Overly aggressive detoxing — such as extreme juicing, cleansing, etc — is not a sustainably healthy way to approach nutrition. However, there is one thing you can detox from immediately that could make a huge difference this summer: sugar.
Most of the detox fads that are floating around the mainstream right now are unsustainable. Juice cleanses, prolonged fasting, and similar programs can leave you feeling nauseous, fatigued, and dangerously unwell. This idea of a detox plays into our mistaken, pseudo-scientific believes about diet and nutrition, and may hurt a lot more than it helps.
However, there are some things that you can safely quit cold-turkey and see an almost immediate benefit. This summer, consider trying a sugar detox by completely eliminating added sugars from your diet. Something you might be shocked to learn is that sugar is added into a wide variety of the foods we eat every day — it’s not only Twinkies and gummy bears that are loaded up with sugar. In a related CNN article, a nutritionist reminds us that sugar is often added to items like salad dressing: an ingredient that you probably thought was helping you make a healthy choice when you consumed it.
So, why is sugar so bad? You could actually make the case that sugar is quite poisonous to your health. It’s linked to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and accelerated aging. It’s potentially arguable that added sugar is one of the most unhealthy dietary ingredients out there.
One of the most insidious aspects of sugar is its addictive quality. For people who swill down several cans of soda per day, who keep reaching into that candy jar, or who can’t say no to dessert, detoxing from sugar can have some serious physical and psychological hurdles. Robert Lustig, a professor at UC San Francisco, estimates that about 10% of the American population has a legitimate sugar addiction.
So, how should you approach a sugar detox if you want to try it? Take the first three days of your detox and eliminate all sugar — not just added sugar. This includes even healthy sources of sugar such as fruits and starches. Depending on your level of dependence on sugar, this might feel like an impossible task. However, if you stick with it, by the fourth day you can re-introduce foods like corn, sweet potatoes, apples, and the like. By then, your palette will have adjusted, and those foods will start to taste tremendously sweet and better than ever!
Over time, you can train yourself to only incorporate sugars that come from natural food sources such as these. Although you might be tempted from time to time to have a gummy bear, a sugar detox means that your waistline, metabolism, and appearance will thank you… and a lot sooner than you think!