By: Sarah Casciato, RD, MHSc., and Alicia Lang, MHSc(c)
Detox teas, detox diets, and juice cleanses have been around in some form for decades, but do they actually do anything? In this blog, we will break down all things “detox” and why you shouldn’t participate.
What are Detoxes?
Detox diets come in a variety of shapes and sizes such as juice cleanses, diets, and teas, but all essentially promise the same thing - they will “flush out the toxins in your body”. Detoxes claim to aid in weight loss, and a host of other benefits. While this marketing can be effective, it is unfortunately a misrepresentation of the detoxification process, which occurs naturally in your body.
Detox products are often based on poorly done research, misconstrue research, or are based on no research at all, making the quality and the safety of these products questionable. The good news is, you absolutely don’t need to buy them!
The Only Detox You Need
In our bodies, there is a constant detoxification process by the lungs, liver, kidneys, and the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. This process removes toxins from the body, whether they are toxins that are made by our body as we break down the food we eat, or toxins that come from outside the body, like bacteria on our food, pollution, chemicals, and more.
Our body’s work to get rid of these toxins through going to the bathroom (both kinds) and breathing, and it does this without needing help from any juices, teas, or diets.
The only time you may need extra assistance in detoxing is if you have a disease of any of the organs mentioned before (lungs, liver, kidneys, and the GI tract). For example, people experiencing kidney failure have their blood filtered in an intensive medical process called “dialysis”. But the average healthy person does not need additional support in “detoxing”, as your body does this for you!
Should I Still do a Juice Cleanse?
The pressed juices used in juice cleanses provide a high dose of vitamins and minerals, but also are high in sugar and skip out on all the satisfaction that comes with actually eating whole fruits and vegetables. Juices do not contain the fibre found in the skin of fruits and vegetables, are low in volume, and do not require any chewing - which is part of what signals to our brains that we are full and satisfied when eating.
Juice cleanses can be dangerous as they are extremely low in calorie and not well balanced, as they do not provide protein or fats, and our body needs more than just sugar (yes, even if it’s naturally occurring sugars) to function properly.
What Are Detox Teas?
Detox teas are essentially just laxatives, meaning they will cause you to take many trips to the bathroom to go number 2. Sure, this is part of the natural detoxification process, but when it is aided by laxatives to a level that causes you more trips to the bathroom than your body actually needs, it can be dangerous and unhealthy.
Using laxatives can cause dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, and even can cause nutrient deficiencies. Many detox teas are marketed as “14 day Detox”, but include a warning to not consume their product more than once every 2 days, further demonstrating that these products are likely not safe.
What About Detox Diets?
Detox diets are often extremely low in calories, which can cause nausea, confusion, dizziness, and could possibly lead to eating disorders and other negative health effects. Any weight loss achieved through detox diets will likely not lead to lasting weight loss, as the diet is completely unsustainable for good health. If your goal is to lose weight, work with a Registered Dietitian instead to find a balanced approach that may lead to sustained weight loss through healthy behaviour changes and a higher quality diet.
Why do Detoxes and Cleanses “Work”?
Using the term “work” loosely, detoxes and cleanses can lead to weight loss simply because these diets provide very little calories resulting in a large calorie deficit. Additionally, these diets restrict the intake of highly processed foods, which can contribute to weight gain, bloating and discomfort. Essentially, weight loss may be a side effect of cleanses and detoxes simply because you are not eating enough and avoiding the foods that may have contributed to weight gain in the first place.
Detox diets, teas, and cleanses can be very dangerous, and do not lead to sustained weight loss. Your body has a natural detoxification process that does not need to be supported by any external product sold to you by a company claiming to solve all your problems if you simply buy their product. Save your money and find other, safer ways to improve your health.
Want to learn more? Click Here to book an appointment with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist today!
- Foroutan, R. (2021, April). What’s the Deal with Detox Diets? Retrieved from https://www.eatright.org/health/wellness/fad-diets/whats-the-deal-with-detox-diets
- Langer, A. (2016, April 14). (Diet Review) Should You Detox With Skinny Teatox? Retrieved from https://abbylangernutrition.com/diet-review-should-you-detox-with-skinny-teatox/
- National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. (2019, September). “Detoxes” and “Cleanses”: What You Need To Know. Retrieved from https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/detoxes-and-cleanses-what-you-need-to-know
Unlock Food (2019, February 26). Will Bowel Cleansing Help me Lose Weight and Keep My Digestive System Healthy? Retrieved from https://www.unlockfood.ca/en/Articles/Digestion/Will-Bowel-Cleansing-Help-me-Lose-Weight-and-Keep.aspx