Come next week and the first thought that is going to cross your mind is fasting. A weekend indulged in barbecues, card parties and dine outs can make you feel bloated and guilty for this sinful indulgence. And most often, the thing that comes to mind will be detoxification. Detox, which hit the popular lexicon a decade back, is now sought after by most health-conscious individuals. You might have tried it at least once or thought of trying it to meet your health goals.
“A typical detox diet includes a period of fasting, followed by a strict diet of fruit, vegetables, fruit juices, and water,” says Avni Kaul, nutritionist and founder of NutriActivania.
Detox diets are typically a short span dietary intervention designed to remove toxins from the body. According to Dr. Siddhant Bhargava, fitness and nutritional scientist, the process of detoxification involves removal of toxins from our body by following an appropriate diet regime. “Toxins are harmful chemicals present majorly in the food we consume.
Once these make their way into our bodies, these are treated through vital organs like liver and kidneys and then later are extricated through urination, sweat and bowel movements.
A detox diet boosts you to constantly stay hydrated by drinking sufficient amounts of water and consuming fresh fruits and veggies,” he says.
A typical detox diet includes avoiding particular kinds of food (especially refined sugar, added sugar, sweeteners or flavours) and is followed by some strict guidelines of sticking to specified food items. “However, a detox diet can’t be proclaimed as a sustainable diet since it eliminates some specific foods from the diet. Moreover, the human body is designed in such a way that it performs its natural detoxification. A food or drink may support in detoxification but can’t lead to it on its own,’ says dietician Nmami Agarwal, founder and CEO of Nmami Life.
The best kind of detox for you to try is the consumption of salads with seasonal vegetables, whole fruits, healthy smoothies, and natural juices. Ensure that each meal you consume contains some amount of protein, is high-fibre, has healthy fat, whole grain carbs, fresh fruits, and vegetables.
A TEMPORARY FIX
So you have been a glutton and want to know whether following the cleansing ritual can undo the crime? “Whether you binge eat or binge drink, detoxification takes it own time to eliminate the foreign substance in body. Hence, it is advisable to control your portion size while partying,” says Agarwal. She adds that people should opt for a healthy detox plan if advised by a nutritionist. “Once in a while it is fine since the body, too, needs a jump start. However, we must not forget that a detox diet can have some harmful effects on the body if followed for a long time just like fad diets,” she adds.
If losing weight is your aim then detox may not help much. “Cleansing your body once in a while by following a detox diet is extremely vital and may certainly aid you in losing weight, but may not help in lending you a permanent weight loss,” says Dr Bhargava. Even though following a detox diet has benefits like enhancing liver and kidney functioning and refining the immune system, it is important to look at the negative impact. “During detoxification, your body loses its water weight instead of fat. So once you decide to take a break from the diet and stop doing it regularly, you tend to gain back all the weight that you have lost so far,” explains Dr Bhargava.
NOTES OF CAUTION
Following a detox diet continuously can also result in loss of muscle which is not an exceptional thing if you wish to lose weight permanently. But muscles play a major role in helping you to burn down calories even if you are not doing anything. “Another important aspect that needs to be considered while you follow a detox diet is that metabolism is directly related to weight-loss. The higher the metabolism the more you move towards losing weight. And much to your surprise detox diets tend to slow down your body’s rate of metabolism. This is what makes it all the more difficult for you to lose weight even in the long-term,” he adds.
Also what needs to be noted is how an unexpected change in your diet, such as consumption of fibre-heavy fruit can cause bloating, gas and diarrhoea in some people as your body acclimatises. “Detox diets are not prescribed for pregnant women, teenagers and those with health conditions as there is the danger of consuming insufficient calories and proteins as you adapt to a new diet,” warns Kaul.