Greek Easter holidays are over and after the short, and partly forced by damage of my computer, absence from the internet, I get myself back in program. During the period that follows the Easter holidays we are deluged with articles on weight loss and detoxifying our body. Is it the extra pounds accumulated during the winter, is it the extra food intake of the holidays, is it the summer which is approaching; we all read these articles hoping to find a magic trick to eliminate all these. But, does it exist?
The truth is that I always watched all these “extreme” methods of losing pounds and detoxifiyng with hesitation. Since the issue of detoxification is specialized I asked the Dietician-Nutritionist Stavroula Kriki to talk about this, and I thank her very much! Stavroula is, also, the author of two blogs where you can read interesting articles and recipes for a balanced nutrition: Just Nutrition and Stavroula Kriki Healthy Cooking.
“Green juice for breakfast, water with mint for brunch, orange juice for lunch and a thick tomato juice, accompanied by raw broccoli for dinner. This is a diet plan that many people follow at times and usually after an overeating feast. Why? Because detox diets have become the new fashion trend in the field of health food.
I would say that there are two kinds of detoxification. One is tested and the other is not. In the second case the word has been abused by quacks, charlatans and “specialists” without the appropriate degrees. Their purpose? Promote unfounded diet programs, false theories in lengthy books, and products that claim to detoxify the body from toxins that are supposedly accumulated.
On the other hand, a tested detoxification would be one which expels alcohol and drugs from the human body, especially if there is an issue of addiction. Detoxification from calories has no logic. And the truth is that I was surprised that a people on whom the Mediterranean diet is based, might be a victim of the detoxification theory. Close your eyes and bring to mind the Mediterranean diet. A table covered with checkered tablecloth and on top of it lean meats, fish, olive oil, cheeses, dairy products, salads, fruits, whole grains and nuts. All these foods provide us with protein, amino acids, unsaturated fats, fiber, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals that allow the body to function properly.
Such a healthy organism is detoxified by the kidney, liver, skin and lung functions. Even now, while you are reading this text, the body detoxifies. There is no other known way that one could apply to make a healthy body work even better. However, if indeed toxins were accumulated in our body to such extent where they could not be expelled as they should, then the human might be led to death or he would need immediate medical intervention.
Detoxification diets, however, are advertised as the body’s toxin removal methods, following a fasting period (no food intake) and then a strict diet of raw fruits and vegetables. The theory is that these diets eliminate toxins from the body, cleanse the colon, enhance liver function and lead to weight loss. But there is not enough research to support this theory. Few clinical studies have been conducted targeting a small sample and being full of incorrect methodologies. (Detox diets for toxin elimination and weight loss management: a critical review of evidence; Klein, Kiat; J Hum Nutr Diet; 2014 Dec 18).
Some people, however, have said they feel more focused and energetic after detoxification periods. But this could be attributed to various reasons, such as high consumption of water required, and the lack of “empty” carbohydrates which tend to make people feel more tired (e.g. sweets and sugar). Likely, weight loss may be attributed to the reduction of calories (the deprivation as a matter of fact). But, this weight loss, if any, returns with a restoration to a normal regime. And let’s not forget that there are risks associated with detoxification, such as hypoglycemia, cardiac arrhythmia, muscle loss and burden on the kidneys. These risks are related to the duration and severity of detoxification.
But the allegations around detoxification are little more unfounded (and ridiculous) as the industry expands. After all it is an industry trying to sell solutions to consumers. The last ad I saw was for detoxifying flanges patches; worn at night and promise to pull all the toxins from the body throughout the feet. In the morning the patches have become brown. But the color is just a chemical reaction with the sweat from the feet. It is a hoax and an abuse of naive consumers. And the truth is that all these products reveal something about human nature. Everyone will like a simple solution that would free us from our sins. We could eat recklessly and with a couple of tricks we would reverse it. No pain, no diet, no exercise. It’s nice to think that something like this may exist, but unfortunately it does not. The absolute “detoxification” is no smoking, practicing sports, sleep sufficient hours and follow a balanced diet, such as the Mediterranean diet.
In short, the human body is amazing. It has ways to deal with toxins without having to deprive important proteins and complex carbohydrates. There is therefore no reason to overload the body with green, magical vegetables and forget the rest of the food pyramid.”
Nutritionist – Dietician