Is a detox diet right for you?

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HOUSTON - They have different names like Master Cleanse and Clean Green, but all claim to rid your body of toxins, excess calories and even help you shed pounds. Detox diets are popular, but do you really need to put your body through all that stress to get results?

For 30 days, Wordna Warren Pritchett and Trish Peva turned their diets upside down and eliminated all processed foods, along with most animal products and fats.

"I wanted to make sure that, in addition to eating healthier, I was getting that bad stuff out of my system," said Pritchett.

The women found the diet plan at Whole Foods Market as part of the store's "healthy eating challenge" led by Ebeth Johnson.

"I want people to understand that detox is something that helps our body all the time, but we can help our body along by choosing foods that help facilitate that," Johnson explained.

Johnson encourages participants to start by eliminating refined sugars and flours, dairy, oils and to strictly limit their meat intake to about three ounces a week.

"Clearing out the system, giving the body a chance to reset, recalibrate, kind of come back to center," she added.

Pritchett and Peva said they're both feeling lighter and more energized, but nutrition experts warn that other types of detox diets, especially those that are strictly liquid, could leave you feeling quite the opposite.

"There's no evidence to indicate that it benefits your body in any way and frankly the risks outweigh any benefits," said registered dietician Joy Dubost.

Dubost said highly-restrictive detox diets could lead to low blood sugar and that can cause headaches, lethargy and trouble concentrating.

"You may even have heart palpitations because you're affecting the electrolyte balance in your body. Some folks feel just not too happy and irritable because they're not eating," Dubost said.

Dubost said the liver and kidneys help the body detox naturally of toxins and that there's no physiological need to do it on your own through dramatic cleansing or liquid diets.

But Johnson said that doesn't account for people who already have poor nutrition, drink too much caffeine and don't get enough sleep.

"I think that would be true if we were in an ideal environment where we're all eating what we need to be eating. We do need to give our bodies a rest and break to help facilitate that detoxifying process by giving ourselves some great healthy foods," said Johnson.

Experts do agree you should get the go-ahead from your own doctor before starting a detox diet.

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