3 August, 2020
Do I Need to Detox?
Approximate reading time: 3 minutes
What is a detox?
Detoxing is a very popular diet.
Usually a detox consists of a few days of fasting, then limited food intake with juices and lemon waters. This is all supposed to “cleanse the body”.
There are a lot of buzz words around detox diets - like “cleanse”, “eliminate” and “toxins”. The list goes on.
An example of a detox is one that’s been floating around recently - the celery juice cleanse.
Detox diets claim to rid the body of toxins, pollutants and chemicals, and help with obesity, chronic fatigue, allergies, inflammation… again the list goes on.
Research about Detoxing
There is a significant lack of evidence around detox diets.
A lot of people do feel better after detox diets. This is because they avoid foods high in sugar, saturated fats and highly processed foods. However, anyone that eliminates these types of discretionary foods will feel a positive change. Adding in fruits and vegetables, whole grains and whole foods to your diet will feel better for anyone, regardless of a period of “detoxing” or not.
What do the experts say?
Going on a detox diet puts a person at risk of restricting overall nutrients and essential food groups. This can lead to nutritional deficiencies. Relying on “cleansing” from your diet is a risky way of trying to bounce back. The best recommendation is to be consistent. Eat well, and your body will function at its best.
One thing that we all have in our favour, that detoxes for us, without restricting food intake, is our liver. This organ processes and eliminates toxins and wastes from our body naturally, without juice cleanses or fasting. We do not need to fast or cleanse our diets. The best thing to do is eat well, from a wide variety of food groups, keep up physical activity and drink lots of water – our liver can do the rest.
Here are a few tips to help your body along, without resorting to drastic detox diets:
Eat fresh fruits and vegetables
Increasing your fruit and vegetable intake boosts your body by getting more vitamins and minerals.
Take some time off alcohol
If alcohol is consumed on a daily basis in excess, the liver does not have time to process it. This can lead to liver damage. Consuming alcohol in moderation, or not at all, is better for your body and your mind. The guidelines recommend no more than two standard drinks per day, and it is recommended you have at least two alcohol free days in a week. I usually say aim for three!
Water is a crucial nutrient to ensure our organs can function at their best. This includes our liver to detox. To absorb, digest and break down nutrients, we need adequate hydration.
Learn more about how to stay hydrated over the winter months here.
Instead of resorting to a detox or a cleanse, it is best to speak to an Accredited Practising Dietitian about the right nutrition support for you. Nutrition requirements are unique to the individual, and this is why evidence-based, clinical nutrition advice is the best way to go.
- Detox diets are unnecessary, as we already have incredible organs in our body that “cleanse" for us, without restricting our diets.
- To support these organs and our overall health, eating consistently healthy food and limiting alcohol intake.
- Speak to a medical professional regarding your specific needs to limit the risk of nutritional deficiencies.
About the Author
Alex Sherman - Accredited Practicing Dietitian & Accredited Nutritionist
Alex is an Accredited Practicing Dietitian and Nutritionist. She's crazy passionate about nutrition - even to have studied for over 6 years at university, including post-graduate studies in FODMAP Diet for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). She offers clear and practical advice tailored to your health goals.
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Australian Government: National Health and Medical Research Council. Australian Guidelines for Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol.