Monday, 1 September 2014

Detox diets – fab? Or fiction?

The word ‘detox’ is a popular buzz word used in today’s dieting culture. Detox diets usually last around five days, but can range from one day to a month. Usual promised side effects include; rapid weight loss, improved hair, skin and nails condition, improved energy levels, boosted immune systems and ridding women of the curse of cellulite. These promises are cruel in the way that target our most sensitive and self-aware areas and guarantees to cure them all, so of course we’re going to sign up in our droves. Detox diets usually include:

  • Fasting for short periods of time
  • Only eating certain foods (e.g. only fruits and vegetables)
  • Excluding gluten, eggs, dairy
  • Taking ‘cleansers’ (laxatives) and other pills which can cause irreversible damage


So we’re going to pull them apart and look at why they are so potentially harmful.

1. Fasting – Fasting can severely limit the amount of nutrients and energy required by the body. It may cause rapid weight loss, but the majority of this is water and glycogen (carbohydrate stores in the body) not actual fat loss. In addition it slows your metabolism as your body goes into starvation mode, so when you do start eating again, the weight will pile back on, and frequently more than you initially lost

2. The ‘Juice Cleanse’ – the juice cleanse type of detox can cost around £65-£90 per day, and when you consider that you can buy three litres of juice for a fiver in most supermarkets, the people who came up with this idea and marketed it must be laughing. The idea of only drinking juice means cutting out essential amino acids needed for normal day to day function and fats need for vitamin and mineral absorption. It's high acid intake, means causing irreversible damage to teeth, and it's high sugar intake can be very dangerous for those with diabetes and kidney disease.

3. Excluding gluten, eggs and dairy – these are all rich in amino acids, vitamin D and calcium amongst other things. Excluding these can cause poor bone growth and maintenance, leading to conditions such as osteoporosis, brittle bones and more. Unless instructed to eliminate these from your diet by a qualified health professional, who will recommend other dietary sources to get the nutrition you need, don't exclude these from your diet.

4. Taking unresearched pills and powders - to me, this is the scariest. I have looked at some of these bottles and amongst the terrifying spelling mistakes and recommendations such as 'each pill contains 100% of your vitamin C requirements - dose take five a day'(?!) potentially causing toxifying effects on the body including kidney damage, liver damage and more, and that's if what is in this pill or powder is even in there, in pure uncut form. A recent study showed that less than 30% of supplements bought from major retailers online actually contained any of what is claimed on the label.

Many young men and women have died from taking un-researched diet pills, others have had to have large bowel resections, colostomy bags fitted and nerve damage, so why risk it?



The idea behind a ‘detox diet’ is that from time to time we need to cleanse our bodies of the toxins consumed in daily life, particularly after a splurge or perhaps before a holiday. However as we have multiple chemically controlled organs such as kidneys, a liver, a gut and the biggest organ in the body, skin, that all work together to constantly filter out, break down and excrete toxins such as alcohol, medications, products of digestion, dead cells and chemicals from pollution and bacteria, perhaps we should think before paying for a detox diet that is unnecessary and potentially harmful.

But if weight loss if your goal, here is one of my favourite healthy eating meals that are quick and easy to prepare and good for the whole family:

Lemongrass and lime chicken skewers

2 tbspns of soy sauce
1 lemongrass stem finely chopped
grated zest and juice of one lemon
1 garlic clove crushed
2 tbpns fresh coriander chopped
600g chicken breast chopped into chunks
Three peppers chopped into chunks

To serve:
Wild rice
Salad
Lime wedges

Mix together soy sauce, lemon grass, lemon juice and zest, garlic and coriander, and marinade chicken in sauce for twenty minutes. Skewer chicken and pepper chunks onto skewers and grill for 8-10 minutes, turning often to ensure cooking evenly. Meanwhile boil leftover marinade for several minutes to ensure no bacteria left, and use as a sauce or dressing. Serve with cooked wild rice, salad and lime wedges. Easy peasy, and the leftover chicken goes great with salad the next day!






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