Welcome to the Ask a Dietitian column!

Over the course of the school year, our Registered Dietitians and dietetic interns get some deep questions regarding nutrition and food from students like you. We’ve noticed a trend in what people are interested in knowing more about, so we thought we’d post our answers for everyone to enjoy!

This month, we discuss detoxing. Detoxing is when people refrain from eating or drinking things they believe to be toxic or just downright unhealthy, and it’s incredibly common! Popular North American celebrities such as Salma Hayek and Beyoncé advertise these diets and cleanses on social media, often crediting these practices with their weight loss and glowing skin. Sounds legit! Or is it?

Can detoxing really be capable of making such big changes? Is it even safe? Take a look at what our dietitian has to say on the subject and let us know what you think in the comments!

One student asks…

Dear Dietitian,

I have been hearing that we need to do some detoxifying treatments such as detox water from time to time to cleanse our bodies and make our skin look healthy. Is it true? If yes, which one would you recommend?

Thank you for your question!

Detox and cleansing treatments are not actually necessary. There is very little research-based evidence to show that these diets are capable of eliminating toxins from the body or having any effect on your skin. In fact, your liver, intestine, lungs and kidneys are generally quite effective at filtering and eliminating most ingested toxins in healthy individuals already, so you don’t need to worry about drinking certain detox juices to help them – they’re doing fine on their own!

Detox diets do, however, usually entail the elimination of processed foods, which is why many people who have tried them speak of feeling focused, energetic, and alert. This is not because they’re “detoxifying” their organs, though – it’s just because they’re making healthier food choices and dropping the less favourable ones!

If you would still like to try a detox or cleanse, speak to a medical doctor or Registered Dietitian (RD) beforehand. Consider the possible side effects detox diets and cleanses can have on your body. These include:

  • fatigue
  • vitamin and mineral deficiencies
  • low blood sugar
  • low or high blood pressure
  • dehydration
  • cramping, bloating, nausea, or vomiting

These unpleasant symptoms are commonly experienced because detoxes often include dramatically decreasing your food intake and/or supplementing with untested substances. Take care of your body and gather all the facts before deciding to embark on a detox journey.

Remember: if you have some of your own questions to ask us, we’d love to hear from you! Email us at AskaDietitian@carleton.ca or visit https://dining.carleton.ca/nutrition/ask-a-dietitian/ and fill out the form at the bottom of the page.

Friday, February 2, 2018 in ,
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