Detox Diets and Cleansing Diets: Do They Work?
March 14 2011
What are detox diets and cleansing diets? Do they really get rid of toxins and chemicals from your body? And do we need to cleanse ourselves every now and then?
What are detox diets and cleansing diets?
Basic Premise: The basic premise of every detox and cleansing diet is that our body is constantly accumulating toxins and chemicals from the food and our environment . And we need to get rid of these toxins every now and then.
Duration: These diets last for a short period of time, usually 4-8 weeks.
Methods: Some of the common methods include one or more of: dieting, using herbs and supplements, consumption of specific foods such as fruits and vegetables, juices or water or avoiding fats, sugars, fasting, avoiding caffeine, aclohol, junk food and so on. Some others involve extreme measures such as colon cleansing, liver flushing, chelation, and so on.
What do these diets claim?
Toxin Removal: They claim that these diets or therapies can effectively remove toxins or chemicals trapped in the body through urine or bowel movements .
Benefits: By removing these toxins, they claim that you will have improved energy, clearer and fairer skin, a regular bowel movement, improved metabolism and digestion, increased concentration, and will also prevent diseases.
Now can these diets really remove toxins?
Scientific evidence: There is no scientific evidence to show that you can remove toxins or chemicals using these methods. Chelation, a medically approved procedure, is used to remove heavy metal toxins when people suffer from genuine iron, lead, uranium poisoning. This is only warranted when the levels are dangerously higher than normal.
Pictures: There are pictures on the web of these long algae like substance from bowel movements called mucoid plaque. These are not toxins or chemicals, but they are formed from bentonite and psyllium husk which are most often included in colon cleansers. The bentonite acts like a clay to expand when it mixes with water. The psyllium husk adds bulk and are used as a source of dietary fiber. They are the “toxins” from the very substance which are supposed to clear the toxins.
Foot pads: These foot pads, left on your feet overnight, turns brown in the morning. These pads have powdered wood vinegar which turns brown when it comes in contact with sweat. These pads also peel off the dead cells on your feet which gives them the brown color. It’s funny how toxins are always brown in color and not green or blue.
But what about these chemicals accumulating in the body?
Chemical-Free Life: You cannot lead a chemical-free life because everything is made of chemicals. For example: an average person has more than a trillion atoms of uranium in their body and that hundreds of these atoms are radioactively disintegrating every day. All is coming from a perfectly natural source: the food we eat! Many toxic substances occur naturally in foods, e.g., arsenic, but in doses so small to even bother about.
Dose: The toxicity of a chemical depends on the dosage or the amount received. Aspirin - a wonder drug- in extreme doses becomes toxic and causes acute renal failure, coma, and heart failure. Botox ,one of the most toxic substance know to man, is safely used in cosmetics because it can be highly localized. There is no chemical that can be automatically labeled as dangerous or safe without the above info.
Body’s Detox:Our body has its own detox like the gut which prevents entry of toxins, the liver which breakdown harmful chemicals which are then excreted by the kidneys. None of the above processes can be made more efficient by detox or cleansing.
But what about people feeling better?
Increased Energy: This boost in energy is due to fasting. This is one of the body’s survival mechanism to get you moving to locate food during starvation periods.
Weight Loss: If you are on juice and water and other low calorie diets, you will lose weight. Don’t worry, this is just temporary and you will put all of it right back on when you go back to your regular diet.
Feeling Better: You will feel better if you stop using alcohol, caffeine, junk food, stop smoking and such. That is just common wisdom, right.
Other Benefits: The other benefits like clear skin, improved digestion, increased concentration can be easily traced backed to increased water intake, fruits and vegetables, avoiding too much fatty foods and such.
Placebo effect: If you really believe something is good for you and is helping, you will feel it too even if has nothing medicinal in it. Check this short video about placebo effect.
The bottom line is whatever you are feeling on a detox diet or cleansing diet has nothing to do with removing toxins.
- Detox or cleansing diet cannot clear toxins or chemicals from your body as claimed. The short term benefits has nothing to do with toxins removal.
- We already have an inbuilt detox system in our body namely kidneys and liver.
- If anything is removed with the detox diets, it is your money from your wallet.
If you like it, please share it:
| Mon March 14, 2011
Anoop Thanks for doing this insightful review of Cleansing diets and products. I re-tweeted this and posted on my FB page also! Cleansing is the new age word for laxative. I know your review will help enlighten a lot of people.
| Tue March 15, 2011
Nice article Anoop. Fasting definitely helps and yes avoiding alcohol is another additional help for increased energy…..very nice article. Thanks
Anoop | Tue March 15, 2011
Thanks for the comment. When I was a kid, I really believed in all this stuff. When I saw the stuff which came out with colon cleansing, I am like that’s a lot of toxins. The proof is in the pudding (:-
Thanks Ashok. Please send it all your friends. Couple of years ago when I went to India, there were people who came to my house selling the feet pads. And my Dad and Mom almost bought it!
| Mon April 04, 2011
Also fasting in the long run would lead to weight gain because you lose muscle mass as well leading to slowed matabolism and when your body does not get enough food and you eat it stores it as fat for survival.
| Tue April 12, 2011
This is such a great article. Thanks. One reason i hesitate to start Bikrams yoga is that the “teachers” perpetuate the myth that sweat removes toxins and it makes me crazy, I want to yell out “which toxins”.
Anoop | Tue April 12, 2011
I agree. Imagine what I have to deal with.
Another one is how massage helps remove ‘toxins’.
Anoop | Mon August 01, 2011
This was a recent article on CNN:
Colon Cleansing: Not so Healthy
And what is the best way to cleanse your body according to the article:
“Eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly,” she stressed, “Get six to eight hours of sleep and see a doctor regularly. But no one wants to do that,” she said with exasperation. “But they’ll use a hose to flush themselves out! The use of these methods are unhealthy. And what’s scary is we only examined the cases that were reported to hospitals and doctors. Imagine all the people who are using these products and methods and have side effects and never go to the hospital. We don’t know about them. The numbers could be staggering.”
| Sat May 04, 2013
the best “cleansing” diet is the way muslims fast in ramadan…its gauranteed fat burning ..if done properly…