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What’s The Real Deal With Detox Dieting? A Health Counselor Weighs In To Debunk False Myths

Everybody’s heard about the many benefits that going on a detox diet can bring people. However, the concept of detoxing itself has also gotten a bad rap due to the many misconceptions that have been spread about the practice. But certain health experts see detoxification as a healing process people should know more about to benefit from it.

What Detoxification Is

Detox diets typically begin with a fasting period followed by a time of eating a strict diet of healthy food.

As women’s functional medicine health counselor Sally F. St. John explains, detoxification diets food as a form of medicine in addressing issues like hormone imbalances, inflammation, and even food addictions. It also functions as an aid to liver function and the body’s natural detoxification processes.

Detoxification methods include a variety of familiar practices like restrictive eating, fasting and juicing. Many religions around the world actually use these methods in observance of certain celebrations. For example, Muslims fast as part of the five pillars of their faith while Catholics fast as penance during the 40 days of the Lenten season.

A Brief History

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Green juice is one of the most popular items consumed during a detox diet.

In the medical community, detox diets have been used since the 1940s when Dr. Ann Wigamore, a proponent of eating raw foods, promoted juicing as an effective way to eliminate toxins from the body and as another way to treat cancer.

This is a contrast to the traditional view of medicine to detoxification as just the understanding of how the body metabolizes and then eventually eliminates drugs.

The effect of nutrients found in food on the natural detoxification process of the body would only be focused on in the 1980s when Dr. Jeffery Bland began studying it.

More than a decade later, he was able to co-publish a peer-reviewed journal article detailing the effectivity of a controlled diet and supplements in mitigating chronic symptoms. Since then, the literature on the topic has continued to grow. For example, Deanna Minich, Ph. D, the author of ‘Whole Detox‘, has published research advancing the use of nutritional detoxification in medicine.

Common Detox Practices

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Caffeine is one of the unhealthful substances people are not supposed to consume when detoxing.

The basic detox diet encourages one to refrain from eating or drinking food items with alcohol, environmental toxins, unhealthy fats, and sugar for the span of at least 10 days up to 21 days. Instead of these, people on the diet should consume things that have high amounts of phytonutrients, proteins, and fats. The guidelines don’t specify a certain caloric limit.

The ketogenic diet is also another form of detoxification. It requires people to eat a diet that is low on carbs while being high on fats to encourage ketosis, which helps in the growth of new neuronal pathways.

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