ridding itself of "toxins and years of build-up", when all you have done is irritate your body. Many detox products or detox diets are downright dangerous. Some require extreme fasting for days or weeks at a time, in which participants only drink liquids or eat only one or two foods. Taking in so few calories leads to severe muscle wasting. Some detox products contain laxatives or colonics; these can be dangerously dehydrating and cause electrolyte imbalances in the body. Detoxing is really another name for extreme calorie control - there is no detoxification about it. So whether it's a pill, liquid, diet, or foot pad (yes, those are out there too), stay far away.

Looking for a healthy way to "cleanse" your body? Try this:
1. Drink plenty of water
2. Instead of only liquids, eat whole foods rich in fiber, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grain.
3. Fuel your muscles with dairy and other sources of protein.
4. Eat consistently throughout the day: every 3-4 hours is ideal.
5. With the okay from your doctor, be physically active every day.
6. Avoid laxatives and detox supplements.

 By Katie Davis
Katie Davis, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN leads the Mindful Eating Group and the Nutrition Counseling Group on Thursday evenings. For more info call Katie at (773) 929-6262 x24


  1. So true! These companies sell these products solely to MAKE MONEY - they can't sell you something that your body does naturally on it's own, so they have to create a "need" by praying on our insecurities about our bodies! But it's sad when a client comes in an claims that a "natural health practitioner" told them to do a fast - there's so many people who have been brain washed into thinking that we need to BUY a product - rather than trust the wisdom of our bodies.
    Thanks Katie for this great article!

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