A detox diet, or detox cleanse, promises to help you lose weight quickly, remove so-called toxins from your body and boost your metabolism. But don’t be deceived – like any other quick fix, detox diets don’t work. In fact, they can be dangerous to your health. Here are some of the dangers associated with detox diets:
- Vitamin deficiency. Restricting your food consumption limits your intake of essential vitamins and nutrients needed for good health, which can cause unhealthy side effects such as headaches, dizziness and low energy.
- Anemia. Detox diets often result in iron deficiency and can lead to anemia, a deficiency of red blood cells or hemoglobin in the blood, due to limiting iron rich foods such as lean red meat.
- Muscle loss. Restrictive diets eventually put your body in starvation mode. When that happens, your body will preserve fat cells and start taking energy (calories) from your lean muscle tissue in order to function.
- Heart palpitations. Crash diets often cause an irregular heartbeat due to a dangerous electrolyte imbalance. Electrolyte imbalances can lead to a disturbance in heart rhythm called arrhythmia. Heart palpitations are a symptom of an arrhythmia.
- Abdominal and digestive pain. Liquid diets that don’t factor in enough zinc, protein, vitamin A and vitamin B will often result in diarrhea, dehydration, abdominal swelling and pain. These particular nutrients help coat your intestinal lining to make bowel movements smooth and comfortable.
- Weakened immune system. As your body grows accustomed to a lack of vitamin and calories, it will naturally shut down certain systems – including the immune system – leaving you exposed to bacteria and viruses, infections and illnesses. Strengthen your immune system.
Before beginning any weight loss program – diet or exercise – talk to your doctor. Your doctor can explain the benefits and risks involved and work with you to establish safe weight loss goals. A registered dietitian can also help you evaluate your good and bad eating habits and give you tips for creating new ones along with developing a diet that will work for you in a healthy way. Learn more about healthy eating.