4 myths about detox diets
With health and wellness becoming more of a priority, detox diets are gaining popularity. But what does a detox do? How does it affect your liver and other organs? We spoke with Accredited Practising Dietitian Shivaun Conn to get an expert’s view on detoxing.
What exactly is a detox? Shivaun says that it’s a buzzword, and adds that our bodies are pretty good at detoxing themselves. Both our livers and kidneys play key roles in flushing out toxins.
4 detoxing myths busted
Let’s bust the four most common myths about detoxing, according to Shivaun.
- You need to make your body detox
Your liver is designed to detox. So instead of trying to detox your body, look after your liver. In terms of foods green tea, grapes, fatty fish, nuts, olive oil, berries and turmeric are all thought to help your liver function at its best.
- Detoxing helps you lose weight
As with any fad diet, cutting out large amounts of a certain food type may cause a sudden drop in weight. But it’s very rarely sustainable. Often, people who try a detox diet get caught up in a yo-yo cycle. Constant fluctuations in weight can result in stress over the sudden weight gain and a sense of guilt.
- Detox diets don’t have any side effects
Going on a drastic detox diet certainly isn’t the healthiest way to live. Detox diets often involve a low calorie intake, which can cause low blood sugar, fatigue, muscle aches, light-headedness and nausea.
- Every detox diet is the same
Some people use the word ‘detox’ when they really mean ‘cleaning up their diet’. They focus on reducing junk foods, cutting out alcohol and reducing caffeine. These changes are more likely to have a positive impact on your energy level, help you maintain a healthy weight and improve your overall health than any drastic detox diet.
What a detox may be good for is kickstarting a healthier lifestyle. “Sometimes people will start those diets and then actually establish healthier habits because they're having more water, fruits and vegetables. It will kickstart them to not having as much alcohol too,” says Shivaun. But it’s a short-term change that comes with an element of risk.
Shivaun’s key message is that there are better, safer ways to adopt a healthier lifestyle.
Simple ways to improve your health
Whether your goal is to lose weight, build muscle or have more energy, here are some ways to safely change your eating habits:
- Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables.
- Choose whole foods over highly processed or refined foods.
- Reduce your intake of added sugar.
- Drink plenty of water – around two litres a day.
- Reduce or eliminate soft drinks, fruit juices and other sweet beverages.
- Stop smoking.
- Reduce or cease your alcohol consumption.
Consuming healthier alternatives increases your energy, improves sleep and boosts your self worth. Rather than beating yourself up over one too many slices of cake, you’ll feel confident in your healthy choices.
Knowing you’re nourishing your body from the inside out also helps to motivate you far more than numbers on a scale would.
“Consider your overall diet, and make any changes that might improve your energy or make you feel a bit healthier,” advises Shivaun.
So is there any such thing as a good, natural detox for your body?
Shivaun believes there is not. She says detoxing through diet changes is never natural. It’s also unnecessary. Instead, choose to improve your body’s health with a balanced diet and an active lifestyle.
- How to change your relationship with healthy food
- How to create habits you can actually stick to (for good this time)
Shivaun Conn is an Accredited Practising Dietitian, Accredited Nutritionist and Certified Health Coach with particular interests in nutrition, lifestyle, executive health and health behaviour change.
Reviewed by the healthylife Advisory Board June 2021