Detox: the good the bad and the extreme!

I didn’t want to fall into the trap this January of writing about detox diets, but as a result of much controversy in the run up to Christmas over this very subject, I felt that there were certain things which needed to be said on the subject.

There are a lot of arguments for and against detox diets which I’m not going to go into here. I feel that the main problem in assessing the benefits (or not) of detox diets largely depends on what people view as constituting a detox.  Most people would undoubtedly benefit from a sensibly constructed well balanced detox diet (especially after the excesses of Christmas) but like most diets and eating plans there are good ones, bad ones and extreme ones and common sense need to be exercised in deciding which detox diet to follow. Not all detox diets should be tarred with the same brush and newspaper headlines such as the following from the London Evening Standard in December;

“Ditch the detox diets, they’re a lot of nonsense”, says Government advisor
Comments like this are simply not helpful, when surely we should be encouraging people to take care of their own health through good food and lifestyle choices.

Other recent headlines which spring to my mind in the run up to Christmas were:
“Bad eating habits costing UK Health Service £6 billion every year”


“Alcohol-induced liver problems soar among young adults”.

I would argue that if more people embarked on a sensible, well balanced detox diet in January this may act as a spring board to longer term healthy eating and drinking habits which in turn would result in a decrease of alcohol induced liver problems and savings to the NHS.

So what is a sensible approach to detox?

At its simplest a detox diet may involve cutting out;  wheat, refined grains, dairy, caffeine, alcohol, bad fats, processed foods and added salt and including; plenty of water, fresh fruit and vegetable, good clean sources of protein from organic sources of fish, white meat, beans and pulses, nuts and seeds.

All you are really doing here is eating food in a pure and unprocessed form, cutting out all the most common food allergens and foods which irritate the digestive tract, taking in good sources of essential fats, carbohydrate and protein, vitamins minerals and fibre. In my experience this hardly represents irresponsible health advice!

My message here is don’t let bad press put you off going on a detox diet, but do exercise caution in choosing one which takes a sensible and balanced approach.
Just a few pointers here, don’t chose a detox diet which:

• Cuts out protein as good sources of protein are essential to good liver function.
• Cuts out carbohydrate as you need carbohydrate for energy, especially if you are embarking on an exercise regime.
• Which is excessively low in calories as you will not lose weight this way. You will lose glycogen first and then muscle. This will wreck your metabolism and predispose you to store fat long term. In fact don’t let weight loss be your reason for detoxing.
• Which excessively restricts the variety of foods on offer as this may lead to nutrient deficiencies.

And remember as always to EAT IN COLOUR!!