Detoxing on a Paleo Diet: Yay or Nay?

Doing a detox? Fair enough.


Whether you’ve been on a weekend bender in Vegas for your best friend’s bachelorette party or are simply trying to ‘jumpstart’ a weight loss regime, creating a clean slate and starting over in terms of what you’re putting into your body appeals to many.


But is there any credibility to the concept of detoxing? Does it actually do anything valuable for you, or is it just another trend with no science behind it? Or worse, can it actually be harmful?


It’s hard not to err on the side of skepticism, at least initially.


When you do an online search for a weight loss diet and the first result returned is “Change your life in less than two weeks with a new detox plan that will radically activate your body’s natural ability to heal itself and start losing weight,” and the click-through takes you to a website which sells pills, powders and a promise to lose 30 pounds in three weeks, proceed with caution.


All right, that’s one extreme. But what about the popular juice cleanses? Pressed Juicery,1 for example, offers three levels of ‘cleanses’:


  1. Cleanse 1 is the only cleanse that contains 2 almond milks which are rich in protein and complex carbohydrates and is touts being the one to use if you are new to cleansing or are an athlete or individual with higher caloric needs or hunger concerns.

  2. Cleanse 2, their most popular and balanced cleanse, is perfect for those who want to balance great tasting, easy to drink juices with high efficacy; it contains their most-popular juices for those maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

  3. Finally, the most intense and lowest calorie cleanse is Cleanse 3 which is ideal for those looking for maximum results in the shortest possible time. For experienced cleansers and green juice lovers.


Hmmm… lowest calorie for fast weight loss results? I think there’s something just a bit backward here.


Severely restricting calories can result in fast weight loss, but it’s not sustainable. And, if mass is lost quickly, you can bet the farm it’s not going to be fat that’s coming off, but water weight.


For others, juice cleanses meant to serve as a detox have just the opposite outcome. Say, for example, you’re someone with a low energy level, a headache every day, a difficult time concentrating, and have a hankering for something sweet, often. All of these can be side effects of a candida overgrowth,2 and if you opt to go with a juice cleanse, you could be worsening your symptoms by feeding the yeast with all the sugar from the fruit juice.


Juice cleanses and similar types of unsupervised approaches geared more toward weight loss are not to be confused with other, medically necessary regimes aimed toward ridding the body of heavy metals, for example.


Heavy metal detox, or detoxification, is the removal of metallic toxic substances from the body.3 In conventional medicine, detoxification can also be achieved artificially by techniques such as dialysis and (in a very limited number of cases) chelation therapy. There is a firm scientific base in evidence-based medicine for this type of detoxification.


Many alternative medicine practitioners promote various other types of detoxification such as “diet detoxification,” which is performed to rid the body of toxic metals. Check with your functional medicine doctor if metal toxicity is possible and get it treated properly in a safe, supervised manor.


For the rest of us, simply implementing a True Paleo diet regime can be all that’s needed to jumpstart, cleanse or whatever catchy phrase might be conjured up, the path down the road to optimal health.


The idea of giving the digestive system a rest, in a healthy individual, is about as silly as the idea of giving your heart the day off, or allowing your brain to take a break. Our vital organs are meant to run 24/7, so why not fuel them with the purest form of energy, real food?




[1] Juice Cleanse by Pressed Juicery. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 May 2015.

[2] “Candida Symptoms » The Candida Diet.” The Candida Diet. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 May 2015.

[3] “Heavy Metal Detoxification.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 10 May 2015.