alcohol is also a major factor, and drinking more water (which helps curb appetite) is similarly recommended.
Various methods of modifying the diet for the said purpose of detoxification include:
- Fasting, including water fasting and juice fasting.
- Increased consumption of fish such as salmon
- Food combining.
- Caloric restriction.
- Herbal detox (if one considers herbs food and not a form of drug).
Some proponents of detox diets would emphasize it as a lifestyle, rather than a diet. It has made some appearances in the media, such as the film Super-Size Me. Literary references include "Ultimate Lifetime Diet" by Gary Null advocating veganism as a (lifestyle) method of detoxification.
If there is a rapid shift in diet that results in toxin release into the bloodstream faster than the body can eliminate it (such as burning fat that stores toxins), the body can become polluted in what is called the Herxheimer reaction.
Critics point out that the human liver, kidneys, lungs and skin have evolved to adequately expel environmental contaminants and are perfectly equipped to continue to do so unassisted. It has been posited that some fruits and vegetables may actually contain more natural toxins than animal substances such as meat, fish, and milk. Some critics site the high mercury content in some fish as a risk factor. Additionally, sudden changes in diet have been linked to fainting and other medical issues.
Body fat stores the toxins the body is unable to eliminate; if low blood sugar levels force the body to begin rapidly metabolising large amounts of fat, then these toxins will be released into the bloodstream. Symptoms often mentioned are headaches, sore muscles, feelings of weakness, inability to sleep soundly, and cranky moods. These side effects are not normally denied, but are seen as a temporary discomfort well worth the cost of the health benefits detox diets are said to cause.
Detox diets may not be the safest form of weight loss if they are one of the restrictive ones (such as water fasting) that may result in nutrient deficiencies. The lack of proteins in most detox diets (due to omitting animal products and legumes) often results in diminishing muscle mass due to insufficient amino acids for repair. With less lean muscle tissue, the body's metabolic needs decrease, which hampers weight loss efforts unless calories are lessened further in the diet.
While many people have provided testimonials to their health improvements in following a detox diet lifestyle, some of these people may have started the detox diet after coming off an unhealthy diet high in sugar and processed food that may lack nutrients. Any improvements cited from such people would only prove the effectiveness of a detox diet over an average diet, and not that it is the ideal diet that doesn't carry its own unique health risks.