It seems everywhere you turn these days, there's a new detox diet popping up. From the Master Cleanse, and acai berry diets, to diets featuring raw foods, rice, grapes and water, there seems to be an extreme diet for every food.
The questions are... do these diets work and are they a healthy way to achieve long term weight loss, health and fitness? This article will seek to answer those questions, give you the pros and cons of detox diets and provide you with the information you need to make an educated - and healthy - decision about detox diets.
The Pro's of Detox Diet Programs
Though doctors and practitioners of Western medicine are unified in their denunciation of detox diets, alternative medicine practitioners and successful detox dieters tout their virtues. Many people have successfully lost weight by following detox diets, most famous of these in recent times is Beyonce, who used the Master Cleanse diet to lose 10 pounds in preparation for her role in Dreamgirls.
This diet, created by the late alternative medicine practioner, Stanley Burroughs was first released in book form in the fifties under the title The Master Cleanser and to this day is still a popular seller on Amazon.com.
Though these diets seem to produce the desired weight loss results, there's no evidence to suggest that it's because of the detox diet regimine or simply because the dieters stopped consuming the higher volumes of sugars and high calorie, processed foods that had been a part of their previous daily diets.
The Con's of Detox Diets
While detox diets definitely have their loyal followers, there are some downsides and even dangers to following these diet plans. In fact, Master Cleanse detox diet success story, Beyonce, advised people NOT to follow the Master Cleanse plan, even though she used it to lose a lot of weight in a short period of time.
Here's a brief list of some of the drawbacks commonly associated with detox diet plans:
Weird Side Effects
As you may imagine, people on extreme diets such as these often experience some strange and intense side effects. Headaches are probably the most common as the body may be craving stimulants such as sugar or caffeine that it's currently not getting on the diet.
Other conditions include a white film on the tongue, bad breath, dizziness, fainting spells, and in some cases, intense diarrhea, which can lead to debilitating dehydration.
Harmful Side Effects
The greatest danger from many detox diets is damage to the body, which is a result of deprivation of certain nutrients and the over-indulgence in others.
For example, a woman in England was awarded 800,000 GBP (almost 1.2 million dollars) for brain damage that she suffered as the result of following water detox diet, which required her to drink large amounts of water while restricting her salt intake. The over-consumption of water combined with the deprivation of salt caused her to suffer a seizure, which led to memory loss and other neurological problems.
She won the money from her nutritionist, who advised the woman to continue the diet even though she started vomitting. The nutritionist assured her that it was all part of the detoxification process.
As seen in the example above, many alternative medicine practitioners and nutritionists lack proper medical training and, therefore, don't have this ability to advise you on what diets you should avoid or can even recognize the danger signs when they appear.
Even the Stanley Burroughs, the Master Cleanse Diet, creator was tried for murder when he treated a man suffering from cancer with a combination of the Master Cleanse Diet and deep tissue massage. The man later died as a result from a hemmorhage caused by the massage.
The disclaimer on every diet or exercise commercial that you see on TV always advises you to consult a physician before you start any sort of diet or weightloss program and this seems to be sage advice, indeed.
Insufficient Medical Evidence to Back the Diet Claims
Doctors seem to be in a agreement on the ability of the body's natural ability to rid itself of toxins and suggest that these diets aren't based on any sound medical evidence. As we stated earlier, many detox diet plan followers lose weight, but is it because of the plan, or just because they stopped eating so poorly?
One of the latest detox diet trends involve the many programs based around the acai berry, the fruit found in the South American rain forests. Take a look at any acai berry diet pill website, and you'll be sure to see quotes from Oprah and Dr. Oz about its properties as a super food. While they may be a very beneficial part of a healthy diet, even Dr Oz himself downplays the berries' weight loss claims. (See our article The Truth About Acai Berry Diet Programs for the full story.)
Short Lived Results
In our 21st century lives, convenience is a prime factor in the success of a diet program. No matter how disciplined, a strict detox diet plan is virtually impossible to follow for an extended period of time and the average dieter will revert back to his or her normal ways.
Unfortunately, this exploration into popular detox diet programs seems to confirm what we already know:
There's no magic pill or quick fix for weight loss. Eating healthier foods that contain all the nutrients, proteins, vitamins and minerals that our bodies need, ingesting fewer calories, and combining it all with a good exercise program to burn calories and strenghen the body and cardiovascular system is still the best approach to take.
While changing eating habits is not easy, there are some effective, convenient diet programs out there that can help you eat better, feel better, and achieve all your weight loss goals. See our article New Year's Resolution Diet Tips for advice on how to choose the diet that's best for you.