Detoxification (detox) is a term that refers to a variety of processes used to remove toxins from the body. While the most commonly recognized forms of detoxification include drugs and alcohol, the popularity of dietary detoxification regimens has increased as public awareness of diet related illnesses has improved. Although some people tout the effectiveness of liver and kidney detox diets, healthcare professionals often question their legitimacy and encourage individuals to seek consultation from a physician.
The human body has a remarkable ability to regulate its internal balance of water and nutrients when the organ systems are functioning correctly. Mechanisms within the liver and the kidneys are designed to react to toxic levels of particles by either metabolizing them into nontoxic particles or excreting them from the body. Healthy individuals generally do not have to be concerned about the accumulation of toxic chemicals in the body because their internal mechanisms will automatically eliminate any toxins that exist. The best way for a healthy individual to prevent diet related illness is to consume nutrient rich foods and exercise on a regular basis. Maintaining a healthy body weight and engaging in cardiovascular exercise each week will often accomplish more than a liver or kidney detox diet.
Individuals who require dialysis treatment should be especially careful when it comes to detoxification diets and supplements. Dialysis is a necessary procedure for end stage renal disease patients because their kidneys are no longer able to filter excess water and waste from the body. If kidney disease patients did not receive this life-saving treatment, they would likely suffer serious illness and eventually death from the accumulation of toxic particles in the body. Dialysis is designed to mimic the filtration capability of a kidney by directing the blood along a membrane that allows water and wastes to leave the body. While dialysis cannot fully compensate for the loss in kidney function, it does an effective job of removing enough water and wastes to allow individuals to live longer and healthier lives.
Those who suffer from kidney failure will work closely with a variety of medical professionals who are trained to ensure a proper balance of water and nutrients in the body. Physicians, nurses, technicians, and dietitians work together to make sure dialysis patients receive the proper amount of filtration so that toxins are removed and essential nutrients are left in the body. Patients who are curious about kidney detox diets should ask their physician and dietitian about the potential benefits and risks of altering the prescribed renal diet. In most cases, the medical team will advise against deviating from the prescribed diet because of the risk of developing symptoms such as malnutrition, muscle aches, fatigue, nausea, and maybe even death. Patients who are concerned about the ability of dialysis to adequately filter toxins may wish to have the physician and dietitian explain the different lab values that they monitor.
Healthy individuals are advised to avoid liver and kidney detox diets until after consulting a physician. Kidneys that function properly may not be capable of preventing the effects of some detoxification diets. Those who have begun a kidney detox diet are encouraged to seek medical advice in the event that they develop aches, cramps, fatigue, tiredness, lightheadedness, or nausea. Side effects like these may mean that the body is not getting essential nutrients and could be suffering from damage to vital organ systems.
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