Detox Diets for Teens

Boy Eating Carrot Sticks
Boy eating carrot sticks. (Image: moodboard/moodboard/Getty Images)

Teens who want to lose weight may find themselves drawn to the quick results advertised by popular detox diets. However, TeensHealth.org warns that these diets are dangerous for adolescents who need optimal nutrition for growth and development. Teens considering detox diets should check with their doctors for advice on healthy weight management.

Purpose

People who advocate the use of detox diets suggest that the body holds on to toxic chemicals in the digestive and lymph systems and even in the skin and hair. Proponents contend that detox diets aid in eliminating toxins from the body, giving it a chance to heal and reducing symptoms such as fatigue, nausea and headaches. However, experts agree that the human body is designed to purify itself, and there's no scientific evidence that detox diets effectively help users drop pounds. In fact, a 2009 study published in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" discovered that even every-other-day fasting failed to help people who needed to lose just a few pounds.

Types

Detoxification diets popular with teens usually involve fasting, eliminating or drastically reducing calorie intake. Teens who try detox diets may skip meals for several days and then drink only juice or eat only fruit and raw vegetables as a way to reintroduce their bodies to food. For some teens, taking teas, herbs or supplements are part of the detox diet plan; for example, one popular detox diet called the Master Cleanse involves drinking a concoction of lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper. According to TeensHealth.org, detox diets often involve using enemas or colonic irrigation to wash out the colon and rectum. Most detox diets last a week to 10 days, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Side Effects

Adolescents need protein and adequate calories for growth and development; cutting calories and food groups through fasting compromises a teen's growth and ability to participate in school and activities. Teens can also find themselves addicted to the feeling that accompanies colonic irrigation or severe calorie restriction, which could lead to persistent eating disorders. Mayo Clinic reports that colonic irrigation and fasting carry a risk of dehydration, fatigue, dizziness and nausea.

Alternatives to Detox

Adolescents who want to improve their health and lose a few pounds can achieve their goals without dangerous fasting, according to TeensHealth.org. Choosing protein-rich foods such as lean meats, fish and poultry, calcium-rich foods such as low-fat milk and yogurt, and fiber-rich fruits and vegetables provides the body with the nutrients it needs to stay in optimal health.

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