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Considering a detox diet - don't bother - Ogden Clinic provided source, Standard-Examiner 12/03/2013

(Standard-Examiner) OGDEN - Want to remove harmful toxins from your body and even shed unwanted weight?

Some people will tell you to go on a detox diet, or a cleanse, to flush those poisons from your body and help shed excess pounds, but before you follow what many of today's celebrities are doing, you might want to hear what the nutrition experts are saying.

"In general, when people say that they're going on a detox or a cleanse, they're referring to an extreme, typically short-term diet that purportedly eliminates toxins from the body," said Rochelle Creager, Weber-Morgan Health Department certified health education specialist. "Followers claim that the diets make them feel more energetic, make their skin glow and can jumpstart weight loss."

But Creager and Ogden Clinic registered dietician Rina Jordan say there's no scientific evidence that detox diets are necessary, nor do they offer any benefits.

“While there may be little harm in a healthy person following a detox diet for one to two days, there is no scientific evidence that detox diets offer any benefit,” said Jordan.

“Where these types of diets can cause harm is if they are prolonged. A detox diet can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances, and certainly over several days, calorie and protein deprivation could ensue.”

Do bodies need cleaning?

There are several detox diets out there, Creager said. One of the most popular is The Master Cleanse, which basically involves consuming nothing but water flavored with lemon, maple syrup and cayenne pepper for several days, possibly even weeks. In fact, Beyonce Knowles claims she lost 20 pounds on the diet.

Other detox diets involve colon cleansing, either through colonics or enemas in conjunction with the dietary modifications, Creager said.

While there are a lot of pictures regarding black slime inside the colon wall climbing with toxins, Jordan and Creager said there is no scientific evidence to substantiate the pictures are real.

“Our kidneys and liver are tasked with filtering and breaking down toxins,” Jordan said. “These toxins may be ingested, such as drugs or alcohol, or are byproducts of metabolism, such as ammonia from protein digestion. Our natural detoxification takes place continuously, 24 hours per day. No self-imposed detox diet can come close to the efficacy of the kidneys and liver.”

Creager agrees.

“Our bodies are not dirty. They do a really wonderful job of eliminating waste on their own,” she said. “We have to remember that many of these diets are profiting off their program and just like any other product, they create a need and then sell the solution. People don’t become worried about toxins until they’re told they should eliminate them.”

Quest for quick results

But many people want quick results, and others are too trusting of those telling them they need to detox, Creager said.

“Even Dr. Oz has his own cleanse program,” she said. “People see him promoting his program, a program that he profits from, and (think) that since he’s a doctor, cleanses must be OK.”

But doctors aren’t dieticians, Creager said, and they don’t have the same education that a dietitian has to be able to design a safe, healthy dietary intervention. She also said while some people may claim they feel great after a cleanse, it still isn’t scientific proof they work, but instead could be a placebo effect.

“Most importantly, though, the diet industry is a $20 billion industry and that’s just in the U.S. alone,” Creager said. “One juice cleanse program, the BluePrint Program, charges $75 a day.”

The detox diets can also cause weight loss in the short term, especially if all you’re drinking is lemon water with maple syrup or pre-portioned juices, Creager and Jordan said. However, a lot of that weight is water, not fat, and without a good source of calories coming in, your body will start to burn muscle for energy.

“So some of that weight loss is actually muscle mass, but they don’t lead to long-term weight loss,” Creager said. “They aren’t doing a thing to change the habits that got them in the position to need to lose weight in the first place. So once the cleanse is done, they’ll go right back to the same old habits.”

Also, Creager said, very low calorie diets can cause your body to go into starvation mode, so when you start eating normally again, your body will hoard them, leading to rebound weight gain.

The downside to detox

While a few days on a detox diet isn’t going to cause much harm, Jordan said in the long run, a person will start to see side effects, such as low energy, headaches, irritability, muscle pain and an imbalance in electrolytes, such as potassium, sodium and blood sugar. These imbalances can be especially dangerous in people with pre-existing conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.

“Some of the signs of electrolyte imbalance can include feeling thirsty, weakness, dizziness, nausea, muscle cramps, fatigue, fainting and, in severe circumstances, low blood pressure, stiff joints and slow heart rate,” Jordan said.

So instead of doing a detox cleanse, Creager and Jordan suggest good old-fashioned healthy eating.

“I think the most important thing for people to understand is that no matter how tempting a fad diet sounds, no matter how promising, how easy or how glamorous it seems, no fad diet can replace good old-fashioned healthy eating,” Creager said. “People should also think critically before buying into any kind of weight loss program. Your health is more important than their profit.”

If you would like a list of area dieticians and healthy eating resources, go to¬_resource_guide.pdf.