In today’s Myth Monday post, I’m writing about the current diet trend of detoxing, juicing and cleansing diets. This topic has been the subject of much debate in the field of health and nutrition. So I guess the question of the day is: Is a detox or cleansing diet good for you?
To clarify, (in general) a detox or cleanse is a diet that limits you to eating or drinking only certain foods or supplements, often in the form of a drink or juice, for a certain period of time. This is supposed to purify your body by ridding it of toxins and waste that have accumulated in it over time, often due to unhealthy eating habits.
I wanted to see what other registered dietitian’s were saying on the subject, so I rounded up some great posts and quotes from some fabulous RD bloggers. You might be surprised to see the different points of view offered by them! Be sure to check out their website or full post on the topic to learn more!
- In this post registered dietitian Rebecca Clyde of Be Truly Nourished talks about juicing for detoxing and cleansing purposes.
Rebecca’s take home message from the article states that, “increasing your fruit and vegetable consumption is always great! I would always recommend whole fruits over juice, but if eating whole fruits/vegetables isn’t logical for you, juicing is better than nothing! When it comes to the “juice fasting” concept, in my clinical experience it would likely not cause any significant damage if followed for a few days a couple times per year.”
She also notes that following a juicing-only diet will most likely result in a diet lacking in calories and some nutrients, such as protein and vitamin B12. Instead of using juicing as a way to detox your body, Rebecca suggests to drink juice as a treat or to occasionally add it as a way to get in your 5-a-day fruit and vegetable servings.
- In an article titled “Juicing: Is it Worth It?“on her blog (The Nutrition Adventure), registered dietitian Karman Meyer talks the pros and cons to juicing and includes a juicer payback calculator in the post.
Karman states, “Fresh juices can provide a variety of vitamins and minerals, which for people who do not consume adequate amounts of plant foods on a regular basis, it will certainly have them feeling better (no surprise).” She adds that “juicing should be a supplement to your daily diet–a way to squeeze in additional vitamins and minerals” but not completely replace eating whole fruits and vegetables.
- Registered dietitian Caroline Kaufman of carolinekaufman.com recently wrote a short blurb about activated charcoal in drinks in her weekly newsletter, inspired by an article in The Wall Street Journal titled: Does Your Lemonade Need Activated Charcoal?
Caroline’s response: “I will start by saying if you enter “activated charcoal detox” into the leading scientific journal database, you get…nada. There’s a study that did find activated charcoal is great at reducing levels of water-soluble vitamins like Vitamin C, niacin, B6, and B12 – you know, the stuff that definitely keeps your body healthy – in a sample of apple juice. If you google it, lots of random people have lots of opinions. I pick science. Your body has a grade A detoxifying system that works 24-7. That’s one less thing to worry about, right? Annnd you’re welcome.”
- Registered dietitian Emily Cope, of RDN Mommy, shares her view of detox and cleanse diets in this blog post:
Emily states, “Stop looking towards quick fixes and start to understand that a true healthy lifestyle, based on the foundation of organic, natural, plant based foods is what will help to optimize our health. By following a healthy lifestyle and eating for optimal nutrition we will achieve both a reduction in the number of toxins we consume as well as aiding the bodies natural ability to remove the toxins we do encounter on a daily basis.”
- Registered dietitian Nita Sharda shares her perspective on her blog, Carrots and Cake:
Nita states, “The pursuit of the perfect detox has become a million dollar industry that targets people looking for “a quick fix”. Rather than embracing this principle [of moderation is key], our ‘slowly but surely’ health model is quickly being replaced by compulsiveness, extremism, and the impatience for instant gratification. We’ve all had moments of overindulgence and feeling the need to “reboot” how we eat, but don’t be swayed to believe any one product will transform your body or health for that matter. The take away: a consistently healthy, well-balanced diet is the best “cleanse”.”
Are cleansing and detox diets good for you? Dietitians weigh in on the subject! Click To Tweet
- Registered dietitian Danielle Omar of Food Confidence adds to the discussion, stating:
“Safe, appropriate detox/cleansing can be necessary and beneficial in the prevention of disease. There is a large body of scientific evidence that verifies the ability of specific foods, herbs/spices to “upregulate” and aid the body’s natural detoxification systems (cabbage, kale, turmeric and green tea, for example). I have personally witnessed 100’s of my own clients report an increase in energy, lowered cholesterol and blood pressure, clearer skin, and less brain fog when they engage in a food/supplement -based detoxifying protocol.”
- As a guest post on Champagne Nutrition, registered dietitian Mary Purdy gives 3 reasons a detox might be right for you. And by detox, she is referring to eating “fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices, nuts, seeds, beans, grains, and cutting out things like sugar, caffeine, alcohol, processed foods, meat, dairy and gluten”
Mary states, “You can detox for two days or two weeks, but taking time off of a typical, more processed diet to infuse it with a bounty of whole-foods-based nutrients is a boon to your body’s organs of detox particularly the liver, kidneys, and gastrointestinal tract.” She adds that a detox may help give your body a “boost in nutritional status”, help your “body say “farewell” to [toxins]” (from a possible high toxic burden on the liver), and “change the way that you view food.” Sounds like some good reasons to me!
- Lastly, here is a video by registered dietitian Abbey Sharp of Abbey’s Kitchen. It’s titled “Natural Cleanse – Proven Way to Cleanse and Detox.” She adds some humor to the subject, yet still presents the information and her perspective on the topic in a great way.
So what is my point of view on cleansing and detox diets? I agree with many of the comments above, that when approached in a way that isn’t long-term fasting, drinking only juice for days on end or forcing yourself to only eat or drink something you absolutely hate, a ‘detox’ or ‘cleanse’ can be beneficial to our bodies. Under the guidance of a registered dietitian or other healthcare provider, by taking a couple days or a week to eat a diet rich in whole, mostly unprocessed foods is a great way to help your body out by giving your already working detox organs a little boost.
What do you think about detox diets? Let me know in the comments!