Carb detox diets either limit or entirely eliminate carbohydrate-containing foods such as bread, rice, pasta, fruits and vegetables, in favor of fats and protein. While low-carb diets like the Atkins plan are intended for weight loss, detox diets promise to give the body a rest from the hard work of digestion and restore equilibrium to your system.
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Detox diet advocates believe that the body is under constant attack from environmental toxins such as preservatives, dyes, artificial sweeteners and flavorings, alcohol and sugar. Detoxes afford the body the opportunity to cleanse itself of these pollutants to restore its natural equilibrium. While proponents of carb detox diets are correct in stating that Americans do consume too many highly processed foods, they are wrong in believing the body is unable to handle the challenge.
The human body already has an elaborate system in place for eliminating harmful toxins. Your liver, kidneys and gastrointestinal tract are all designed to prevent dangerous substances from damaging your tissues while promoting the absorption of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. There is no evidence to suggest that this system needs any additional assistance, and in fact, eliminating carbohydrates from your diet may do more harm than good.
Carbohydrates are your body's main energy supply. When you consume a carbohydrate, your body converts the food into sugar. As your blood sugar rises, so does the level of a hormone called insulin. Insulin promotes the uptake of sugar into cells, where it is used for energy. While highly processed and refined carbohydrates are obviously unhealthy, others are essential for good health. In addition to being the main energy supplier, carbohydrates such as whole grains, fruit and vegetables are an important source of vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients.
Instead of going on a total carb detox, evaluate your current diet. Are you consuming large quantities of sugary beverages and treats? Do you choose whole-grain bread or white flour pastries? Rather than eliminate carbohydrates from your diet entirely, choose your carbs wisely. Make whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables and beans the staples of your diet and reserve cakes, cookies, refined flour breads, sugary sodas and fruit juice for an occasional treat. Consult your physician or nutritionist before making any dramatic changes to your diet.
- MayoClinic.com; Low-Carb Diet; May 2010
- Reuters; Are High-Protein Diets Bad for Your Colon?; Amy Norton; March 16, 2011
- SAObserver; Can You Put the Blame on Carbs?; Sarena Caner; March 22, 2011
- MayoClinic.com; Detox Diets: Do They Work?; Katherine Zeratsky; April 2010
- Harvard School of Public Health: Carbohydrates