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Thursday, 29 September 2016 12:30

Detox Diets and Cleanses - Healthy or Harmful?

Detox diets and cleanses are usually made up of stuff that sounds really healthy; spirulina, kale extract, a range of blended fruits and vegetables or a combination of things like maple syrup, lemon juice and cayenne pepper that are supposedly going to ‘cleanse’ us from the inside. Therein lies the promise of ‘detoxifying’ our bodies of toxins. What are these toxins that we are trying to cleanse? Generally speaking, toxins are usually things that are poisonous to the body when ingested. I am sure pizza, some wine or a block of chocolate isn’t going to poison us. That said, many things are toxic to an extent, and some can even be helpful to the body. For example, Vitamin A is essential for maintaining healthy teeth, bones, soft tissue, skin and helps to promote good vision in low light. Overeating Vitamin A can cause liver damage.

The idea with many of these nutritional detoxes is that from the foods that we eat, toxins slowly build up and affect our health in a negative way. But, simply put, nutritional detox has no scientific basis.

If ‘bad’ foods cause toxic build up, why don’t we just eat better? Eating one bad meal doesn’t make you unhealthy, nor does one good meal make you healthy. Doing a 7 day cleanse should not be a substitute for when you eat poorly. 7 days of juicing your way to great health isn’t a practical solution for your 358 days of bad decisions. This merely covers up the root of the problem, which is poor eating habits. Habits take time to develop (up to 66 days!), but take the time to do so, and your body will reap the rewards.


Here’s a few reasons why detox diets and cleanses don’t work.

Detoxing doesn’t help us lose weight – at least not permanently. Like I mentioned before, the key problem is your food habits. We might lose weight on a detox diet in the short term (mainly water and carbohydrate stores), but we haven’t addressed the root of the problem. The weight will just slowly come back on again once we go back to our ‘normal’ eating

Our body has natural detoxification systems in place - The digestive tract, kidneys and the liver all play a role in removing toxins from the body. Why do we need to detox the things that detox us everyday?

Detox diets are not nutritionally sustainable – They are usually very low in energy, meaning you become agitated, irritable and sluggish for the duration of the cleanse. Not to mention, they are likely to be low in protein, fibre and carbohydrates that your body needs to function properly.

Detoxes form poor relationships with food – The idea of overindulging then cutting back on a detox for a few days to then indulge again becomes a harmful cycle for many. You never learn to eat properly or in moderation.


The bottom line, addressing our poor habits and choices will be a good enough detox in itself. Let the body do what it was made to do. Eat things in moderation, but mostly vegetables with decent amounts of lean proteins and carbohydrates. Cleanses and detoxes are a band-aid for a deeper problem with food. Spend your time and money addressing the underlying issues and you will be far better off!

Final tip: Eat your fruit rather than juicing it so you know exactly how much you are having!


A photo posted by Ryan (@valitusnutrition) on Sep 26, 2016 at 4:08pm PDT

Read 4582 times Last modified on Thursday, 29 September 2016 18:16