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Toxin Cleansing Diet

author image Karen Eisenbraun
Karen Eisenbraun has a Bachelor of Arts in English from Knox College and has been writing professionally since 2004. She is the content director for several health-related websites and a certified holistic nutrition consultant.
Toxin Cleansing Diet
A pot of steamed or boiled artichokes with lemons. Photo Credit: m-imagephotography/iStock/Getty Images

Some medical professionals believe that undergoing periodic toxin cleansing diets can help improve general health and alleviate health problems such as chronic fatigue, muscle aches, sinus congestion, digestive problems, stubborn weight, headaches and skin conditions. However, some popular toxin cleansing diets have been criticized for not providing enough nutrients. If you are considering adopting a short-term dietary cleanse, talk to your doctor before making any potentially harmful changes to your diet.

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Causes of Toxicity

Advocates of detoxification diets maintain that the body is constantly exposed to toxins that accumulate over time. According to the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, toxins may result from dietary anti-nutrients such as caffeine, alcohol and processed food; medications; environmental pollutants such as pesticides and cleaning products; allergens; and infectious organisms such as bacteria and parasites. Toxicity may also have emotional roots, such as stress, isolation or a lack of purpose in life.

Detox Duration

Toxin cleansing diets may range in duration from a few days to several weeks. The University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health advises following a seven-day program of nutrition, gentle exercise, herbal treatments and body work, such as massage and detoxifying baths. Dr. Alejandro Junger, author of "Clean: The Revolutionary Program to Restore the Body's Natural Ability to Heal Itself," recommends a three-week dietary detox focusing on whole foods, proper hydration and adequate rest.

Foods to Eat

Recommended foods for a toxin cleansing diet include plenty of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables, including spinach, onions, garlic, cabbage, broccoli, artichokes, asparagus, avocados, bok choy, peas, berries, melon, apples, pineapple, mango and pears. The University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health also recommends preparing your kitchen with staples such as olive oil, tea, cayenne powder, dried fruits, nuts, fresh greens and 100 percent fruit and vegetable juice.

Foods to Avoid

Toxin cleansing diets commonly prohibit any processed foods, caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, sugar and chocolate. Junger recommends avoiding common allergens such as eggs, wheat, dairy, peanuts, soy and nightshade vegetables, which include tomatoes, eggplant and bell peppers. Some programs also recommend eliminating meat, although Junger allows chicken, turkey, cold water fish and lamb, preferably organic.


Some medical professionals doubt the validity of toxin cleansing diets. According to Roger Clemens, adjunct professor of pharmacology and pharmaceutical sciences at the University of Southern California School of Pharmacy, there is no scientific data that detox diets improve overall health. When considering a detox diet, be careful of programs that lack sufficient nutrients. Talk to your doctor before taking herbal supplements, as herbal remedies can have side effects or interfere with some medications.

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