Not all "detox" are good for you

Yahoo! Special Projects

By Maui Drilon for Yahoo! Southeast Asia

Did you know that, according to a study done by the journal Obesity, one in 20 women would rather lose a limb than be obese? In this body-conscious world where airbrushed models are considered the norm, this is no surprise. But while it may be tempting to engage in one of the many extreme detox diets, you should keep in mind that while it may seem that you’re losing weight, you’re actually doing more harm to your body than good.

Extreme detox or cleansing diets promise significant and dramatic weight loss within a short period of time. You’re asked to eliminate certain food groups in a detox diet, and stick to a strict food regimen that, most often, contain less than your recommended daily calorie intake. Such a diet will, naturally, cause you to lose weight, since weight loss happens when you eat fewer calories than what you have to burn. But most of the weight lost will most likely be gained back after your supposed “cleanse”.

Not only that, but when you drastically eliminate certain food groups from your diet, you’ll be depriving your body of much-needed proteins, fat, calcium, and carbohydrates. Studies have also shown that when you scrimp on calories, you stop producing a hormone called IGF1, which reduces thyroid and other hormones in your body, including insulin.

Implications on hair and skin

It’s a known fact that whatever you feed your body will affect your skin, hair, and even mood (which explains why a certain Dream Girls singer-actress claimed that the Master Cleanse made her successfully drop the pounds but in turn made her “evil”). So imagine if you suddenly switch to a drastic diet that consisted of only drinking liquids or of munching on grapefruit alone. You’ll be depriving your skin and hair of nutrients it needs to be in tip-top shape!

For example, going on a low-protein diet could leave you with dry, dull, and damaged hair. That’s because hair is made up of 97% protein! Depriving yourself of certain fruits and veggies (just because it’s not “in the handbook” of a certain detox ritual) could rob your body of antioxidants, which helps fight free radicals in the skin—the very same baddies that can cause premature aging.

“Detox” the “Right” Way

So should you just suffer lugging around those pesky five pounds that you just can’t seem to lose? Not really. You can still do a “detox diet”, but the key is to do it the right way by eating the right kinds of foods.

Our bodies are already equipped with organs that flush out toxins for us, whether we down “diet juices” or not. (They’re called our kidneys and liver.) The reason why people crave cleanses is because they feel they’ve been ingesting too many toxins and need to have them flushed out. So how about preventing having to do flushes by living and maintaining a healthy lifestyle in the first place?

It’s a fact that people eat too much food anyway—food that’s loaded with unnecessary sugar and saturated fats. Not to mention those who guzzle alcohol and smoke cigarettes on a daily basis. Cutting out such bad habits is a “cleanse” on its own, since you’ll be eliminating the cause of “toxins” in the body.

So what kinds of food should you be chowing down on? A healthy gauge is to follow the food pyramid, with its proper portioning of sugar, meat, veggies, and carbs. To keep your skin glowing and supple, stock-up on foods high in antioxidants, such as pecans, blueberries, and red beans. To avoid getting lifeless hair, ditch the greasy chicken wings for some baked salmon—its high levels of Omega-3 acids are great for strengthening and maintaining lustrous hair.

In short, a healthy diet is one that you stick with, not one that you just undergo for a few days, a week, or a month. That’s because a “diet” shouldn’t only be seen as a one-time “event”, but instead, as a lifestyle. Many people dread the word “diet” because to them, it involves depriving yourself of certain foods. You don’t have to eliminate chocolate or sweets from your life. You just have to learn to eat them in moderation.

Of course, some people might have special dietary needs—so if you’re really serious about “detoxifying” your lifestyle, don’t buy a book about the latest trendy detox diet in the bookstore. Instead, head to a nutritionist’s office for a consult.