Should You Try a Detox?
As a present for our last birthday, a friend treated us to a spa visit. We arrived excited for a day of pampering. However, we soon learned that our day of relaxation wasn’t exactly what we had in mind. First up: An intestinal detox, including some kind of irrigation of the fecal canal. Ick. Not exactly our idea of pampering. We immediately swapped our detoxes for massages (phew!).
However, detoxing is a hot topic right now, and we always get lots of questions about it. A detox can mean different things to different people, even to us as dietitians. The premise is to clean out the toxins that accumulate in our bodies--for some, it means a colonic irrigation, which we would have had on our last birthday, had we not been completely disgusted by the thought of injecting water into the colon to remove feces, and had we not known that it could be dangerous. To others, a detox means a strict juice diet. And to some people, it’s eating only raw foods, or cutting out harmful, processed foods. However you define detoxing there are a few things you should know before beginning a detox regimen of your own.
People looking for a quick fix and rapid weight loss often turn to the more extreme forms of detoxing to reach their goals. The most drastic iteration is medical detoxing, which uses colonics and laxatives. Although some people claim to feel lighter immediately afterwards (who wouldn’t feel lighter after having fecal matter pulled out of their body?), many people aren’t the least bit tempted to try it again. Obviously, it’s far from glamorous, and it can be dangerous, too. Especially colonics. They can disrupt your body’s delicate fluid and electrolyte balances and cause dehydration, as well as anemia, and malnutrition, among other health problems. Glad we dodged that bullet!
Liquid or Juice Diet
People who detox by consuming only liquids, abstain from consumption of food and either strictly drink juices made from fruits and vegetables or other beverages, like spicy lemonade (i.e. in the “Master cleanse which gained attention when Beyonce tried it and lost close to 20 pounds in 14 days). Drinking juices made from vegetables and fruits can have benefits, but juice is not always a great substitute for all food. People who juice often report unpleasant side effects, such as grogginess, hunger and exhaustion. Plus, if they do lose weight, it’s usually short-lived and returns with normal eating. And individuals who try to exercise on a liquid diet are in for a rude-awakening—they may experience feelings of dizziness even at the start of exercise. No, thank you, we’ll pass.
The Bottom Line
A combination of clean eating and exercise is the best way to restart your system. So we recommend cutting out caffeine, sugar, processed foods, alcohol, and fried food, while increasing your fruit and veggie intake. It’s the safest way to get your body back on track, rid yourself of cravings, and jumpstart a healthy life. Eat real foods throughout the day, drink plenty of water, and exercise--a natural detoxifier, and a must for anyone who wants to get lean--in order to maximize the benefits of this healthier “detox.”
—Tammy Lakatos Shames and Elysse “Lyssie” Lakatos—otherwise known as the Nutrition Twins—are registered dieticians, certified personal trainers and authors of Fire Up Your Metabolism: 9 Proven Principles for Burning Fat and Losing Weight Forever. They will be blogging about nutrition and weight loss for Fitbie every week.
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