Cleanses and Detox Diets Print

Spring Clean Your Body?

By Andrea Holwegner, Health Stand Nutrition Consulting Inc.

Cleansing and Detox Diets – Are They Necessary??

Almost 90% of Canadian adults identify nutrition as an important factor when choosing the foods they eat and 80% consider that food and proper nutrition play a major role in the maintenance and improvement of their health. 1

There is a growing interest in the area of detoxification (detox) and cleansing diets. The term “detox ” is applied to a range of eating plans, from two-day juice fasts and short spans of consuming only vegetables and water to radical regimes that include colonic irrigations (a procedure similar to an enema). These eating plans claim to help clear toxins from the body, liver and intestines (claimed to originate from pollution and junk food). To date, these diets or regimes are not regulated in Canada.

What Does the Evidence Tell us?

There is no scientific data that supports the claims made by detox and cleansing diets. Proven scientifically, humans are fully equipped with the best detoxification system. The human body draws nutrients for the foods that we eat, and excretes wastes not needed. Organs work together in waste removal: the liver removes waste from the bloodstream and prepares it to be sent to the kidneys for disposal of the urine. The large intestine does not need internal cleansing since it works to reabsorb much needed water and minerals as the wastes passes.

PROS: Many of these detox programs encourage eating lots of fruits and vegetables, which are high in water and fiber and may help move things smoothly through the gastrointestinal tract, and this tends to make people feel better. Taking a temporary break from caffeine, alcohol and refined sugars-as is prescribed by most of these plans-may not only eliminate energy crashes sometimes associated with these ingredients but also could help people realize just how much “junk” they normally consume. In this way, detox periods may inspire longer-term healthy changes.

CONS: Colonic irrigations done improperly can seriously injure the large intestine and create an imbalance for the friendly or good bacteria found in the gut. Other “safer” plans (those that promote eating only select, nutritious foods) may cause fatigue or dizziness if they don’t supply adequate calories. If severe calorie restriction is sustained for more than a few days, the body may sense impending starvation and release stress hormones that cause fat stores to break down rapidly-a response that, ironically, may increase circulating toxins. Finally, the enhanced energy that detox dieters often report may be the result of surging stress hormones too. (Evolutionarily, it makes sense: a “fight or flight” response drives hungry animals to seek out food aggressively.) An adrenaline-charged drive is short-lived, and with prolonged calorie restriction, the body powers down to conserve energy, ultimately slowing the metabolism.

THE BOTTOM LINE: If you’re a healthy adult, living on vegetables and water for a few days isn’t likely to do you harm—or much good. If you operate on the mode of ‘live today, detox tomorrow’ you are fooling yourself. Optimizing your body’s natural detoxification systems is best achieved by consistently practicing healthy behaviors: consuming nutrient-rich foods, drinking plenty of fluids, getting adequate sleep and exercising regularly.

1. Dietitians of Canada. Current Issues- The Inside Story. Detox And Cleansing Diets – Fact or Fiction? January 2007

About Andrea Holwegner

CEO, Registered Dietitian, Counseling Practice Director & Professional Speaker

Andrea the «Chocoholic Nutritionist» is founder and CEO of Health Stand Nutrition Consulting Inc. since 2000. She is an online nutrition course creator, professional speaker and regular guest in the media. Andrea is the recipient of an award by the Dietitians of Canada: The Speaking of Food & Healthy Living Award for Excellence in Consumer Education....Read more

