What to Know Before Starting a Detox Diet

By Cathy Wong, About.com Guide, Updated February 28, 2010

Designed to promote whole-body health, a detox diet is a short-term program that helps eliminate environmental and dietary toxins from your system. Although there are many different types of detox diets, most focus on decreasing your intake of potentially harmful chemicals and increasing foods that aid the body in cleansing. By clearing toxins from your body, you may raise your energy levels, stimulate your digestive health, and improve your concentration. Considering the touted benefits, it's easy to see why a detox diet might be appealing to some -- but there are important things to consider before jumping in.

Is a Detox Diet Right for You?

If you're considering a detox diet, it's important to consult with your doctor prior to starting. People with certain health conditions (such as anemia, diabetes, and kidney disease) should either avoid this diet or perform detox only under the supervision of a health care provider. The detox diet is also unsafe for pregnant or nursing women.

How to Prepare for a Detox Diet

Before you begin your detox diet, you need to get your body ready for optimal cleansing. Here's how:

1) Give Your Diet a Mini-Makeover

Some foods can interfere with the liver's ability to detoxify your body, which could impair your detox efforts. For the week leading up to your detox diet, try to avoid sugar, artificial sweeteners (such as aspartame), trans fats, refined carbohydrates (such as white rice and white pasta), gluten, processed soy foods, and alcohol.

You may also want to take this time to rid your kitchen of any foods or beverages that might tempt you during your detox diet.

2) Prevent Caffeine Withdrawal

If you drink caffeinated beverages on a regular basis, you may experience caffeine withdrawal at the start of your detox diet. To prevent headache, fatigue, and other withdrawal symptoms, gradually decrease your caffeine intake (by switching from coffee to lower-caffeine green tea, for instance) at least a week starting your diet.

3) Drink More Water

Your body needs plenty of water to flush out toxins during your diet. Drinking lots of water keeps you hydrated and may help flush out toxins, so make sure to drink at least eight eight-ounce glasses of filtered water daily.

4) Stock up on Tools for Detox Success

Some practices may help promote cleansing throughout your detox diet. Exfoliating your skin with a dry brush, for instance, may help support circulation and prompt the passage of toxins from your lymph.

To enhance relaxation as you detox, consider buying some essential oils to add to your bathwater or use for massage. Incredibly calming, lavender oil may be especially helpful for those suffering from caffeine-withdrawal-related headaches.

Article courtesy of about.com/alternativemedicine.

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