Diet Detoxification – Does it work?

Farmer's market, Jul 2009 - 11


How are you all going? I’ve meet a few women lately who have casually mentioned to me that they are “on a detox”. To each of them it meant different things, one of them merely meant she was trying to cut out alcohol, another meant she was trying to eat better and the third one was trying to eliminate toxins.

The whole notion of detoxing has been popularised through the media, with celebrities doing it and many different “detox diets” advertising their ways. Generally it involves a heavily restricted diet for a period of time in order to rid the body of toxins. Sounds nice, or kind of horrible, but how effective and achievable are these diets?

Of course there are the traditional detox’s – drug and alcohol, which are very important stages in overcoming addiction. Withdrawal from long-term alcohol addiction without medical assistance can even be fatal. Alcohol dependence in the long term results in a decrease in the production of a reuptake inhibitor, which alcohol acts to replace. Source.

But what about the other “detox’s” out there? How effective are detox diets? Do we need them? Should we do them?

Google detox and you find that there are a LOT of different detox diets targeting different areas of the body and using different techniques. Some of the many found include:

  • Juice Fasting
  • Master Cleanse Diet
  • Raw Food Detox
  • All Fruit Detox
  • Liver Cleanse
  • Heavy Metal Cleanse
  • Candida Cleanse

Many different religious groups fast at regular intervals and make claims for wonderful health benefits as well (and have done so for a long time). So detoxing, fasting and including periods of restrictive eating for health are nothing new. Each different detox has it’s own claim to different health benefits including reduction in constipation, congestion, improved immunity and eliminating toxins; just to name a few.  Source.

Some of the obvious negatives include water loss, lowered immunity, limited weight loss that returns upon normal eating habits, lowered metabolism; and my guess is that there would be some negative psychological impacts on those of us who have suffered with eating disorders or food addictions in the past etc.

Have you ever “detoxed”? If so, which sort of detox have you done? And what were the results? I’m interested to test one out for the blog and keep you updated on the results… I just need to pick one! If you were to recommend one for beginners, what would you suggest?

I hope you are all getting ready for a wonderful weekend!

Jess xoxoxox


photo by: Ed Yourdon

31 Responses to Diet Detoxification – Does it work?

  1. It’s funny – I’m really not sure WHERE I stand on the whole detoxing thing. Never done one myself..and the science part of me feels like our bodies know exactly what they’re doing without any type of cleanse. On the other hand, I know about the different religious groups and their beliefs and completely respect that as well!
    As long as no harm is done, I guess 🙂
    torontorunner recently posted…Running Book + Happy Chocolate Day!My Profile

  2. In theory I would say I’ve never done a detox diet, though some might view my going of sugar for a month as a detox diet. Like the first commenter I agree we need to be mindful of others religious or cultural views on the subject but I think from a purely diet point of view they’ve gotten a little out of hand. Drinking nothing but warm water with lemon juice and cayenne pepper in it for any period of time can’t be good for you and neither can dropping serious amounts of weight quickly as so many promise. If you want to try one I say err on the side of caution and avoid anything that seems extreme !

  3. The scientist within me thinks that detox diets are idiotic. Not eating anything for prolonged periods of time? Stupid! You know how they mention that people have these headaches and it’s supposed to mean that you’re detoxing. You know what else causes headaches? Hunger and your body undergoing ketosis. Honestly, eat healthy day-to-day and there shouldn’t be the need to subject yourself to these restrictive diets. Plus, as Amira mentioned our liver knows what it’s doing and restricting your diet will only send it into shock 😉
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      • Well my skin and hair and nails got inSANELY nice. Like they’ve never been that nice. But I had headaches all the time and I gained so much weight like the second I stopped it, so not really worth it from my point of view! I could totally see myself doing a modified version of it though sometime in the future. I think it was just simply too strict and my body couldn’t handle any other kind of food when I was done
        Jess @ JessieBear What Will You Wear recently posted…Fun Fact FridayMy Profile

        • That is interesting! Great that it improved your skin, hair and nails. I think I would want to eat a ton right after and re-tox. And headaches are not fun.

