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Detoxification, some believe, is a type of treatment to remove damaging toxins from the body. No doubt, the industrial age has added lots of chemicals to our environment and our diet. As a result, the buildup of these toxins in the body is believed to decrease immunity, slow metabolism, decrease overall energy and set the base for chronic diseases.
Detoxing: Marketing Vs Science
To date, there has been no scientific evidence which supports the theory of cleansing or detoxification in terms of following any diet, taking supplements, fasting, colonics, or saunas. These treatments and diets, which often carry an expensive price tag and are marketed by celebrities, may actually have various side effects attached to them like nausea, headache, lightheadedness and so on.
In ancient practices such as Ayurveda, fasting and dietary restrictions were considered to purify body, mind and soul. But in recent medical times, cleansing has become just a marketing word for the industry and services manufacturing these detoxification products. One may go on a detox diet for a week and lose weight — but losing weight is no way connected to cleansing your body of the toxins.
There has been a lot of debate related to the pros and cons of detoxification by many medical experts, nutritionists, dietitians and fitness experts. Though some believe that detoxing has no place in nutrition care and eating healthy and balanced meals is the only way to keep your body healthy, others believe that detoxing and fasting can be used as a motivational tool to inculcate healthy eating habits. It not only gives you a break from your old eating habits, but also helps you to reset your habits in an easier way.
The Risks Of Detoxification Programs
- Almost all detox plans include "colon cleansing", which may cause dehydration, nausea, bloating, vomiting and cramping.
- There may be physical harm caused by toxic components in the cleansing products or by drug and nutrient interactions.
- Long-term fasting may alter the metabolism and weaken gut integrity. Once the gut is weakened, bloating, constipation, diarrhea and cramping occur frequently once the food is reintroduced.
- These long periods of fasting and restrictive diet may lead to vitamin and mineral deficiency, lower blood sugar levels, skin breakdown and muscle wasting.
- Detox treatments that use laxatives in the long term may cause serious constipation and various other gastrointestinal distresses, once their use is discontinued.
- Detox diets may impair immune function due to a lack of essential nutrients and anti-oxidants, resulting in frequent sore throats and other illnesses.
- Weight loss is pretty common after a detox but unfortunately, it is due to losses in water and muscle tissue, depending on the diet followed. If a person's diet and activity levels remain the same, all weight will be regained over time.