A detox diet refers to helping the body remove a variety of environmental toxins, such as caffeine, salt, sugar, processed foods and alcohol.

While supporters of this diet believe it can prevent weight gain and ill health, the detox diet has been criticised for a number of reasons.

These include people getting food cravings due to the diet’s restrictions, risks being attached to some supplements advised as part of the diet and that it can be expensive.

What is a detox diet?

People can expect to lose weight quickly on a detox diet due to the limited food choices that are allowed. It is a short-term diet which can vary in length from a few days to a few weeks.

The healthy eating principles of the detox diet can be beneficial as no whole food groups are cut out, putting the focus on eating more healthily.

Additional supplements may be included as part of a detox diet, but you should check with your doctor if you take certain medication which could be affected by supplements.

Moreover, anyone looking to start a detox diet should consult their doctor beforehand as it can reduce one’s intake of specific nutrients.

What can I eat?

Lots of fruit and vegetables are recommended on a detox diet, as well as dairy substitutes and non-gluten grains.

However, dairy products are excluded, while only certain animal proteins, nuts, seeds and oils are allowed.

Why has the detox diet faced criticism?

There is a lack of scientific evidence to support the efficacy of a detox diet. While reducing intake of certain toxins is useful, it is not a substitute for otherwise eating healthily and regularly exercising.

While people can lose weight through a detox, most of this is through water and waste products. This is not sustainable in the long-term, as drastic fluid losses can cause dehydration and headaches.

Other drawbacks of a detox diet include:

  • People find they gain weight upon eating calories again
  • It can lead to nutritional deficiencies
  • People can feel lethargic and dizzy during the diet
  • Food cravings can be intense
  • Those advised supplements and herbs can find these expensive

What are the benefits of a detox diet?

Replacing processed foods with fresh meals prepared at home is certainly beneficial, as is eating more fruit and vegetables.

Eating fish, lean meats and whole-grains can also make you feel revitalised if you have recently been feeling unwell.

The detox diet and diabetes

Great caution should be taken by people with diabetes who are looking to adopt a detox diet. You will need to consult with your doctor to assess if this is the right decision and if another diet may be more beneficial.

People face altering their carbohydrate intake on a detox diet, which could present an increased risk of hypoglycemia for people on insulin, sulfonylureas or glinides. Speak with your doctor as to how to minimise the risk of hypoglycemia before starting the diet.