Everybody seems to be detoxing, but is it safe? There is no short answer to this question and it is surrounded by controversy so I will give you some “food for thought” and some tools for you to decide if it is right for you. There are many variations of detoxing methods and as a Registered Dietitian (RD) I am going to focus on nutritional detox. I recently attended a lecture by Doctor Mullin http://thefoodmd.com/the-inside-tract at the annual FNCE conference 2013 and I came away with some great information.
People decide to detox for many reasons. Such as for weight loss, initiating a new diet plan, to attempt to rid their bodies of toxins or for optimal gastrointestinal health.
So should you do it and what are the potential concerns to nutritional detox?
Chances are your body contains toxins even if you work hard at avoiding them as toxins surround us in our environment. Toxins such as heavy metals have been found in water supplies and in lead paint for example; BPA is found in credit card receipts and numerous other items. In fact, according to Doctor Mullin studies show that the umbilical cord of newborn babies contains at least 200 toxins.
The reality is we cannot complete detoxify our bodies. The most common toxins that seem to affect the human body include pesticides, PCB, Heavy metals & BPA. In fact BPA is so widely distributed it’s very difficult to avoid. The problem with toxins is they have been linked to disease, for instance garden pesticides have been linked to leukemia.
Toxins are stored in fat and as we attempt to break down body fat we are disrupting the toxins, but they may not necessarily leave the body. In the worst-case scenarios we can make things worse when breaking down body fat if we do not also consume adequate water and fiber to help move the toxins out of the body. Fiber also helps cultivate healthy (good) gut bacteria.
The detox rituals that concern me the most are those that involve prolonged juicing, which generally lack fiber, is high in fructose (a sugar) and doesn’t contain enough protein. Juicing can also lead to an electrolyte imbalance, which can be quite dangerous. Another type of detox is colon or colonic detoxing, such as hydrotherapy, which can be outright dangerous; it has been linked to perforation of the colon, infection, dehydration & even kidney failure, which can lead to death. All of these have been identified and written about in the medical literature.
So what do I recommended if you want to detox safely, lets focus on what you should eat and drink to “detox” here are some much safer and effective ways:
During your Detox:
- Drink green tea
- Give up highly processed foods
- Drink lots of water and not out of a plastic bottle, or at least make sure it is BPA free
- Use much less plastic
- Don’t microwave in plastic use glass for storing food
- Reduce or better still eliminate your alcohol and caffeine intake
- Eat organic foods to avoid pesticides or at a minimum wash and clean your fruits and vegetable
- Check what kind of cleaning products you are using? Do they contain known toxins?
- Eat more cruciferous vegetables, (Cauliflower, broccoli, brussel sprouts etc.) Which have been linked to inhibiting tumors
- Eat foods in season and buy them locally from organic farmers
- Shop clean and avoid the dirty dozen list of fruits and vegetables http://www.organic.org/articles/showarticle/article-214
- Eat foods rich in phytochemicals/phytonutrients: brightly colored fruits and vegetables (yellow, orange, red, green, white, blue, purple), whole grains/cereals, and beans containing phytochemicals may decrease the risk of developing certain cancers as well as diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease.
- Try going Vegan, at least during your Detox
For a complete list of phytochemicals and further details visit:
Be safe get your nutrition information from a credible source such as a Registered Dietitian or a gastroenterologist.
- Remember if it sounds too good to be true it probably is!