To detox or not to detox?

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By: Dr Tracey King

Ah, the new year. That all-promising time of hope and renewal, when we vow to change our wicked ways and embark upon a new regime of eating healthily, getting more sleep, drinking more water etc…and what better way to start than with a detox, right?

Detox programmes are not only hip, they are here to stay. With celebs near and far singing their praises, it’s hard not to buy into the hype. Hot on the heels of the internationally successful “lemon juice detox” popularized by Beyonce; the latest thing for those in the know are raw juice cleanses such as the Auckland-based PHD Cleanse (Pure Health Delivered). But do they really work?

The answer (as with most complex questions) is of course both Yes and No. Yes, by reducing your caloric intake and increasing the % of leafy veg, fruit and water, you will probably feel less bloated, lose some weight, have clearer skin and have more energy. No, the pre-packaged/commercially available versions are not your only option – you can achieve the same results yourself, if you are prepared to commit to the process. There is no doubting the fact that your liver and kidneys are designed to help cleanse your body of the toxins you ingest each day. Thus, you should be fine without a detox diet as long as you consistently eat a mostly plant-based diet with some lean proteins and healthy fats, drink enough water to have light or clear urine, exercise, and sleep well.

It’s for this reason that medical professionals and registered dieticians are united in their official position: they don’t work; they aren’t necessary. Yet detox diets continue to be popular. Why? In a word, convenience. The medics are right: you don’t have to buy into an expensive detox programme to improve your diet/increase your intake of fruit and veg – but it helps. The fact is, shopping for, preparing and cleaning up after all the produce and affiliated specialist ingredients that you need in order to replicate detox juice and/or soup products at home is a giant pain in the proverbial – take it from someone who once owned a juice and smoothie business, and therefore knows a thing or two about it!

So ‘to detox or not to detox’? It depends totally on the individual. Obviously in a perfect world you would already be eating nutrient-dense, high fibre, balanced diets and a detox would thus be unnecessary. But if like most of us, you find it difficult at times to maintain a healthy lifestyle and have neither the time nor inclination to swot up on recipes, shop for tons of produce, and let’s not forget the clean-up – up to six times a day – then I’d say why not give one a go? Might be a relatively easy way to kick-start yourself on the path to health and wellness…