Detox diet: do or don't?

News items about the health effects of many popular foods inspire us to think in new ways about what we eat, what we shouldn't eat, and what it's doing to our body. If you've been trying to put down the bag of Doritos, large Frappuccino, or box of Oreos and commit to eating better, you probably have considered detoxing.

Detoxing is popular, but it may not be for everyone. Here we discuss detox diets and whether they're right for you.

What is a detox diet?

Detoxing is said to boost your body's nutritional intake and shed toxins such as processed food chemicals and environmental pollutants. This process typically involves eating specific foods, avoiding toxic substances, drinking plenty of water and clear fluids, and getting enough rest. You can also include light-to-moderate exercises in your routine.

Who shouldn't detox?

You should avoid detoxing, or talk to your doctor or dietitian first, if you:

  • are under 18 or over 65
  • are pregnant or lactating
  • have a gastrointestinal disorder such as Crohn's disease or gastritis
  • have diabetes
  • have an eating disorder
  • are training for an endurance event
  • have any other serious health condition not listed here

Who should detox?

If you want to make some positive changes in your diet, detoxing may serve as your springboard to a more permanent healthy diet. After completing your detox, you might find it easier to incorporate some or all healthy elements of your detox diet into your regular diet. However, these positive changes can be done without a potentially dangerous detox. You should always weigh the benefits and risks when it comes to making decisions about your health.

The takeaway

There isn't any convincing medical evidence that self-administered detox diets actually remove toxic substances from your body or improve your health. A short-term detox will not magically solve all your health issues. In general, eating better is your body's ticket to improving your energy, preventing long-term health problems, and achieving a general sense of wellness.

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