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Aveen Bannon

Detox diets – Fact or Foe?

New years resolutions promise a host of possibilities; gym memberships, healthier living, and then, of course, the quick fix solutions like the detox diets!… They may seem like the perfect solution as they promise to lose 6kg in 2 weeks and decrease stress and tiredness levels as we succumb to the January blues. But don’t be fooled…  often these extreme diets will only mean a quick fix result and are not a long-term solution.

Before we start lets state some facts…The body has its own amazing detoxification systems: the liver and the kidneys. These organs work by filtering the blood and removing bad toxins from our body naturally so it is never necessary to embark on a detox diet.

Always think twice before embarking on overly strict diet routines that encourage you to cut out entire food groups out of your diet. Often these diets are fat-free, wheat free, sugar-free, dairy-free, alcohol-free and caffeine free. The problem with these strict regimens is that they are unrealistic, imbalanced and make us feel like all of these foods are bad for us…

Take caffeine as an example…many of us enjoy our morning cup of coffee and there’s nothing wrong with that. An Americano is calorie-free and provides an average of 100mg of caffeine per cup. The ‘lethal dose’ of caffeine is estimated to be around 10,000mg, which is equivalent to about 50-100 cups of coffee. So there’s nothing wrong with having 2-3 cups per day. Often we are led to believe that coffee is dehydrating but recent evidence suggests that caffeine-containing drinks are not as dehydrating as was previously thought.

Avoiding dairy is another common recommendation with detox diets which is of great concern. Some may need to avoid dairy for digestive reasons and can seek their calcium from plant alternatives. Dairy is the main source of dietary calcium in the Irish diet and is imperative for bone health. The bone is live tissue and we lose calcium every day so we need to replace calcium daily. Milk on cereal, a yoghurt or a latte can all count towards our daily calcium requirements.

Avoiding carbohydrates can lead to eating less insoluble fibre foods like whole grain cereals and high fibre bread which are important for bowel health. This can lead to problems with constipation and tiredness as you are taking out many carbohydrate-rich foods which are important for providing us with energy.

As there are so many conflicting health messages out there when it comes to New Year dieting, it is difficult for people to know what to do. The best way to approach the New Year is to make long-term changes…chose a high fibre breakfast, drink more water, including more fruit and vegetables in your diet and look at your portion sizes. Not only will you feel a million times better, but you will have a balanced diet and see lasting results instead of a temporary fix.

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