Detoxes are also known as cleanses and often used interchangeably. These are buzz words in the diet culture, but do you really know what they are? There are different methods of detoxing and cleansing, but it is important to know the risks. Detoxes claim to help you reset or lose weight, but is a detox really necessary?
What is a Detox?
The idea behind detoxing is there are too many toxins built up in your body than it can excrete, so it needs assistance. These short-term interventions may involve fasting for a period of time, followed by a diet of fruits, vegetables, and water. They claim to help with obesity, digestive issues, inflammation, bloating, and chronic fatigue.
Examples of detoxes:
- Drinking only liquids like natural juices, water, and tea.
- Taking laxatives, colon cleanses, or enemas.
- Drinking only lemon water with maple syrup and cayenne pepper.
- Using a sauna.
- Using herbs.
What science says
There is limited research backing up detoxing for weight loss. The studies show positive effects of detoxing but lack the numbers to be significant. These studies are considered low-quality studies. It is important to note, the studies showing support were not done on humans.
Furthermore, another study suggested that detox diets, although they produce initial weight loss, fail to show long-term success. People report feeling more energetic and focused during a detox diet, but this could be because of eliminating processed foods in the diet. This feeling could also be associated with the addition of nutrients they might not have gotten before.
Weight loss with detox diets are common, but it can be deceiving. Although you see rapid weight loss, it is not lasting. Most of the weight loss is mainly because of severe caloric restriction. The weight loss is also through water and carbohydrate stores, which will be regained as soon as you start eating normally.
Finally, the claim that detox diets eliminate toxins is not well supported. In fact, it is unclear which toxins are eliminated or how they are eliminated. Your body has many mechanisms to cleanse itself through sweating, the liver, defecation, and urination.
Assessing the safety
Some detox programs like tea contain laxatives. This may lead to diarrhea, dehydration, and loss of electrolytes.
Drinking high amounts of water and tea without food for days can lead to electrolyte imbalance.
The FDA and FTC have taken action against many detoxing/cleansing programs because of their false advertising, potentially harmful illegal ingredients, and marketing for unapproved uses.
Colon cleanses have side effects like cramping, vomiting, and bloating. It’s best to do these things within the recommendation of your doctor.
Detoxes may involve severe calorie restriction. They lack important nutrients like protein and fatty acids. If done long-term, detoxes can cause mineral deficiencies, fatigue, irritability, and electrolyte imbalances.
Detox diets may disrupt gut flora, irritating digestive functions.
Certain juice cleanses may be helpful in addition to your regular diet. Most adults have trouble consuming their necessary daily fruits and vegetables; drinking these natural juices are helpful to support that need. It might be best to consume the fruits and vegetables to preserve the fiber contents in the form of a smoothie.
Overall, you can support how your body naturally detoxes itself through proper hydration, fiber consumption, and an adequate diet.
The term detox is used too loosely, and your body does not need assistance eliminating toxins. If you truly needed to eliminate toxins, you would close to death or very sick. According to medical professionals, the only needed detoxes are those that are for drug-addicted people.
Detoxes involving severe calorie restriction in the long term can cause fatigue, irritability, vitamin deficiencies, and bad breath. In addition, some may overdose on supplements, laxatives, and water. Because this industry is not regulated, it can cause serious issues or death.
The best way to undo all of the bad habits you created over time is to make small changes. Learn your limits, and don’t put junk in your body consistently. Focus on a diet with whole natural food sources and exercise regularly. Your body has everything it needs to detox itself from unnatural substances, and it takes consistent changes to undo the damage.