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Detox Diets: Should We Bother?

Jeannette Jackson, nutritional biochemist and author of the Drop Zone Diet gives her opinion

Written by . Published on January 20th 2012.

Detox Diets: Should We Bother?

THE word 'detox' is banded about almost as much as the word 'stress' these days, but what exactly is a detox and do they ever work, particularly in the long term?

With a staggering 92 per cent of dieters already back on the biscuits and booze before the end of January, according to weightloss firm XLS-Medical, Jeannette Jackson - nutritional biochemist and author of the Drop Zone Diet - tells us if it's worth the bother...

Detoxing is big business. Type the word detox into Google and you will get 70,500,000 results in 0.13 seconds. Mega bucks can be made from the desire to feel better, look better and, of course, get thin.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines detox as ‘Treatment designed to rid the body of posionous substances especially alcohol or drugs’ but when many people decide to do a detox they simply mean they are going to change their diet, reduce their intake of high fat, sugary foods and eat healthily for a period of time.

Gwyneth Paltrow is in favour of a master cleanse that advocates 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil each night to keep the bowels moving. Nice!

Well the good news is that your body is already fantastically well equipped to deal with the unhealthy foods you pile in it from time to time. It has a multitude of biological processes all designed to break down and excrete toxins and unwanted nasties we may consume.

However, when you over populate your body with excess toxins and consume too much alcohol, your body gets over burdened and cannot detoxify the input with the output as well. You feel sluggish, heavy, thick, stagnant and trapped in a body that is fatigued, lethargic and unhealthy. This is where detox diets can come into their own.

To detox or not to detox?To detox or not to detox?

Putting fresh, vibrant, colourful foods into your body, creates a shift mentally, physically and emotionally where you feel energised, refreshed and nourished.

Many celebrities have cottoned on to the fact that detoxing makes you look amazing and they either advocate certain plans or even have their own:

Gwyneth Paltrow is in favour of a master cleanse that advocates 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil each night to keep the bowels moving. Nice!

Gwyneth Likes To DetoxGwyneth Likes To Detox

Anne Hathaway used David Kirsch’s LemonAid 48-Hour Detox Diet. Prior to the 2009 Golden Globes, she drank this four times a day for 48 hours. Definitely not to be recommended.

Leona Lewis reportedly did a month on just vegetables and water. This is highly dangerous as the body requires protein and fats on a daily basis so a definite no-no on the health front.

Vegetables And Water For Leona LewisVegetables And Water For Leona Lewis

Demi Moore is said to do the raw food diet which encourages the consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and seeds, and it has five different levels so dieters can select the one that’s right for them.

Angelina Jolie is linked to the three day fruit flush detox which is a three-day detox diet that was created by nutritionist Jay Robb. According to Robb, the specific combination of fruits and other natural foods in the diet naturally flush toxins out of the body because of their high water and fiber content. You will be hungry.

Angelina Jolie's Three Day Fruit FlushAngelina Jolie's Three Day Fruit Flush

If the main aim of a detox is to encourage you to eat a variety of healthy foods in balance  then they do work, but fad detox diets are just ridiculous and within days (definitely weeks) you are highly likely to be right back at square one again.

If you do want to detox here are some general rules:

- Reduce caffeine and alcohol intake a few days before you start.
- Buy a detox book or pick out some tasty recipes to cook so you don't get stuck for ideas.
- Go shopping in advance - with the right foods at hand you shouldn't go hungry.
- Tell all your friends and family what you are doing in advance. If they know how serious you are they are less likely to try and force feed you a pint/bar of chocolate/Sunday roast when you next see them.
- Clear the detox period in your diary of any pubs, clubs, restaurants and parties. See it as an opportunity to do all those things you never get round to, such as visiting museums and galleries - then you can feel doubly smug at the end when you're not only healthier, but more cultured too.
- Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
- Take milk thistle to optimise these benefits; it contains silymarin, which protects the liver from damage.
- If you are a heavy smoker or take drugs regularly, it will be a huge shock to the system to give up at the same time as detoxing. Take one step at a time - giving up your particular vice will be a detox in itself.

My DROP ZONE DIET is a great detox you can do, as it allows you to lose weight in a controlled manner and the foods are a compliment of the right carbs, fats and proteins.

You will feed your body whilst losing the weight and will therefore be less inclined to gain the weight back again. Now that’s what I call a detox.

Visit Jeannette's blog here.

Follow Jeannette on Twitter @jjnutrition

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