Success stories

"I am a psychologist in private practice and it is very important to me that my clients have the best care with other health care professionals. For that reason Health Stand Nutrition is my only source for exceptional Dietitians. Andrea and her team provide highly knowledgeable, compassionate, and real world support to my clients who require assistance with food lifestyle. I trust my clients to them and you would be in excellent hands making them part of your health care team."
Adele Fox, Psychologist
“This is the first time I feel satisfied; my cravings have diminished dramatically and I have a whole new relationship with food. I am eating guilt-free for the first time in my life. My energy has also dramatically increased and I feel great!
Rhonda Jenkins, Nutrition Counseling Client
“The Dieticians at Health Stand Nutrition help you to take action on the science behind eating well by making it practical, understandable, and fun. Their office is cozy and not at all clinical or intimidating. I felt like I was sitting down with a really smart, caring friend who wanted to help me make the best choices for my lifestyle and food preferences. Andrea and her team really are the best in the business.”
Marty Avery, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I have come to think of the program as a one stop shopping excursion for everything one needs to know about creating a joyous relationship with food and our bodies. In a single word, the course has gifted me with freedom from the punishing rigidity of disordered eating, old stories that never were true, and body dysmorphia that did nothing but make me lose sight of a body that has done everything I've asked, despite my careless dismissal of her needs. Now when I look in the mirror I find myself shifting from harsh criticism to gentle gratitude.”
Lynn Haley, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“I spent 3 hours when first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I learned more from my Dietitian about food in those 3 hours than I had learned in all the years of my life. I also love the newsletter, there is always something to learn.”
Peter Whitehead, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I didn’t realize how strong my “diet mentality” was, and all the rules I had in my head about food. I was in a cycle of reward/punish/binge/cringe. I booked with your business very reluctantly, on the repeated advice of my doctor, to get my slowly rising cholesterol levels in check. I thought I knew everything about food, and my behaviour with food, but I was definitely re-schooled. My weight is creeping down, I feel good about my diet, exercise, body image, and lifestyle.”
Amy Floyd, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Thanks Andrea for an amazing presentation, I have heard all positive remarks from attendees and the evaluations show the same sentiment. It is really gratifying when a speaker does their “homework” and weaves in our profession’s day to day challenges within their content, you did an awesome job of this! You truly took the “die” out of Dietician! Your information on healthy eating and simplifying how we can work towards this as we are all so busy really hit the mark. Andrea connects very well with her audience; she is energetic, funny, and very approachable.”
Carole Ann LaGrange, Transfusion Medicine Safety Officer

Event Planner for Laboratory Diagnostic Imaging Annual Event

I am a family physician who sees patients with a myriad of eating concerns – from wanting to know how to plan healthy meals for active families, to weight loss, to eating disorders, and so on. I cannot recommend the Health Stand team highly enough. I have worked with (and been to!) other Dieticians in the past and too often find that they just ask for food logs and make suggestions that are easily obtained online or in books. The Dieticians at Health Stand offer much more than just telling clients what they “should be eating.” In contrast, the team really does more of a counselling practice, and they work hard to help their clients learn more about why their eating habits may be off track and not optimal for them, as well as helping people to effect change at a deep level that, most importantly, is sustainable for lifetime health.”
Dr. Deb Putnam, Family Physician

Nutrition Counseling Client & Referring Physician

“I am a busy mom, with kids in high level sports, working full-time downtown, and running our home acreage outside the City. I now have the knowledge and tools I need to plan for and manage the chaos of meal planning.”
Gillian Gray, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“As a construction company, we select speakers who can relate to our industry and its employees. Andrea’s message was delivered with humor and empathy. She makes people feel as though they can make changes without leaving behind every favorite food. Andrea focused her presentation on healthy eating as a way to keep energy high throughout the day. This message and the way it was delivered resonated with our predominantly male, blue collar culture. I would highly recommend Andrea as a speaker for groups such as ours. She will get your message across without alienating anyone in your audience – which is a huge hurdle when trying to introduce a wellness program in the workplace!”
Stephanie Wood, HR and Safety Manager

Fisher Construction Group, Burlington, WA

I found my Dietitian warm, funny, and skilled at teaching nutrition concepts without the overwhelm. The general approach of each session was to mix science with emotion, which was exceedingly effective in helping me shift my perspective on food from one of anxiety to one of joy and curiosity.”
Erin Kronstedt, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Excellent presentation! What a refreshing change to have a speaker inspire rather than “lecture” about nutrition. Your captivating stories, tips and overall approach to healthy eating uplifts and puts people at ease. It was great to hear we don’t need to strive to be perfect eaters, and that small changes really can make a difference in how we feel and in our health. Thanks to Andrea, we have solutions to our everyday nutrition challenges that can actually work in real life!”
Tina Tamagi, Human Resources

ARC Resources Ltd.

“Had I not joined this course I would have struggled with no focus, low energy, and mindless eating. Andrea is an excellent teacher and motivator. This is not just a course, it is a nutrition club with mentorship, support, and connections with other people with similar situations.”
Lorri Lawrence, Pursuit of Healthiness online course participant

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