Are you planning a detox diet? Here are its pros and cons

Detoxification is key to optimal health, but what we have to consider is avoiding extremes for long periods of time.
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Detoxification is key to optimal health. There are several detoxification pathways and each person has unique vulnerabilities. Identifying this is critical.

Detoxification is impactful in disease and symptoms, and should be addressed before protocols. The primary organs of detoxification in your body are the kidneys, lymph, skin, liver, colon, and lungs.

Your body filters immense metabolic waste every day via the kidneys. One of the greatest ways to stay healthy is to use this detoxification pathway optimally by drinking copious amounts of water and caffeine-free and sugar-free fluids throughout the day and encourage cleansing.

The liver is the primary organ of detoxification. Many health challenges have roots in poor liver health. Your large intestine is a mechanism via which your liver releases waste out of the body in the form of poop. Any constant accumulation in the form of constipation creates structural defects.

Pros and cons of popular detox diets

There are many popular detox diets and you might have tried many of them yourself. All popular detox diets can have pros and cons. I am sure that being aware of them will help you not only choose the right approach, but also know where to be cautious.

Most modern detox diets have some link to naturopathic or ayurvedic approaches and are based on the principle that optimising detoxification improves functioning of body systems. As we look through popular detox diets, it will help us understand the nuances of these pros and cons.

What are popular detox diet trends?

Very popular approaches include the juice cleanse, liver cleanse, colon cleanse, and green smoothies. Let’s take a quick dive into each of these.

1.    A juice cleanse is probably the most popular and common method of detox out there. There are several popular brands where you can buy a kit with six juices through the day. The ingredients that go into these include fruit and vegetables, often without the fibre, and as cold pressed versions.

The benefit to this is that it gives the body a nutrient boost by concentrating these vegetables, but the cons include immense blood sugar dysregulation when done too often or for too long.

Those with sensitive blood sugar rhythms can feel an imbalance in blood sugar within one day. The claim is that you drop several kilograms in a week, but typically it is not weight loss itself. It can be great occasionally to lighten the load on digestion, but watery foods without fibre imbalance vata, put out the fire of agni, and make adrenal function sensitive. If you do not want to feel imbalanced in the nervous system, this option is best avoided.

2.    A liver cleanse can be done in several ways, but generally the method is removing food fats from the diet temporarily to give the liver a break. The benefits are that there is solid science to this. When the body does not receive fats in the diet, the liver and gallbladder get a break, and this allows for some deeper cleansing in the gastrointestinal tract. Combining this with increasing fibre from plant foods means that you support the body in elimination. Optimising the liver with a short fat break helps it to improve liver function. The cons arise when it is followed as a long-term method of eating, such as a low fat or no fat diet. These then lead to increased vata, weakened adrenal function, poor brain function, tendency towards depression, poor hormones, and unhealthy skin. It should only be done short term.

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3.    Colon cleanses are done by adding laxative ingredients into juices and fluids to create a detox from the colon. These include products like clay and senna, which are bind toxins from the colon and help it to move out of the body. These additives can be harsh on the gentle mucosa of the gastrointestinal tract, and using them often can make the colon lazy, increase vata, and harm the colon. Eventually, it can also lead to the inability o evacuate without the help of these. This is a dangerous problem, one that no one should end up with. If there is a reason why you want to consider such a measure, always work with a trained naturopathic health practitioner, and avoid experimenting with protocols out there.

4.    Green smoothies are more common than colon cleanses. You might have tried them yourself. Ingredients such as chlorella and spirulina are combined with spinach, celery, and other cleansing vegetables.

The risk of using these after a night of binge drinking can be confusing to the body. While they can be a little better than juices which do not have fibre, having too many green smoothies, which are bitter foods, increase vata.

In moderation, bitter food promotes flavour of other tastes, kindle agni with dry light quality, have a drying and cleansing nature, break up toxins, kill pathogens, provide relief to burning sensation, itching, fainting, skin disorders. In small amounts they relieve intestinal gas and acts as digestive aid. In excess they create imbalance in the system, can be nauseating, deplete dhatus which are body tissues, cause dizziness, unconsciousness, promote emaciation, dry skin, reduce sexual energy, increase fatigue and reduce bone marrow leading to osteoporosis.

Detoxification is key to optimal health, but the main thing to consider is avoiding extremes for long periods of time. Giving the digestive system and the liver a break for a day or lightening foods for a week can be very helpful. Making juice cleanses a frequent part of your week can be unbalancing. 

Edited by Megha Reddy