Early January: the time of year when the gym is full and diet buzzwords are on the tip of everyone’s tongue. For years, “detox” has been included in that lexicon. But are detoxes and cleanses worth it, or beneficial to your health? As a tool for everyday weight-loss, detoxes aren’t highly recommended. James Dillard, MD, assistant clinical professor at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City, explained his stance to WebMD. ”There’s nothing wrong with going on a juice fast for a few days,” he says. “But it’s not a great way to lose weight, because you’ll gain it all back — you yo-yo. It’s just like the Atkins diet. The weight you lose is water weight.” Jackson Blatner, an American Dietetic Association spokesperson told Fitness Magazine that when used for a prolonged period of time, detoxes can lead to health complications. Particularly “for someone who has conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, digestive issues, or women who are pregnant.”
Blatner and Dillard do agree that detoxes can help a person’s perception about a new diet program or lifestyle change. “A healthy person following a short-term detox diet may get a bit of a mental jump start into eating healthier and exercising for the rest of the year,” Blatner said. ”People love the idea of cleansing, of purification rituals, going to the Ganges, to the spa. It has powerful psychological, religious, spiritual meaning,” Dillard stated. “That has its own positive effect on health.” The bottom line? Don’t look at detoxes as a magic bullet — but if you want a mental boost heading into a lifestyle change, a detox may be the answer. Whether you plan to eat them raw, or incorporate them into recipes, here are five detoxifiers and how they help.
1. Green vegetables
In advice that echoes what everyone heard growing up, Registered Dietitian Keri Glassman recommends a healthy dose of green vegetables for her clients who are starting a detox. Fresh green vegetables Glassman says, are “glutathione-essential for detox of liver pathway.” The best options are the crisp, crunchy variety, which will be high in insoluble fiber. Glassman specifically calls out broccoli, kale, and collards. In collards, for example, there are four glucosinolates that specifically assist the process of cleansing the body: glucoraphanin, sinigrin, gluconasturtiian, and glucotropaeolin. The glucosinolates are converted into an isothiocyanate, supporting anti-inflammatory, and detox systems in the body.