I’m pretty sure everyone in North America has either followed a detox diet or knows someone who has. It sounds like a great idea. After all, who wants to have nasty toxins built up in their body?
I’ve seen programs and related products linked to everything from anti-aging, weight-loss promotion, improved sexual function, and enhanced athletic performance. Pass the grapefruit juice – all these sound great!
There’s only one problem: there’s no reputable research showing that any of these diets or programs do what they claim. There’s also the fact that healthy bodies are very adept at eliminating “toxic” waste material on its own. There seems to be far more marketing behind detoxing than there is science.
One clue to uncovering the lack of scientific veracity behind such programs is to ask: Which specific toxins are supposed to be eliminated? Spoiler alert: whoever is pushing the detox program (whether it’s someone who stands to benefit financially or a misguided individual who genuinely wants to help you be healthier) won’t be able to answer this question. That's a tell-tale sign that what they are pushing is nonsense.
Before you decide that a detox diet opens the door to fast food, ice cream, and soft drinks, keep in mind there are many great reasons other than detoxing to minimize processed foods and base your diet on whole, natural foods.
Perhaps the biggest, especially if you want to perform better athletically, is improved insulin sensitivity. This is actually related to slowing aging, promoting weight loss, improving sexual function, and boosting athletic performance. The cool thing is that according to research, consistent training and smart eating are the best things we can do to naturally improve blood sugar management.
So, if you’re reading this, you are likely already making a positive effect. I wrote a brief piece about improving blood sugar management a while back that can be found here.
There are some unique and effective dietary strategies, such as intermittent fasting (of which I’m a big fan), that are unfortunately degraded due to detoxing's limelight. I’ll discuss some alternatives that I’ve found to be effective, and how you can use them to your benefit in the future.