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5 things to consider before a detox diet

Annisa Ihsani
Annisa Ihsani

Writer, book nerd, and mother of one.

Jakarta  /  Fri, April 8, 2016  /  03:31 pm
5 things to consider before a detox diet

What could be better than green smoothies to cleanse your organs? (Shutterstock/-)

So you have decided to go on a detox diet. The plan is to eat only fruits and vegetables for three days. After all, your body needs a break from all the junk food, right?

What could be better than green smoothies to cleanse your organs? All the toxins will be flushed out of your body, so you'll lose weight. Your skin will also be brighter from the antioxidants in the fruits and veggies. In just three days! What's not to love?

But before you empty your wallet to order that detox juice, there are a few things about detoxing that you need to consider.

What can be classified as toxins?

By definition, detoxification is the removal of toxic substances from the body. While in medicine these toxic substances include alcohol and drugs, in alternative detox diets the definition is somewhat vague.

We often hear that the body accumulates toxins from gluten, carbohydrates, genetically modified food, processed food, deep-fried food, pesticide residue, or a combination of them all. But in what way are they toxic? What illnesses are caused by specific types of toxins?

Marketing campaigns love to blame chemicals as the cause of toxin buildup in the body. Chemicals are bad, right? You know the saying: if you can't pronounce the ingredient, don't eat it.

However, ascorbic acid is really just vitamin C. Just because you are not familiar with the chemical name, doesn't mean it's bad. In fact, you'll have trouble finding food that does not include chemicals because everything in the universe is made up of chemicals.

When it comes to toxicity, everything can be toxic at some level. Broccoli contains cyanide and tomatoes contain solanine, but they are generally at doses too low to pose a health risk. Just remember that it's not a question of whether it's natural or synthetic, but rather the dose that makes something poisonous.

Your body has its own detox mechanism

I mean, it's a product of millions of years of evolution. The liver contains enzymes to break down chemicals in the blood. If there are toxic substances in the blood, it modifies and eliminates them in bile.

The kidneys filter blood and remove waste products through urine. There is simply no need to do fruit detoxes periodically because these organs are already detoxifying 24/7.

Unless there is a failure, in which case you have a serious condition that spinach cannot cure anyway, just trust your organs to do their jobs.

No evidence that fruit and veggies cleanse your system

I don't care if you make your green smoothie from organic, locally grown, non-genetically modified kale. To say that it cleans the colon is a disgrace to biology.

Weight loss is from low calorie intake

It's usually caused by losses in water and muscle mass, not from the (nonexistent) toxins being flushed out.

Don't worry, if after three days you return to your normal diet, you'll regain your weight.

So detox diets are a scam, but are they harmful?

If done for short periods of time, such diets should not cause serious problems in relatively healthy people. However, the body needs protein, carbs and other nutrients from foods that are not allowed in detox diets.

It's good that you're eating more fruits and veggies, but don't eat only them. Just have a sensible, balanced diet.

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Annisa Ihsani is a writer, book nerd, and mother of one. She is the author of middle-grade novel "Teka-Teki Terakhir" (Gramedia Pustaka Utama, 2014 ).

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