Detox and cleansing diet plans full of myths

For many, the new year means it’s time to “cleanse” and “detox.”

But what does that mean?

Some plans involve fasting or living on liquids, while others add more fruits and vegetables to your diet. The most extreme of the lot can require taking herbs and supplements while cleansing the colon (with enemas).

Despite the popularity of these plans, there’s very little scientific evidence to support the need to give your organs a digestive vacation.

In fact, detoxing this way may rob your organs of vital nutrients. So, before you ditch your fork, consider these 5 detox myths:

  • Myth No. 1: You will lose weight. Sure, a detox might help you shed a few pounds because you are consuming so few calories, but once you resume your normal diet, the weight will return.
  • Myth No. 2: You’ll rid your body of harmful toxins. Our livers, kidneys and colons are remarkably effective at eliminating toxins, no matter what we eat, drink or breathe. Ironically, most detox diets restrict the nutrients your organs need to do their job
  • Myth No. 3: Any symptoms you are experiencing means the detox is working. Detoxers typically experience headache, fatigue, nausea, dizziness and bad breath. The creators of detox diets will say those symptoms are a sign the toxins are on their way out. More accurately, they’re what happens when you don’t eat and drink enough calories. Specifically, ketosis (when our bodies use fat for energy instead of carbohydrates) can cause bad breath, and your headache could be from caffeine withdrawal.
  • Myth No. 4: You’ll feel better/have more energy. Since detox diets typically nix sugar- and fat-laden, processed foods, it makes sense that some people feel better during a “cleanse.” Trouble is, a few days of fasting ups the ante for nutritional deficiencies, which could lead to dizziness and fatigue. A better approach: limit high-calorie, low-nutrition foods for life — not just during a 7-day detox.
  • Myth No. 5: You’ll reverse a chronic condition. While most people can safely handle a short-term fast, detox diets can be harmful for people with certain medical conditions. In people with diabetes, for example, they can lead to dangerously low blood sugar levels.