Detox diets do have their appeal. The idea of cleansing your system and ridding your body of toxins, pollutants, and sludge is often what draws people to these plans. However, what many people don’t realize is that the body has its own built-in “detox” machine in the form of our internal organs. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t be around for too long. Our lungs, liver, kidneys, intestines, and immune system are highly efficient at ridding the body of harmful things, whether they be chemicals, fatty foods, or bacteria. Granted, sometimes our detox machines are overwhelmed by harmful substances, but for the most part, we all have a system in place to stay relatively healthy.
Stefani Sassos, MS, RD, a registered dietitian within the Good Housekeeping Institute, explains that excessive sugar can spike your blood sugar levels... and then turn into a sudden drop off afterwards. This is why you may feel super fatigued in the moment, or push through a huge mood swing, in any given afternoon. Over the long run, however, eating too much sugar can greatly influence your risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes, chronic dietary inflammation, and severe fatigue, among other physical risks. "There's a ripple effect on your body, as it can get accustomed to lots of sugar," she adds, citing habits like a daily office donut or sugary sweet coffee drink. "Over time, it becomes this difficult thing to decipher: Am I addicted to this, did I train my body to crave this food?"
Diabetes Management has become yet more important in the current situation (read: ongoing Coronavirus pandemic). As per fitness and nutrition expert, Rohit Shelatkar, "the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has suggested that people with type-2 diabetes are at higher risk of severe troubles from COVID-19 infection." While proper medication is a must to manage diabetes, one must also look into a healthy diet to boost healthy living naturally. "There's a strong link between diabetes, inflammation and immune system. Hence, one must opt for healthy diet options to control blood sugar and strengthen immunity," Shelatkar further stated.
According to information from the Mayo Clinic, diabetes is a disease which occurs when the body is no longer able to properly regulate its blood glucose (sugar) levels. Treatment for diabetes involves both prescription medication and regulation of dietary intake to keep blood sugar levels naturally low. While it can be difficult to reconcile the recommendations of diabetic dieting with those of many detox plans, there are nevertheless some plans which purport to achieve detoxification effects without compromising the principles of a diabetic diet.
Ensure you are eating your micronutrients: Counteract too much sugar by supercharging your next meal for your liver's benefit; namely with dark, leafy green vegetables that are high in a suite of micronutrients. "Try to eat foods to help assist the liver in natural detoxification, which is much healthier than doing something compensatory like sweat out the donuts you just ate… that isn't helpful, and may be harmful, in the long run," Sassos adds.
Frontload your meals with protein and fiber: This is crucial if you've managed to eat or drink too much sugar early in the day. Protein and fiber, when paired with a carbohydrate of choice, can stabilize your blood sugar and help you avoid that dreaded crash. Be sure to choose snacks and meals that are high in fiber and protein naturally: hard-boiled eggs, for one, or even a small omelette; a handful of nuts at your desk; an apple with peanut butter, or even some crudité and hummus.
It’s important to get support to help manage stress during your detox. Make an appointment with a health coach or a functional health practitioner to make sure you get the support you need. Or, grab a buddy who can do the detox with you. You can also join my Sugar Free Challenge that I host every month. It’s free to join and you will find tons of support and resources there.
Understand the general principles of diabetic dieting to better determine what requirements a detox plan must satisfy before being sound for diabetics. According to the Mayo Clinic, diabetics regulate their blood sugar levels through diet by controlling both the quantity and type of carbohydrate consumed, with slower digesting carbohydrates being preferable as they impact blood sugar levels less significantly. These slow-digesting carbs consist mainly of fruits and vegetables, making these staple items in any diabetic diet.
In this case, “detox” doesn’t mean checking into a rehab facility to wean yourself off alcohol. What “detox” refers to, in the dieting world at least, is a dietary detoxification plan. This is a temporary dieting plan (as are most diets) that involves following a regimen (usually pretty extreme) in order to cleanse your body of “toxic” substances such as pesticides, chemicals, additives, pollutants…or food that just isn’t very good for you. Sometimes people “detox” in order to clear their minds, sharpen their focus, or lose weight quickly.
A sugar detox may help you bring your sugar consumption into moderation, away from the levels that average Americans consume in any given day. While Sassos notes that the American Heart Association recommends less than 25g (about six teaspoons) of sugar daily for women, and 36 grams (about nine teaspoons) for men, the organization notes that the average American consumes 77g; an immediate block on all sources of added sugar would be hard to sustain for most anyone, Sassos points out. You'll need to work on reducing your intake slowly,targeting packaged foods that can be swapped with better-for-you alternatives.
As with most detoxes, it gets worse before it gets better. I had intense gluten withdrawal, which caused headaches, irritability, and the craziest cravings I had ever experienced. I felt like I would die (or someone in my immediate vicinity might) if I didn’t immediately eat a pizza-pasta-bread sandwich. Thankfully, it passed in a couple of days, and the other side saw a lifting of “brain fog” that I didn’t even know I had. So much energy! Such clarity! It felt pretty great.