Health Risks of a 3 Day Detox Diet

3 Day Detox Diets are currently marketed by supplement companies, diet-related publications and non-business related sources. Various diets created for body cleansing and detoxification have been used for centuries by many cultures. The purpose behind current detox diets in the US is to rid the body of toxins that have accumulated in the body’s cells, tissues and systems from environmental, dietary and lifestyle sources. These toxins are from pollution, pesticides, herbicides, synthetic chemicals, and additives such as caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol, and supposedly cause conditions such as obesity, tiredness, depression and other common illnesses.

A detox diet usually consists of fresh fruits and vegetables in limited quantities, water, juice, broth, and a natural herbal concoction or supplement to aid elimination of toxins by the body through rapid fluid loss and colon cleansing.

Toxins and the Body

Scientific evidence does not support the idea that the body is not able to eliminate toxins. In fact, several systems are in place for cleansing of the body by the kidneys, liver, colon, urinary and lymphatic systems. However, diet and lifestyle choices that are particularly toxic can lead to serious health consequences, and it is always recommended to take this into consideration when making choices about diet, lifestyle and exposure to unhealthy environmental conditions.

Dangers of Detox Diets

3 day detox diets are a shock to the body for almost all people, and claim that the side effects experienced are simply the “flushing of toxins from the system.” These side effects include:

  • nausea
  • headaches
  • diarrhea
  • fatigue
  • dizziness
  • irritability

They also contribute to many more serious, but less common, side effects usually experienced only by individuals with other contraindicated health conditions. The medical community, however, points to the rapid fluid loss, muscle mass loss, and lack of vital nutrients (that are a result of such restrictive regimens) as the true source for these uncomfortable side effects. It is also speculated that these diets temporarily slow the metabolism as the body prepares for a period of starvation.

A detox diet is especially dangerous for the chronic dieter who may be lured into the detox arena by promises of quick weight loss. Unfortunately, because the weight lost is mostly fluid and muscle weight, the dieter regains that weight as soon as the detox is over, and in many cases, gains additional weight. This is because of both the slower metabolism that resulted from the starvation of the body and the likely gorging the dieter will do after the detox is over (in an effort to recover from the psychological and physical deprivation undergone during the diet).

Alternatives for Detoxification

There are many safe ways to cleanse the body and prepare for a healthy lifestyle. Drinking at least 2 liters of water per day is recommended to aid the body’s natural detoxification processes, and the inclusion of a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables will help to cleanse the digestive track (as well as provide vital nutrients and minerals to the body). Vigorous exercise and heat rituals, such as steam and sauna, are detoxifying, but care must be taken with individuals who have contraindications such as high blood pressure or rapid heart rate. Finally, a trip to the spa for a cleansing marine mud body wrap or seaweed treatment may be a perfect beginning to a healthy lifestyle.

Restrictive, dangerous detox diets work best when avoided!


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