Can a Detox Diet Improve My Looks?
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Can a Detox Diet Improve My Looks?

Toxin-flushing detox diets are still popular, despite crazy ingredients, weeks-long durations, and extreme restrictions. But can a detox diet really improve your skin and hair, or will it do more damage than good? Top experts reveal the real effects detoxing can have on your looks.
Q. "Do I need to eliminate toxins with a special diet?"

A. I No, says FITNESS advisory board member Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD: "Our bodies are designed to naturally detox." The liver filters harmful substances from the blood; kidneys excrete waste; lungs feed cells with fresh oxygen and push carbon dioxide out; and sweating clears skin of toxins.

Q. "What will I look like after a few days on a detox?"

A. Not pretty. You can drop up to five pounds in a week -- primarily water weight. "Losing water that fast can make your skin dry and wrinkly," Blatner says. And going a week without protein can weaken hair, which is 97 percent protein, says Tara Gidus, RD, of the American Dietetic Association.

Q. "Isn't cutting out carbs a good thing for skin?"

A. Processed carbohydrates (white bread, pasta) can make you look bloated, but eliminating healthy versions (whole-grain breads, brown rice) can lead to a vitamin B deficiency. The immediate result: "Your skin could become pale and break out," says Cleveland-based dietitian Amy Jamieson-Petonic, RD.

Q. "Is there such a thing as a healthy detox diet?"

A. Yes. Start by drinking two extra glasses of water a day. H2O won't improve the look of your skin, but it will rid you of bloat-boosting toxins, which can make skin appear dull and puffy. Also, consume 20 to 25 grams of fiber and at least five servings of fresh fruits and veggies, Jamieson-Petonic says.

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, April 2009.