Healthy Living Blog

Weight Loss Detox

Weight loss detox plans and cleanses are popular – but what are they, and should you be on one?

Our bodies have many of their own natural detoxification systems in place to break down and get rid of a wide range of harmful compounds. While the kidneys can filter out many small molecules and salts, the liver is the main organ that detoxifies many larger molecules, including metabolic by-products and chemicals in the food we eat.

Some tiny particles like mercury and lead cannot be broken down and are not always filtered out by our bodies, which are big reasons why they are so dangerous to consume, even in small amounts.

Side Effects & Unknown Risks

Most detox and cleanse plans offer some combination of fasting, juicing, or restricting certain types of foods, sometimes coupled with supplements or laxatives. Since most of these things involve reducing how much people eat, many of them can be effective for losing weight. However, they have not been shown to be healthier than other diets, nor have they demonstrated an ability to clear more toxins from people’s systems, improve immunity, or offer any other such advantage.

Some plans may have side effects, and any that sell supplements, juices, or other products are guaranteed to reduce the balance of your bank account.

Work with Your Body, Not Against It

The best diet for detoxing is simply one that helps our natural detoxification systems work as best as they can. Consuming fewer toxins certainly helps, but that is only part of the story.

Today, it’s easy to find many convenient foods that stress out our internal organs over time, such as added sugars that can contribute to fatty livers, or saturated fats that inflame the linings of our blood vessels. Decreasing the amount of heavily processed and refined foods in our diets is a sure way to reduce internal metabolic stress.

Some ways of eating can contribute to opposite, restorative effects, such as helping the body to clear plaques from vessels, respond effectively to insulin, and clear fat out of the liver.

A Simple Answer

Most of the proven health benefits come from long-term dietary patterns, as opposed to short-term diet plans. What’s the biggest commonality between different ways of eating that all show restorative health effects? The simple answer is more whole plant foods.

Detox plans and cleanses may help, but only in so far as they include more whole veggies, nuts, fruits, beans, and other whole plant foods. Fruits and vegetables in their processed forms, like juices and supplements, don’t have much evidence behind them. This is probably because some of the helpful compounds in whole fresh plants get eliminated through juicing and other processing methods.

“Phytonutrients” is a catchall term for the things in plants, aside from vitamins, minerals, fiber, and common nutrients that help our bodies to function best. A few phytonutrients have demonstrated potential for fighting cancer, reducing the stiffness of blood vessels, lowering inflammatory cholesterol, and other beneficial things, but science is probably just starting to uncover how phytonutrients help us.

Many of these compounds act as antioxidants as well, which may improve health by aiding the body’s natural detoxification systems.

Good Foods That Are Good for You

Some foods that can be included in almost any healthy eating plan are nuts, dark leafy greens, garlic, turmeric, cruciferous veggies, berries, beets, tofu, and green tea. Almost all whole plant foods have benefits for promoting healthy weight and a healthy body, though, so you don’t need to focus on just these.

At Structure House, we offer a meal plan that includes all major food groups, gives people options, and still provides huge health benefits and weight loss potential through a diet rich in phytonutrients, antioxidants, and all the other things bodies need

About Benjamin White, PHD, MPH, RD, LDN, Nutrition Director

In addition to nutrition, Dr. White has a background in public health and scientific research. Ben is excited about translating research into practical knowledge that people can use to improve their overall health. He teaches a variety of classes, ranging from online nutrition resources to meal planning to controlling  your  food environment. He oversees the nutritional components of the program to ensure that participants are equipped with the necessary skills, resources, support, and knowledge to succeed after leaving Structure House. Restaurant outings, individual nutrition counseling, and workshops are also key parts of the program overseen by the nutrition team. The chefs and dietitians at Structure House work in tandem to provide participants with a menu that is appealing, balanced, satisfying and healthy.

Ben earned his Master’s degree in Public Health Nutrition from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has experience in weight loss counseling, motivational interviewing, diabetes management, vegetarian diets, teaching, and scientific research. Dr. White joined Structure House in 2016 as a Registered Dietitian.

View all posts by Benjamin White, PHD, MPH, RD, LDN

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