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The Hazards and Precautions of Detox Diets

Sunday, August 01, 2010
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Detox diets- hazards and precautions
As a detox diet is geared to throw away the body's toxins, it permits only the consumption of natural/organic foods and plenty of fluids that increase the elimination of waste, there may be some inadequacies.

As a rule detox diets are very low in calories and very high on laxatives and diuretics. If not planned and implemented carefully, they can be rather hazardous.

  • Some detox diets require a drastic slashing of calories. The minimum caloric intake for anyone should be 1200-1400 calories. When the body gets less than its minimum requirement, it stops producing the growth hormone, which reduces the levels of insulin, thyroid and other hormones. This leads to hormonal imbalances, and changes in the body metabolism.
  • Severe restriction of calories can lead to nutrient deficiencies. Many detox diets also require the complete elimination of certain foods eg. milk, which being the primary source of calcium, can lead to its deficiency.
  • Nutrient deficiencies may lead to weakening of the immune system.
  • When calories are severely restricted, the body may go into starvation mode, and slow down its metabolism making it hard to lose weight.
  • Long term fasts can cause muscle breakdown, another reason for slowing down of the metabolism. Weight lost is often due to muscle loss and not fat loss.
  • Detox diets which have a lot of laxatives and diuretics can lead to mineral deficiencies and headaches, fatigue, nausea and dizziness. The healthy intestinal bacteria may get flushed out as well leading to gastro intestinal problems.



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User Comments

03 July, 2011 | growth-flexv | Reply

growth-flexv Cool Post! Very informative dude. I saw this site while browsing and think it may be relevant keep up the good work!

16 November, 2010 | Naina Bhargava, Ossining, NY | Reply

Naina Bhargava, Ossining, NY Drinking these juices is plain dumb and dangerous. It is usually people who are overweight who try out these fads based on someones recommendation. A lot of people who are overweight quite often also have undiagnosed issues of high blood sugar or blood pressure and these kind of juices can cause major spikes or crashes in blood sugar levels that may prove to be dangerous.

This kind of pseudo cleansing puts a lot of stress on your body, hormones, metabolic rate etc as you are not providing the body the sustenance it is used to and needs. That's beside the fact that they taste disgusting and nauseating.
So, be careful. Dont mess with nature, eat sensibly and a little less quantity and exercise.

13 November, 2010 | Parimala Keremath | Reply

Parimala Keremath My mom fasts every Thursday and Saturday. She does not eat or drink anything from morning till evening. After the evening puja, by 7.00 pm she has a cup of poha or sabudana upma or usal with a glass of milk. Is this the right way of fasting. She does not even drink water between 6 am to 6 pm.

13 November, 2010 | Mrinal | Reply

Mrinal Hi Parimala,
A few questions our dietitians might need from you -
Your mom's age, does she have any health conditions and how many years has she been doing this?
Also, is she doing this for religious reasons or as a way to cut back on what she is consuming.

15 November, 2010 | Parimala Keremath | Reply

Parimala Keremath My mom is 61 yrs old and a diabetic, but her sugar levels are always under control. Her weight is normal. She has been doing this for about 20 yrs now and does it for religious reasons.

03 August, 2010 | Vijayalakshmi Reddy | Reply

Vijayalakshmi Reddy Hello,

First I would like to compliment your team for coming up with such great and helpful articles. They are very lay man friendly. I am a regular follower of your website.

I have three questions here :

1. Is consuming a balanced meal, more foods coming from fruits and vegetables, whole grains and pulses, low fat diary products and especially the Indian herbs and spices ( we South Indians cook specific preparations with specific spices) act as a detox diet - meaning cleansing the system everyday or keeping it clean

2. Is it necessary to use mild laxatives and diuretics along with fruits and vegetable, no grain diet to cleanse the system

3. Doesn't our system get cleansed on a daily basis by just including lots of water, green tea, fresh fruits and vegetable juices in our daily diet

03 August, 2010 | Geetanjali Kelkar | Reply

Geetanjali Kelkar Dear Ms Reddy,
1. A balanced meal contains an appropriate proportion of all the six major nutrients protein, carbs, fats, vitamins and minerals and water. The addition of spices to various Indian foods have many medicinal properties and help to cleanse the system naturally without any hazards. Moreover, these spices also have certain therapeutic benefits as cholesterol lowering,glucose control and are anticarcinogenic.
2. If our daily diet is rich in fibre- whole grain cereals,sprouts, fruits and vegetables and adequate water. The cleansing and flushing out toxins is done routinely. So there is no need of a mild laxative to cleanse the system.
3. As mentioned in the article there is actually no need of a specialized diet to remove the toxins sludge.
Eat healthy, exercise and be fit. There is absolutely no need to go to a spa to detox.

03 August, 2010 | Mrinal | Reply

Mrinal Thank you Ms. Reddy.
Our efforts only matter when we are able to connect with our readers such as yourself and get positive feedback.

Regarding your query's, I will let our dietetic team answer your questions.

02 August, 2010 | Mohit_B | Reply

Mohit_B These detox diets are crap - why would you want to drink these green concoctions and green pills with unknown stuff and get unstoppable diarrhea.
I believe in high intensity exercise to sweat toxins out daily and drink plenty of fluids specially water to cleans my system.

02 August, 2010 | Ila Mansukhani, Seattle, WA | Reply

Ila Mansukhani, Seattle, WA I visit a facility for 10 days every year in Chennai- where they offer yoga twice a day with a detox ayurveda meal plan. Each meal is 1/3 smaller in serving size. also quite liquidy- very little grain if at all.

I do lose weight religiously every single year (about 3 kg)- but also do feel the diarrhea is a contributing factor to my weight loss.
Those 10 days I spend a lot of timein the bathroom as well. Yes, my skin feels good at the end.

there are also some juices we drink that are bitter with aftertaste but they help clean my digestive tract.

I have asked what the ingredients are but was politely informed not to ask again.
But, I do wonder if I should be doing this or not.

03 August, 2010 | Poonam Vaswani | Reply

Poonam Vaswani Hello Ms Mansukhani,
A lot of people believe in taking detox programmes to rid their bodies of toxins.
Like you have mentioned, the number of calories are restricted. Also, the amount of carbs given are much lower than the body is accustomed to eating. A large amount of fluid is lost from the body when cleansers, laxatives and diuretics are administered to flush out the toxins. All these are together bound to lead to weight loss.
The body has an excellent mechanism of flushing out toxins and it is not really necessary to go through these processes, as long as you lead a healthy lifestyle and eat a balanced diet.

02 August, 2010 | Aparajitha | Reply

Aparajitha As far as I remember our traditional methods also work on the same principle. Just so that we follow a system, fasting is attached to religious programs, Some times a days fast, sometimes fruit and diary or sometimes only fruits are permitted. So coming to think of it is a kind of Detox don't you think?

03 August, 2010 | Poonam Vaswani | Reply

Poonam Vaswani Yes you are absolutely right. Fasts are a kind of detoxification of the body, but only if carried out according to traditional principles. Have you noticed the way people fast these days? It appears to be more like a "feast". They eat all kinds of fried and fatty savouries & sweets which probably add to the load of toxins in the body .

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