Detox Diets and Mental Health
There are different types of detoxification diets, most based on eating organic whole foods as opposed to processed foods. These diets tend to minimize or eliminate meats while maximizing fruits and vegetables. Detoxification diets always involve drinking lots if clean water.
The intent of a detoxification diet is to support internal processes by increasing elimination from the body, cleansing the colon, enhancing circulation, eliminating foods that are allergenic, and providing nutrients to support and protect the liver, the main organ involved in detoxification.
Approaches to Detox Diet
There are several approaches to a detoxification diet. Proponents of vegetarianism say that a strong immune system founded on a plant-based diet is the best defense against environmental toxins.
Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practitioners believe that specific foods, like radishes, turnips, soybeans, Swiss chard, and vinegar, can actually counteract or neutralize toxins. Moreover, some branches of TCM hold that certain foods should be avoided, such as nightshades, turkey, and pork.
Because specific diets, such as the Feingold diet and the hypoallergenic diet, restrict the intake of most of these foods as well as food additives, they are considered a type of detoxification diet. These types of diets have been instrumental in the scientific community in proving that removal of allergens can attenuate mental health problems.
Both the Feingold and the hypoallergenic diet, are low-allergen, additive-free diets based on whole foods. Clinical research has associated these diets with a positive outcome in the treatment of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), autism, and schizophrenia.
Some health practitioners test for specific conditions before placing patients on a detox diet. One of these tests is for hypochlorhydria, also known as low stomach acid, which can be involved in indigestion, food sensitivities, nutritional deficiency, bacterial overgrowth, and yeast infections.
Another common test prior to detoxification is for adrenal fatigue, which can occur from prolonged stress and exhaustion. These tests are only performed when there are symptoms indicating they’re needed.
Highly restrictive detox diets over prolonged lengths of time can create safety issues. If done improperly or for too long, these diets may result in nutrient deficiencies. Of particular concern is lack of protein, which may result in wasting of muscle tissue due to insufficient amino acids needed for repair. Other diets, such as a whole foods diet resembling the Feingold diet, have proven safe for long term use. Evaluation and supervision is important when undertaking any type of detoxification diet or making other dietary changes.