Detox diets: 5 things you shouldn’t do

A detox diet tends to be short-term (no more than 21 days, usually) and is done to rid your body of toxins. Most people eat a “Standard American Diet” (aka SAD) that can negatively impact their liver, kidneys, colon, and intestines. Toxins from food and environment get stored in fat cells, and can make you sick and unhealthy. There are several ways to do a detox diet, but not all of them are optimal for health. Some are downright dangerous. Here’s a list of five things you shouldn’t do on a detox diet.

Beverage-based calories

There are many detox diet plans that have you drink only certain things during the duration of the diet. One example is the “The Lemonade Diet” where you are to only drink a mixture of lemonade, water, cayenne pepper, and maple syrup. You don’t eat anything for the duration of the cleanse; you only drink eight to 10 glasses of the “lemonade” each day. This is unsafe for several reasons: first, your caloric intake is very low, which can be hard on your body; and second, eating no solids for the duration can be stressful to your gastrointestinal tract.

There are also diets that have you drink only fruit and vegetable smoothies or juice for the duration. While slightly better than The Lemonade Diet (because at least you’re getting more vitamins and some fiber), these diets tend to be low-calorie as well, and can cause dizziness and headaches.

Hypo-Caloric diets

Any eating plan/detox diet/cleanse that requires you to keep your food intake to below 1000 calories per day is not recommended. It can cause hormonal disruption, headaches, weakness, and other physical symptoms. Additionally, you’re more likely to binge and gain back all the weight (and more) you may have lost during the detox once you return to your former eating habits.

Restrictive food items

You know those diets where you can eat only bananas and drink green tea? Or how about the one where you eat cabbage soup all day every day and then are only allowed other certain foods during the duration of the diet? These diets, ones that eliminate one or more food group, or tell you that you can only eat certain foods during the course of the detox are not only unsustainable, but they can be dangerous too.

Restricting several food groups from your diet for prolonged periods can cause vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Additionally, most of these diets tend to be hypo-caloric, so you’re not eating enough food during the detox to actually power your body and activity levels. Again, you are at risk from suffering from fatigue, hormone disruption, weakness, and headaches.

Laxatives and colonics

Some detox diets come with the recommendation to use laxatives on a daily basis in order to flush toxins out of the intestinal tract. Unfortunately, regular laxative use can result in decreased bowel function and dependency.

Colonics, otherwise known as colonic irrigation’s or colonic hydrotherapy, touts the ability to remove stored food waste and toxins from your colon. These really aren’t safe, because there is a chance that the practitioner may damage your colon wall during the process. Furthermore, the irrigation may flush good bacteria from your colon and lower intestinal tract. This good bacterium is essential for good health, protection from disease, and the digestive process. Over-use of colonics could also damage the lining of your colon.

Artificial diet foods and supplements

Any diet that suggests you buy a lot of different supplements or other diet foods (think weight-loss “shakes”) will likely make you lose more money than toxins from your body. Artificial, highly-processed diet foods have just as many chemicals and nasty by-products as the Standard American Diet – the only thing they may have going for them is convenience. These items tend to be expensive, and aren’t real food. On the same topic, any diet that requires you to take vitamins, minerals, and other supplements all day long is simply not sustainable.


Your best bet for gently detoxifying your body is to make simple changes with a detox diet plan and your lifestyle. Try to drink more water and less soda, coffee, and caffeinated tea. Eat fewer processed foods, and more raw, locally-grown organic fruits and vegetables. If you’re a carnivore, choose meat from animals that were raised traditionally, on pasture, and without the use of hormones, antibiotics, and other drugs.

Get more exercise – even walking will do. If you do these things, you’ll notice you’re leaner, feel better, and will be much healthier for it.

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