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Do Detox diets really work?

detox food

detox foodEvery time a magazine is opened we are told about a wondrous detoxifying diet that is going to help detoxify our body and result in miraculous weight loss within days or weeks!  These detoxifying diets claim that by cutting out foods such as wheat, sugar, salt and dairy it will transform our bodies and that weight loss will be imminent. Testimonials to these diets report rapid weight loss which all sounds very promising.    However do these diets really work and are they really healthy and sustainable?

The first question to ask if people are losing a lot of weight very quickly is how much they were eating of certain foods in the first place?  If consuming a diet high in carbohydrates or salt then rapid weight loss is most probably due to water loss, as these foods tend to promote water retention in the body. Making sensible dietary changes such as reducing the amount of carbohydrates and the type you eat can make a difference but it’s not necessary to cut out completely.

There has been a lot of bad press about foods such as bread and pasta, with claims suggesting that they lead to allergies and are to be avoided.   Not all individuals are allergic to wheat and it’s a rather large claim to suggest that many are not able to eat these foods. If you think you may have an intolerance/ allergy then the first step would be to speak to your GP.  Before cutting out any major food group you need to seek advice on alternative foods to replace nutrients from the foods you have cut out.

Carbohydrates are not bad for you and will not lead to weight gain if consumed as part of a balanced diet.    They give you energy; they help with digestion and studies have shown they also help with brain function and memory. It is more important to look at the amount and type in the diet.   For example whole grains such as brown bread, brown rice and pasta are slower releasing into the blood steam and therefore will keep you fuller for longer.

Foods such as hard cheese are high in fat and can be salty so they need to be eaten in small amounts but they do not need to be removed from the diet completely.  We all need calcium for our bones.  If for health or dietary purposes dairy is removed from the diet you need to ensure you are fully informed of how to get calcium into your diet from other foods.

These diets also claim to remove toxins from our bodies, yet this is something that our own natural system does each day, our body is deigned to do this. Instead of going on extreme detoxifying diet which may lead to binging on foods you have denied yourself of instead eat a varied well balanced diet.  Be sensible about your food choices, drink plenty of water and drink alcohol in moderation.  This in the long run is realistic, sustainable and better for you.

Serena Kelly graduated from St Mary’s university in 2012.   Since graduating she has worked for Morelife an NHS funded program to promote healthy eating and is currently a spokesperson for Diabetes UK.


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