The Skinny on Detox Diets - Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare

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Published on September 28, 2015

The "Skinny" on Detox Diets

Chances are you’ve heard about or known someone who has tried a detox diet in an attempt to lose weight, boost energy levels, clear up skin conditions and more. But many of these popular detox diets can actually rob the body of important nutrients and slow down metabolism.

Other downsides of many detox diets include:

  • Dehydration
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Colon damage

The Body’s Detox System

Oftentimes people don’t realize that the body has its own extraordinary internal detoxification system.

  • The Liver: Your first line of defense against toxins is your liver, which acts like a filter in preventing toxic substances contained in foods from passing into your blood stream.
  • The Colon: This organ has bacteria that produce both healthy and unhealthy chemicals. You want to keep your colon flowing regularly since its main role is to flush out toxic chemicals before they can do you any harm.
  • The Kidneys: Like clockwork, the kidneys are constantly filtering your blood and getting rid of toxins in the form of urine.

According to Andrea Hartnett, RDN, CD, CDE, a Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist for Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare, the key is to eat foods that help your internal detoxification system run efficiently while maintaining your metabolism.

Some popular detox plans consist of fruit and vegetable juices or smoothies. These plans tend to be low in protein which helps maintain lean muscle. If we don’t get enough protein, our muscles start to break down and in turn this can slows the metabolism. More lean muscle mass equals a faster metabolism, which in turn makes it easier to lose weight.

Detox Diet Tips

If you do start a detox diet, choose lean meats, skinless poultry, fish, eggs, beans, nuts and seeds to maintain your muscle mass. In addition to lean sources of protein, Hartnett recommends incorporating some of the following foods to rev up your internal detoxification system:

  • Fruits and vegetables: A diet high in fruit and vegetables contributes a wide range of phytochemicals, many of which promote detoxification enzymes
  • Cruciferous vegetables: Compounds in crucifers such as cabbage, broccoli, collards, kale and Brussels sprouts promote enzymes that regulate detoxification in the liver
  • Turmeric: Curcumin in turmeric has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties
  • Water: Water facilitates urinary excretion and bowel motility, supports the lymphatic system and replenishes fluids lost through sweat
  • Fibrous foods: Soluble and insoluble fiber, as found in flax seeds, beans, oats and brown rice, can bind to toxins and bile and carry them out of the body through the stool
  • Probiotics: Beneficial bacteria from probiotic supplements or fermented foods such as yogurt and lacto-fermented vegetables protect the intestines and may inhibit the growth of pathogenic bacteria, which produce ammonia and other toxic metabolites
  • Eggs, garlic and onion: Sulfur supports the body's production of glutathione, an antioxidant sometimes called "the master detoxifier"

“Try avoiding detoxes that eliminate whole food groups,” Hartnett says. “And remember, three days of detoxing will not undo years of eating a standard American diet. It’s best to eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and low fat dairy products to keep your internal detoxification system happy.”

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The Skinny on Detox Diets