Thursday, December 08, 2011

Question of the day: Should I try a detox?

Ever hear of the Lemonade Diet or seen the rows of boxes in the drugstore claiming to rid your body of toxins? I’m sure they make you wonder if they really are the magic trick to losing those few extra pounds or for cleaning your digestive system after all the food you ate last weekend. The answer is no. Our bodies are designed to do this naturally on a daily basis.

With the rare exception, we are all born with two kidneys that serve this purpose amongst many other functions. Each day they filter roughly 1600 liters of blood a day to create waste that is excreted as urine. These well-trained organs maintain the proper blood volume while ridding the body of electrolytes and other components that are no longer needed. This technique, along with many other internal systems, is involved in the body’s natural detoxification process.

Most of the detox diets available require restriction of foods for long periods of time. The Master Cleanse is based on the consumption of no solid foods and only a lemonade concoction for the entirety of the detox, which can be up to 2 weeks. During this time, several important nutrients are excluded from the diet and you consume inadequate calories and macronutrients (carbohydrate, protein and fat). Others suggest the use of laxatives, which can easily cause dehydration.

Instead of a detox diet, focus on eating a varied healthy eating plan. Start by cutting back on the amount of fast food and pre-packaged goods. Enjoy naturally detoxing foods such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds.  Use the USDA "Choose My Plate" tool to determine the number of servings you need from each food group. The next time you think about testing out the latest detox diet, try eating a balanced diet that is full in fruits and vegetables and let your body do the work by itself.

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