From Beyonce’s Lemon Detox Diet to Gweneth Paltrow’s  Dr. Alejandro Junger’s Clean program, it seems like detox is here to stay.

Chances are, you may have come across the $150+ monthly juice and detoxification plans promising health and vitality. You may be fascinated by results that one tiny $9.99 bottle of juice promises: weight loss, higher energy level, clear skin, six-pack, to name a few. You must wonder if you should get on the bandwagon and detox like stars do.

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Just before you starve yourself to start that new detox plan, you may want to read on for the low-down on detoxing.

We’re going to address:

  • Basics of detoxification and toxins
  • Pros: Why detoxing can supercharge your body with vitamins, slim your waistline, change your taste buds, and give you glowing and clear skin
  • Cons: Why detoxing can be a waste of money and can lead to muscle loss

Let’s start with the basics. What does detoxification actually mean?

According to Webster’s dictionary, detoxification means “to remove a harmful substance (as a poison or toxin) or the effect of such from.” In a nutshell, the philosophy behind most detox programs is that our bodies accumulate more toxins in the modern world than our body can handle. Examples of toxins include environmental pollutants, chemicals like pesticides, as well as ingredients from processed foods that you may unknowingly eat daily. Such toxins could build up in our elimination system and lead to cellular damage, allergic reactions, compromised immunity, and aging.

Detox remedies can potentially help our bodies remove toxins we accumulate at a faster rate, leading us to better health. There are hundreds of detox plans and juice cleanses available. And some water-fast for spiritual and/or health reasons. Please note that juice cleanses and water fasts are different: You can still drink juices during the cleanse, though you will be  drinking only water during water fasts. Some detox programs include solid food.

Here are some of the reasons why proponents swear by detoxing:

  • Easy absorption of vitamins: When you cook vegetables, you may denature enzymes that aid digestion. By juicing your vegetables and fruit, you may consume the enzymes in greater quantities than when eaten normally. If you don’t eat enough vegetables, juice cleanses maybe a great way for your body to absorb vitamins and nutrients, especially if you don’t like to eat vegetables. 
  • Temporary weight loss: Since you will barely be eating in most detox programs, you’re likely to restrict your calorie intake significantly and lose weight during a short period of time without intensive workouts.
  • Decreased appetite and change in taste buds: First off, when you resume eating solid foods again after detox, you may eat less given increased body awareness during the detox period, helping you listen to your body cues and maintain your weight in the long run. Secondly, if you’ve been eating junk food most of the time, you may have certain cravings and addictions which are not good for your body. By going on a cleanse and gradually changing your diet in one month, you may clean up your poor habits for good and learn to love different types of food that are healthier for your body.
  • Rehydrate our body: Many of you may not drink enough water, especially if you consume alcohol regularly. Fresh fruit and vegetables have high water content. By drinking vegetable juices and water, and restraining from eating food, you will rehydrate your body, eliminate waste faster, and have glowing skin.

Here are 7 reasons why opponents think detoxing may just be mumbo-jumbo:

  • Slow metabolism: Juicing can slow down your metabolism, the rate you “burn off” energy from the food you eat, because your body doesn’t need to work as hard to digest food. Your body will try to save energy for daily tasks given low caloric intake. Pro-longed fasts may decrease your metabolism permanently. 
  • Unsustainable Weight Loss: Weight loss from detox plans may not last after the detox period once you start to incorporate solid foods. If you resume eating the same diet before the detox, it is likely that you’d be back to square one – the original weight before you started the detox program. 
  • High costs: Many detox plans/juice cleanses can cost at least $100, some up to $700+, a month if not more. While it can be healthier and less costly financially to juice yourself, you may not have the time to juice.

The bottom line?

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These $200 three-day juice cleanses may be worthwhile, and going on a cleanse periodically may help you reset your system.

With the above being said, detox remedies are *not* magic pills. It maybe unrealistic to expect perfect health if you go back to the Standard American Diet after the cleanse.

For sustainable health, you may want to gradually eliminate processed foodseat lots of greens, and exercise regularly.

When you do go on a juice cleanse, I’d suggest starting off with shorter cleanses first and consult your trusted healthcare provider if you decide to go on pro-longed detox plans.

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And if you workout intensively on a regularly basis, you may want to ease up on your workout during the period. You may lack the energy provided by food sources to perform at your maximum intensity during the workout.

**If you’re not healthy in the first place, you may want to be vigilant when you go on a cleanse and consult with certified healthcare providers and professionals.

What is your personal experience with detox plans and juice cleanses? Leave a comment!

 Image source: Breville USA / Flickr