    • Wow 40 day fast is huge! Muslim’s fast regularly for religious reasons, I believe some Mormon’s also do. And even some of my Catholic friends occasionally fast for spiritual reasons. I have never been keen to do one, but I definitely think it would be interesting to do for the blog.

  4. Oh boy have I *detoxed*! Everything from fasting, juice fasting, herbal cleanses, fiber cleanses… none of it did anything other than made me lose a little water weight (quickly gained back), made me really grouchy, and after one herbal cleanse I was suddenly lactose intolerant! I now believe that with a healthy, clean foods everyday diet, our bodies detoxify themselves. That’s what our liver and kidneys are there for 🙂 I do believe that there are specific foods and herbs that can help support those organs, and I do occassionally take them. Andrew Weil and the Sock Doc both explain the body’s natural detoxing abilities well, and each talks about cleansing and detoxing on their sites. I have heard that taking a day of eating just fruit and herbal tea once a week can be good for giving the digestive system a break, and may boost immunity, also that some forms of intermittent fasting can be useful for weightloss and boosting immune function, but I don’t know much about it. Now, when I feel like I need a little cleansing boost, I just cut out sugar, grains, and reduce dairy, and eat mainly green veggies, berries, lean protein and healthy fats. Basically a Paleo diet. I also include extra, high count probiotics, water kefir, kombucha, green and herbal teas and I take milk thistle (to help support the liver). Whew! Sorry, that was long 🙂 Can’t wait to read what you decide to do!
    greengirlrunning recently posted…Taking Care & Cutting BackMy Profile

    • Yeah if I have felt a bit overloaded with junk, I tend to just cut out the sugar and processed food from my diet for awhile. I do think it would be interesting to put one to the test, however, especially as it has sparked quite the controversy! 🙂 I’ll have to check out Andrew Weil and the Sock Doc, both sound extremely interesting.

  5. I’m not the biggest fan of weight loss detoxes but I do think they have their own merit when it comes to bodily cleanses! I guess it’s just a matter of motive and length of the program as well as what it entails!

    • Yeah for weight loss I completely agree, they are not the answer. I don’t know about their merit for cleanses though either, I’m wary. But I’d be interested to test one out.

  6. What a great post! I’ve done a 24 hour juice cleanse… that was… okay. I pretty much just binge ate the next day. Greeeeat. But last summer I went vegan (though I’ve lightened up on it since then and don’t really count as vegan anymore) and when I was really strict about it I felt lots of changes in my body that were apparently due to detoxification. Headaches and crabbiness were the most pronounced. Apparently I was getting over the sugar hump?
    Brennan @ Yum Run recently posted…Hot Date and the Harlem Shake. Not Together, Thank Goodness.My Profile

    • I went vegan last May as well and I felt a lot better after about a month, but have slowly slipped back to old ways. I need to get over the sugar hump, I think I definitely have a bit of an unhealthy love of sugar.

    • That is great that you learned from it, I don’t think it is the sort of thing I would do often. I’m curious to try it though. I also find eating dinner earlier helps, I snack all afternoon if I don’t eat!

  7. I’ve never done a detox myself but I’m kind of intrigued by the idea. Mainly in terms of getting rid of toxins from my body and the whole notion of “resetting” my body. However, the whole idea of a heavily restricted diet is what holds me back. I know that it’s only for a short period of time but I know that I would be miserable (especially for my poor husband). I’m interested in what you find and if you do test one out.
    Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted…Getting the kids styled for springMy Profile

    • Yeah I like the idea of going through a few days of hardship, to come out of it eating better and not craving any of the junk and caffeine I sometimes turn too! And to end up with nicer skin and hair and feel better overall. I guess I’m just curious if any of them can actually do it!

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