Although it sounds rather attractive to ‘cleanse’ the body after a period of over-indulging, our bodies are actually cleansing our systems all the time. They’re designed to be ‘self-cleaning’, like a really good oven. The liver, kidneys, skin, intestines and lungs are our body’s detoxifiers, and are constantly working to process and excrete things such as; alcohol, medications, the products of metabolism and digestion, dead cells, bacteria and pollutants from our environment. It’s what they do, and usually they do a pretty good job.
There is currently no scientific evidence which suggests that a ‘detox’ will help rid the body of toxins faster. If you’ve been abusing your body a bit (or a lot), then you’re probably going to feel pretty great if you cut the nasties out of your diet. But if you’re a normal, healthy eater, all a detox will do is unnecessarily deprive you of foods you probably enjoy. Reliance on one food has no scientific basis. All foods are part of a food group because within that group, they do a similar job. Each group has its own role, so dependence on one particular food group, or omitting a whole group, like carbohydrates, is not a positive approach.
Some detox diets are just a healthy diet wrapped in pretty detox ‘packaging’. On these diets, you feel better and lose weight because you’re making better food choices and probably eating less. The lemon detox diet, unfortunately, does not fall into this category.
The lemon detox diet involves eating nothing and using a drink made with lemon juice, cayenne pepper and a ‘special’ syrup, as well as drinking a laxative tea. On the lemon detox diet (and some juice fasts) you consume less than 1700kJ a day (average recommended intake for a moderately active, medium weight woman is around 8700kJ) – so it’s basically just a fasting diet. The packaging recommends you follow the diet for 7 days, or ‘even better’ 10-14 days. Common side effects of the diet include lethargy and tiredness, headaches, bad breath and constipation. Huh? Those are the same side effects common in anorexia. Funny that…
If you’re after a ‘kick start’ before (or after) a holiday or event, then I’d suggest reducing your intake of caffeine, alcohol, salt and processed foods over about a week, and increasing your intake of fruit, veggies, and water. Maintain a healthy intake of protein, carbohydrate and (good) fats, and after about a week or so you’ll start to notice your skin is clearing up, your eyes are brighter and you feel less bloated. Stick with it long enough and you may even notice a few kg’s disappear.