Top Photo Corporation/Top Photo Group/Getty Images

In recent years, detox diets have become the new dieting and health trend. While some types of detox diets are recommended by natural health professionals, others are simply clever marketing schemes. Most often, the detox diets that natural health advocates endorse are those that involve individuals fasting or consuming a plant-based, whole-foods diet for a period of time to clean out the body.

Definition of a Detox Diet

The purpose of a detox diet is to rid the body of harmful chemicals, contaminants and toxins that may be stored in the body. Humans come into contact with these contaminants largely through the food they eat, but also through environmental factors such as pollution. In theory, a detox diet clears these toxins from the body by eliminating the dietary intake of them. When your body is not constantly fighting new toxins, it will have the chance to "clean out" the existing stored toxins.

Types of Detox Diets

The features of detox diets vary greatly. Most detox diets encourage individuals to drink lots of water and consume fresh, raw fruits and vegetables. Some detox diets may be more extreme and instruct participants to fast on only water or raw vegetable juices. At the other end of the spectrum, individuals may simply cut out products from their diet that are processed or slightly toxic to the body.

A vegetarian detox diet advocates that individuals cut out animal products from their diets. Meat and dairy products often contain harmful antibiotics and hormones that were fed to the animals. They also have a high acid-load on the body when consumed.

Other detox diets also may instruct individuals to use certain herbs, supplements and colon cleanses to move substances through the intestines quickly in addition to following a strict diet.

Duration of a Detox Diet

Detox diet plans generally last 7 to 10 days. However, some individuals choose to fast for one day a week or to frequently participate in a short 3 to 4 day juice or water fast. If you are consuming solid food, a longer fast of at least 7 to 10 days of raw fruits and vegetables is recommended. Individuals with experience fasting may choose to consume green juice or smoothies for months at a time. Raw foodists make it a lifestyle to consume only raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and sprouts.

Expert Insight

The idea behind a detox diet is that the liver is overloaded with environmental and dietary toxins and cannot clear all of them out of the body. However, according to "Fitness" magazine, detox diets are unnecessary for most people. Some health experts claim the human body is capable of clearing out toxins on a daily basis through the liver, kidneys, skin, lungs and digestive system while following a standard American diet.

Side Effects

According to, detox diets may cause adverse side effects that include dehydration, fatigue, dizziness and nausea.

If you are pregnant or nursing, you should not participate in a detox diet.

If you are considering taking part in a detox diet, consult a doctor prior to beginning to obtain health guidelines and recommendations.