Starting a detox (detoxification) diet at the beginning of a New Year is just as much of a tradition as toasting to the New Year itself! Detox diets are common, but do detox diets really work?

The short answer – no, but there can be some point to performing a detox diet.

There is little evidence that detox diets actually eliminate toxins from your body. Believe it or not, there really is no need to start a detox diet to eliminate “toxins” from your body, because your body’s organs (liver and kidneys) already do a good job of doing this. Your body has a natural “self-cleaning” mode that is ongoing no matter what you do.

Now the real issue is how much self-cleaning are you making your body do? 

If you are eating too much processed and unhealthy foods, your body must work overtime to keep cells and organs functioning properly. If you eat healthy, there is no mess to clean up.

Now, as far as detox diets are concerned, you really can’t eat a diet that will help speed up this cleaning process. You help your body’s natural detoxification process take place better and quicker when no more junk food or beverages are ingested.

Whether detox diets work also really depends on what is being done during a detox diet. Some detox diets are quite extreme and involve long periods of fasting. Others only allow the consumption of one or two food products, such as lemon and honey, for example.

Don’t fall for the hype. Extreme measures should not be taken when undergoing a detox diet. Fasting for too long or only limiting yourself to one type of food may actually cause body stress and malnutrition, which defeats the purpose of a detox diet. Instead, choosing to eat Mediterranean diet foods and refuse to eat processed junk foods is more appropriate. In this case, you will benefit from both your body’s natural detoxification processes while supplementing your body with healthy nutrients, antioxidants and necessary fiber and water for optimal health.

Long-term fasting or other extreme detox diets not only cause vitamin and mineral deficiencies, but many also report regaining the weight back as they fall back into bad habits. Therefore, choosing to start a new habit to eat healthy is far more appropriate and will result in longer lasting, healthy change.

If you are considering a detox diet this year, don’t take the extreme route. Simply choose to eat healthy Mediterranean diet foods that include: fish, fruits, vegetables, legumes, complex carbohydrates and olive oils. Not only will you lose weight eating healthier, you will also feel better and have more energy. More importantly, you must also try to avoid falling back into bad habits so there will be no need for a detox diet next year!