Debunking Diets: Crash Diets and Detoxes
At any given time, there seems to be some sort of popular diet that is the key we’ve all been waiting for. Over the next few weeks, we will be going through the good, the bad and the ugly of popularized ‘diets’ to help you understand what makes most sense for YOU and YOUR body. This week I’m going to be evaluating some popularized crash diets.
We’ve all seen stars in the media who have gone on extreme, short-term diets to drop a couple of pounds before a big event. Most of these crash diets are labeled as ‘detoxes’ or ‘cleanses’, however how supportive are these diets and are they doing what they promise? I am going to go through 2 of the most popular detoxes and explain what exactly they can and can’t do for your body. But first, let's talk about what you DO need from food for proper elimination and ‘detox’.
We have written BLOGS in the past where we go through detox and how to properly eliminate. When it comes to food, there are 3 things you NEED to detox/eliminate properly.
Fiber: The roughage from fiber –plant-based- is essential for intestinal health. If there is no fiber in a diet, which is exhibited by a few diets below, there is suboptimal bacterial proliferation, lack of elimination of toxic material, and increased likelihood of gas and bloating.
Protein: Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and essential to virtually all enzymatic reactions in the body. We need protein for many phases of liver detoxification to help turn toxic material in the body into inert substances to be eliminated (using the fiber mentioned above).
Fat: Our gallbladder and liver require fat to release potent digestive enzymes to breakdown our food properly. What is the point in eating supremely well if the digestive enzymes can’t be produced to breakdown and absorb food? There isn’t one. So incorporate healthy plant-based fats into your diet.
WHAT: 10 -14 day cleanse consisting solely of filtered water, fresh lemon juice, cayenne pepper and maple syrup.
PRO: You will lose weight by virtue of consuming fewer calories than usual. Digestion may improve depending on what foods you were consuming prior to that (ie. if there was a highly processed, dairy and gluten based diet, bowel movements, gas and bloating might improve).
CON: Lacking fiber, protein and fats (see above). High glycemic index from maple syrup leads to spikes in blood sugar and insulin dysregulation which causes increased inflammation, fatigue and increased likelihood of holding onto fat. If there is any weight loss, it will be short-lived. It is also essentially devoid of vitamins and minerals.
VERDICT: There is more harm than good done by this ‘detox’.
WHAT: A period of time (usually 3-10 days) where you only drink vegetable and fruit juices.
PRO: Micronutrient dense so you are getting your daily dose of vitamins and minerals. You will also likely lose weight as a result from having fewer calories than usual. Can be anti-inflammatory if there is a much higher ratio of veggies to fruit.
CONS: Devoid of fats and has extremely minimal protein and fiber (not enough to carry out detoxification function of the body). Depending on what juices you get, it can have the same effect as the master cleanse on blood sugar.
VERDICT: It is great to incorporate juices into your diet plan along with whole food sources of protein, fat and fiber, but I wouldn’t recommend doing this on it’s own.
You can also incorporate liver and kidney supportive herbs as well as ones that work as alteratives (blood cleaning) and mild diuretics. Chat with an ND about how to create a sustainable plan that’s safe and effective for YOU!
Like Michael Pollan says “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants."