Detox

The Truth about Detox Diets

There’s no doubt about it, the promises of detox diets and cleanses are alluring:

  • “Jump start your weight loss”…
  • ”Eliminate impurities”…
  • ”Drop 21 pounds in 10 days”…
  • ”Expel toxins”…
  • ”Revitalize and re-energize your body”…
  • ”Whisk away polluting nasties”…
  • ”Fast, easy weight loss”…
  • ”Purify the body”…
  • “Lose weight like the celebrities”…
  • ”Flush away toxins”

But do they work? Can they provide the health boosts they guarantee? Are they the perfect recipe that the proponents would like you to believe? Or, are they a recipe for disaster and self-sabotage, contributing to a vicious cycle of weight loss and regain, and reinforcing poor eating habits and relationships with food?

One of the most challenging aspects of assessing the various detox diets and cleanses, which tend to be interchangeably used terms and are typically characterized by severe food and calorie restriction, is that you’d be hard-pressed to find a specific scientific definition of either.

In one investigation into 15 popular detox diets, a group of researchers found that no two companies use the same definition for “detox.” Not only that, the researchers found that no program or company could name the supposed “toxins” targeted by its detox, and the advocates were not able to provide any scientific evidence to back up their detox claims, leading the researchers to conclude that “‘detox’ as used in product marketing is a myth. Many of the claims about how the body works were wrong and some were even dangerous.

While the detox industry promotes “purification,” “cleansing,” and “elimination,” it’s incredibly important to point that the human body has evolved highly sophisticated mechanisms for eliminating toxins. The liver, kidneys, gastrointestinal system, skin, and lungs all play a role in the excretion of unwanted substances, without chemical intervention. For example, the liver and kidneys both serve as exceptionally effective “detox” organs, converting toxic chemicals into less harmful ones and promoting the excretion of unwanted chemicals.

The Dietitians Association of Australia has also heavily criticized detoxes. Dietitian Melanie McGrice says, “The problem with [detox] diets is that they’re all about restrictive eating patterns that you can’t stick to over the long haul and may even undermine your health. What you lose on these detox diets is usually fluid, healthy gut bacteria, electrolytes—all things that keep your body healthy—rather than fat. And you don’t need to go on a severe detox because your body has an inbuilt detox system: the lungs, liver, and kidneys working every minute of the day.”

In a review study published in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, Australian researchers combed through the currently available research to assess whether there was any clinical evidence to support the use of detox diets for weight management or toxin elimination, and they concluded, “Although the detox industry is booming, there is very little clinical evidence to support the use of these diets. To the best of our knowledge, no randomized controlled trials have been conducted to assess the effectiveness of commercial detox diets in humans.” They were, however, able to identify a number of concerns and health risks, including the potential for malnutrition.

The take-home point is that there’s no medical evidence indicating that specialized detoxification programs are needed to rid the body of toxins, and these programs that assure you to be effective solutions and quick fixes are built on empty promises.

With that being said, just because the body is equipped with the machinery it needs to “cleanse” and “detoxify” itself and to do so remarkably well, that does not mean that exposure to environmental toxins, pollutants, pesticides, food additives, etc., is not a big deal. That point should not be lost, and in an upcoming newsletter, I’ll share with you several strategies that you can implement to protect you from toxins and to fortify your body’s detoxification defense systems

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply