Experts say detox diets lead to unpleasant, unhealthy side effects.
The rise of do-it-yourself diet programs that promise to flush poisons and pounds from the body is leading consumers to go to extremes in order to lose weight fast. While the concept of detoxifying the body has been around for centuries, nutrition experts believe that these programs are dangerous.
Detox books and kits explain to users how to cleanse the body, commonly calling for a dangerously low-calorie liquid diet.
Scientists say these crash diets lead to vitamin deficiencies, muscle breakdown, and blood-sugar problems. They also warn that because of the lack of solid foods and use of laxatives, consumers face frequent liquid bowel movements when on a detox plan.
Lona Sandon, a Dallas dietitian and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association explains, “Long-term fasts lead to muscle breakdown and a shortage of many needed nutrients.” She warns that depriving the body of the vitamins and minerals we get from food can "actually weaken the body’s ability to fight infections and inflammation.”
Because detox diets upsets blood sugar, potassium and sodium levels in the body, experts say that people with diabetes, heart or kidney disease or women who are pregnant or nursing should avoid them. Children, teens, older adults or people with certain digestive conditions are also discouraged from any detox plan.
Experts explain that the side effects from prolonged, severe calorie restriction can include headache, fatigue, irritability, aches and pains. They point out that the laxatives found in detox kits lead to liquid bowel movements, causing irritation of skin and dehydration.
Despite detox’s claim to make users feel lighter and more energetic, research shows that the longer you fast, the more lethargic and less focused you become. Due to the lack of protein in these plans, it can be difficult for the body to rebuild lost muscle tissue afterwards.
Because most of these diets contain very little protein, it can be difficult for the body to rebuild lost muscle tissue.
People are often intrigued by these plans because of their promise to rid the body of toxins. This cleansing is advertised as energizing and can last anywhere from three days to a month. However, many intestinal experts say extreme diets are not needed to cleanse the body.
“Your body does a perfectly good job of getting rid of toxins on its own,” says Dr. Nasir Moloo, a gastroenterologist with Capitol Gastroenterology Consultants Medical Group in Sacramento, Calif. “There’s no evidence that these types of diets are necessary or helpful.”
Sandon warns that in attempting to flush out impurities, detox diets "flush out the good bacteria that keep the intestines healthy.”
Dr. Moloo explains that healthy people already have a built-in detoxification system- the liver, kidneys, lungs and skin.
-- Diet.com Diet News
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