De-mystifying “Detox” Is detoxing the right way to diet?

March 1, 2019

Documentaries, blog posts, pop-ups, and YouTubers bombard us with diet advice for detoxing or cleansing our bodies for the purpose of health and weight loss. This sounds like wellness culture... There are recommendations to fast, juice, eliminate certain foods, and add in others. What does detoxing really mean and do we need to?

What is detoxing? Detoxification is the biochemical process that transforms toxins into compounds that can be excreted by our bodies. Sources of toxins can include our environment, food, water, cleaning products, and personal care items. Fortunately, our bodies have an effective, built-in detox system involving our lungs, digestive tract, liver, and kidneys that do a fantastic job in detoxifying us daily.

There are nutrients that help the body’s detox systems function properly. A diet rich in whole foods, including fruits and vegetables, and plenty of fiber and water supports a healthy, natural detoxification process.

What’s a detox diet? Detox diets are often based on questionable studies and limited in nutrients and calories, leading to muscle loss. Muscle loss will result in weight gain once the diet is stopped. There are no magic foods or pills that result in weight loss, including juices. Juices can be high in calories and lead to weight gain instead of loss. Also, juice fasts or strict juice diets are typically restricted in calories and often lack protein (needed to maintain muscle mass), and fats and fibers, which provide a sense of fullness.

Are teas or supplements safe? Other versions of detox plans include teas, powders, and supplements. These products may contain stimulants, laxatives, or diuretics that can cause a variety of unpleasant side effects like irritability, dehydration, stomachache, and electrolyte imbalances. Most products are ineffective and potentially harmful. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

What works? Is what makes us feel our best and is sustainable.  A combination of a balanced diet, movement, and behavioral therapy. Rapid weight loss typically doesn’t last because it is built on restriction and this idea that we aren't enough. Let me tell you, you are enough!!  Bye bye, detox diets, we see you and we gladly decline.