Detox Vs Fad Diets

What is a Detox?

The term ‘detox’ has been thrown around and used haphazardly by the health industry, earning both positive and negative connotations. Although detox is usually associated with improved health, it has also, mistakenly, been thrown in the same category as ugly fad diets, and been viewed as just another drastic unachievable, ‘quick solution’ for weight loss hopefuls. The truth is, it is none of these things… or at least it shouldn’t be!

Unfortunately, much of the confusion has arisen as some popular ‘detox’ diets, namely those that have been celebrity endorsed, fit soundly into the ‘fad diet’ diet category… I’d like to take this opportunity to clear up a few differences.

Fad diets often fall under most of the following points:

  • Offer extreme weight loss ‘solutions’ in a short period of time. Generally weight loss of more than 0.5-1 kilograms per week (although this rate will plateau at times), is unsafe and not sustainable long-term.
  • Are based on popularity rather than scientific based research.
  • Often include drastic calorie cuts.
  • Include pills/powders or meal replacement drinks or sachets.
  • Often run for longer than two weeks (although are not realistic long-term).
  • Do not necessarily teach healthy eating habits for life.
  • Consume much of a persons’ life, and result in yo-yo dieting when people ‘fall off the band-wagon’ due to the fad diets unrealistic expectations.

A Detox often falls under most of the following points:

  • Usually maintained from several days to a couple of weeks at a time, and don’t claim to result in large amounts of weight loss (although they can result in some).
  • Should be partaken around twice a year, with healthy eating practiced as much as possible year round.
  • Are scientifically based and teach healthy eating habits.
  • Do not necessarily need large amounts of calories cut.
  • Are mostly based on whole foods and NO processed and packaged sachets.

Some Reasons to Detox:

  • Help break bad eating and lifestyle habits.
  • Eliminate accumulated toxins and bad bacteria from the digestive tract and body, which have accumulated from processed foods and chemicals.
  • Healthy Lose weight.
  • Improve other health ailments.

Some Popular Detox’s

The Detox What it involves Pros Cons
Raw Food Eating meals mainly consisting of raw, uncooked whole foods. This diet can be tailored to include anywhere from between 75-100% raw foods and usually eliminates meat and dairy depending on which health benefits you wish to achieve. Other food groups may be eliminated to tailor individual needs. Mostly nutrient dense fruits and vegetables are eaten. Packaged and highly processed foods are eliminated, which contain many artificial ingredients and toxins. Raw foods are generally higher in vitamins and minerals, as well as fibre, which reduces appetite. High nutrient superfoods should also be included to get the maximum nutrition from your food. Chewing food thoroughly can also be great for burning calories and maintaining awareness around eating. This detox may not be ideal for people with weak digestive systems or conditions such as Crohn’s Disease or IBS, due to highly fibrous foods. This diet can also lack on essential fatty acids and protein unless the right vegetarian sources are eaten.
Juice/ Vegetable Soup Detox’s These usually last about 10 days and involve cutting out solid foods from the diet and replacing them with liquid meals high, in vegetables and sometimes fruits. A variety of fruit and vegetables, with rich colour pigments should be eaten across the colour spectrum so the body is receiving lots of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. This diet is very high in minerals and vitamins and can boost metabolism. It is very cleansing and easy on our digestive systems, as the food is ‘pre-digested’. This detox is excellent for flushing toxins. And making skin glow. There can be a lack of protein and other nutrients in these diets which are definitely not good long-term, and can be difficult to stick to as they can leave you very hungry due to higher levels of carbohydrates and not much else. Also you don’t get the satisfaction we experience from chewing our food.
Lemon Detox Diet (Master Cleanse) This detox is more like a fad diet in my opinion, and involves drinking up to 9 glasses of a concoction containing lemon, water, cayenne pepper and maple syrup or Madal Bal tree syrup, often in pre-packaged sachets and with other ‘fat burning’ ingredients and powders. All other food are generally avoided for 7-25 days. Personally I do not condone this ‘detox’, but I believe that you can modify this and take the ‘good’ aspects of the diet such as lemon which is a fantastic cleansing food, and have it in the morning (during a raw food detox, or anytime) in warm water to improve digestion or add to a juice for great skin. Cayenne pepper is also great added to juices or meals to boost metabolism. Weakness, low calorie, low nutrients, simple sugars (syrups), not sustainable.
Fasting Food can be eliminated all together or small amounts of food that arelow in carbohydrates are consumed. Usually for 3-7 days. Rids waste accumulated in body and digestive system, and can help regulate blood pressure, insulin resistance, cholesterol, obesity and may increase longevity of life. Helps breaks habits and addictions. Can cause weakness and should be done for short periods only! Can be dangerous for inexperienced people. Low nutrients,  (although this shouldn’t be a problem if the person is healthy and they are done for short periods). Lots of water must be consumed.

Tailoring your Detox:

Although detox’s can fall under certain types or categories, a detox can be any kind of improvement to your health to achieve a goal. Whether is be a strict 10 day juice cleanse to eliminate toxins, or a week without caffeine! It all depends on you, your health and your goals. The outcome should be something that makes you proud and improves your wellbeing.

Detox Precautions:

No detox should be entered into without planning and research. It is always recommended that you consult a medical professional and let them know your plans before entering into a detox commitment. People with certain health conditions and pregnant people should not do all types of detox’s or make dramatic changes to their diets. If it is your first time trying a detox go slowly and set small goals, you can always up the anti next time! It is also important to ask your naturopath or doctor about probiotics to balance gut flora, during or after a detox and to discuss exercise during your detox as well. Detox’s can be unpleasant and make you feel weak as the body eliminates toxins (but you should feel fabulous after!) Always listen to your body during a detox, and never push yourself too hard. Remember, the idea is to improve health, not make it worse.

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