Detox diets have been used for centuries as a way to cleanse the body, spirit and mind. Today, a detox juice fast is more likely an attempt to drop a few pounds quickly, but the basic principle is the same. Most detox diet programs recommend that you avoid animal products, refined sugar, tobacco and alcohol. Aside from the contradiction of taking in something considered toxic during a detox, there are solid reasons why wine and a detox diet might not mix.
Detoxing, or fasting to remove toxins from your body, is not necessary. As professor of pharmacology and pharmaceutical sciences at the University of Southern California School of Pharmacy, Roger Clemens points out that your body is perfectly capable of detoxing itself naturally. Your gastrointestinal tract, immune system, kidneys, liver and lungs already process and eliminate toxins a few hours after exposure. Benefits of a detox fast, like clearer skin, less bloating and more energy, come from the fact that you are more hydrated than usual on a liquid diet and are simply not eating solid foods. Still, a one- to three-day fast that includes between 1,200 and 1,800 calories of fresh fruit and vegetables, and plenty of water may inspire you to continue to avoid sugary, fat-laden processed foods.
Alcohol affects you physically, mentally and emotionally. According to the experts at Clemson University Cooperative Extension, moderate consumption of alcohol may have some health benefits. The American Heart Association agrees that consuming one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men should not cause you any harm. One drink is considered 1 oz. of 100-proof spirits, 1.5 oz. of 80-proof spirits, 4 oz. of wine or 12 oz. of beer. Drinking more than that regularly can lead to diabetes, high blood pressure and heart problems, not to mention the danger of injury and potential tragedies inherent in driving while impaired.
Fasting and Alcohol
Fasting basically empties out your stomach and intestines. Liquids move through your body easily and more quickly than solid foods, especially protein-laden animal fats that take longer to digest. Alcohol is absorbed though your stomach and small intestine. If there is no food in your stomach, the alcohol is absorbed into your bloodstream and carried to your brain that much faster. According to Eric H. Chudler, Ph.D., of the Neuroscience For Kids website, even low doses of alcohol impairs concentration and lowers inhibitions. Aside from just causing you to become intoxicated faster than usual, your lowered inhibitions make it more likely that you’ll abandon your detox fast and head for the chili cheeseburger place.
The benefits of a healthy, short-term detox fast are also short term, unless they energize you to make overall lifestyle changes. The supposed benefits of drinking red wine have been making headlines for several years, but the American Heart Association has yet to endorse these findings. All of the potential benefits of alcohol, like raising good or high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, keeping blood platelets from adhering to form clots and antioxidant effects, can all be obtained through exercise, taking aspirin and consuming antioxidant-rich foods.
Drinking alcohol during a detox fast is counterproductive if you are trying to remove toxins from your body. It may be uncomfortable and may be mildly dangerous if your chosen program is very low in calories and liquid only. But, if you follow a short-term raw foods detox that includes plenty of fruits and raw or lightly cooked vegetables, and you have no more than one drink with one meal, you shouldn’t suffer any ill effects. It’s best to check with your doctor before starting any type of fast or restrictive diet.
Emmy-award nominated screenwriter Brynne Chandler is a single mother of three who divides her time between professional research and varied cooking, fitness and home & gardening enterprises. A running enthusiast who regularly participates in San Francisco's Bay to Breakers run, Chandler works as an independent caterer, preparing healthy, nutritious meals for Phoenix area residents.