The human body is a well-oiled machine capable of myriad physiological necessities, including detoxing itself. Many extreme detox diets recommend limiting the intake of certain foods — or of all foods — for a period of time, sometimes much longer than is considered safe.
However, a one-day detox diet is perfectly safe for healthy adults. Some people use a 24-hour cleanse to jump-start a diet or to rest their digestive system if they are experiencing gastrointestinal disturbances. From water-only fasts to a raw food diet, you have plenty of options for a 24-hour cleanse.
Raw Food Detox Diet
If you're not sure about passing up food for a whole day but think you could go 24 hours go without cooked food, a raw food detox diet may be for you. This diet includes primarily fresh fruits and veggies, raw nuts and seeds and sprouted grains. You'll get lots of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants from these plant foods, as well as dietary fiber, which helps your body move waste through the digestive system.
Some raw foodies also include unpasteurized dairy foods, raw eggs, meat and fish. The rule is no foods cooked above 118 degrees Fahrenheit. As far as detox diets go, this one is pretty healthy. But be careful eating raw animal products as they can harbor bacteria that can cause illness, which in some cases can be life-threatening.
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Water fasting is the purest form of detox. For 24 hours, you drink nothing but water. Your body requires water to rid itself of toxins because the kidneys rely on it to remove waste from your blood, according to National Kidney Foundation. As long as you are staying hydrated every day, you're already giving your kidneys what they need to function properly — there's no need to cut out solid food. However, if you decide to only drink water for one day, you can continue to meet your daily needs by consuming the regular recommended intake of about 13 cups for men and 9 cups for women.
Read more: What Does Fasting Do to Your System?
Lemon Water Fasts
There are various forms of the lemon water detox diet, which is one of the most popular detox regimens around. Lemon makes water taste better and adds a punch of nutrition, as lemons are a good source of vitamin C, potassium and antioxidants — although the amount you add to water might not be significant enough to make much of a difference.
You might have heard of the Master Cleanse diet, also known as the lemonade diet. This involves drinking a concoction made from water, lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper. There is no evidence that this drink provides any cleansing benefit and, what's more, it contains loads of sugar in the form of maple syrup, which isn't healthy. It's the not 24-hour detox diet you want for a healthy body.
Juice Detox Diet
People make a lot of claims for the detoxifying benefits of "juicing," few of which have any scientific basis. Still, freshly squeezed juices are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They're also hydrating. While neither of these properties will directly cause detoxification, they can give your body a surge of nutrients and hydration.
However, keep in mind that juices are a concentrated source of sugar; even though it's natural sugar, your body absorbs it just the same. A 2013 study in The British Journal of Medicine showed that consumption of fresh fruit juice is linked with diabetes, while eating whole fruit was associated with a lower risk.
Your best bet is to choose low sugar fruits for juicing, such as tomatoes, grapefruit and melons, or mix a small amount of low-sugar fruit juices with vegetable juices. In addition, leave some of the pulp in your juice to get the benefits of the dietary fiber, which can help slow the absorption of sugar into your bloodstream, says a 2010 article in the journal Nutrients.
Read more: Pros & Cons of Raw Food Diets
Other Types of 24-Hour Detox Diets
There are plenty of other plans for day-long cleanses. Some people avoid sugar, others gluten. Linda Page, ND, PhD, told WebMD that she recommends a detox diet that starts with a green salad and then includes fresh fruit juices, miso soup with seaweed and brown rice with veggies. She also suggests boosting the effects with herbal laxatives, colonics and probiotics. Probiotics have well-documented health benefits, but the benefits of colonics and laxatives for cleansing are not supported by science.
- USDA: Basic Report: 09152, Lemon juice, raw
- U.S. News & World Report: What is Master Cleanse (Lemonade Diet)?
- Harvard Health Publishing: Health benefits of taking probiotics
- TIME: Colon Cleansing: Not So Cleansing After All
- WebMD: Do Fasting Diets Work?
- WebMD: Detox Diets: Cleansing the Body
- Nutrients: Effects of Dietary Fiber and Its Components on Metabolic Health
- BBC Good Food: Should I still drink fruit juice?
- Just Juice: Trying to Cut Down on the Sugar? Here are the Best Low Sugar, High Nutrition Fruits to Juice
- NIH: Foodborne Illnesses
Jody Braverman is a professional writer and editor based in Atlanta. She studied creative writing at the American University of Paris and received a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Maryland. She also received personal trainer certification from NASM and her 200-hour yoga teacher certification from YogaWorks.