Diet and NutritionFood

Detox Diets and Cleanses: ‘Fab’ or “ ‘Fad’?

What is a detox diet and/or a cleanse?

In general, detox diets are short-term dietary measures intended to eliminate toxins from the body.

Detox Diet
Fruit Juice, A Vital Part Of Detox Diet

A typical detox diet involves a fasting period, followed by a strict fruit, vegetable, fruit juice, and water diet. A detox also often involves herbs, teas, vitamins, and colon clearing or enemas.

They often claim to purify the blood, improve circulation and eliminate all toxins.

Also, they’re alleged to help with health problems like obesity, digestion problems, allergies, inflammation, as well as chronic fatigue.

But there is little to no evidence, as to how these work, what toxins do they eliminate, and how effective are they.

These are often recommended, due to our constant, potential exposure to toxic chemicals.(like pollutants, synthetics, heavy metal, etc)

A typical detox diet/cleanse, may include:

  • 1–3 days fasts.
  • Drink fresh fruit and vegetables juices, smoothies, coffee, and herbal tea.
  • Only drink liquids such as salted water or lemon juice.
  • Eliminate foods with high levels of heavy metals, contaminants and allergens.
  • Taking herbal supplements
  • Avoid all allergenic products, then reintroduce them gradually.
  • Using laxatives, cleanses (colon), or enemas.
  • Exercising regularly.
  • Completely eliminating alcohol, coffee, cigarettes, and refined sugar.

Detox diets never recognize the exact toxins they are trying to remove. It’s also unclear the mechanisms by which they function.

Nonetheless, little or no evidence exists that detox diets eliminate any toxins from the body.

Moreover, the body will purify itself through the liver, blood, urine and sweat. Your body makes harmful substances harmless, and then makes sure they are removed from your body.

Nevertheless, there are a few contaminants which such processes may not eliminate as quickly, including persistent organic pollutants (POPs), phthalates, bisphenol A (BPA), and heavy metals.

These appear to collect in fat tissue or blood and can take very long, even years to flush your body.

During and after detox diets, some people report feeling more focused and energetic.

Detox Diets
Healthy Eating

However, this increased wellness may actually be attributed to the exclusion from the diet of refined foods, alcohol and other harmful substances.

You can also get vitamins and minerals that previously were missing.

That said, during the detox time several people report feeling really unwell too.

Effects on Weight Loss

Very few scientific studies have studied how weight loss impacts on detox diets.

Although some people can rapidly lose a lot of weight, this impact seems to be more due to the loss of fluid and carb stores than to fat. This weight is normally easily regained once you’re off the cleanse.

One research in Korean women overweight looked at the lemon detox diet, which restricts you to a blend of organic maple or palm syrup and lemon juice, for a week.

This diet substantially decreased body weight, BMI, percentage of body fat, waist-to-hip ratio, tail circumference, inflammation markers, insulin resistance and circulating leptin levels.

Detox Diets
Assorted fruit including raspberries, blueberries, limes, lemons, mango, grapefruit, kiwi fruit, grapes, peaches and plums

If a detox diet requires strict restrictions on calories, it will most likely cause weight loss and changes in metabolic health — but it is unlikely to help you hold off weight in the long run.

Detox diets, short-term fasting, and stress 

Some detox diet types can have similar effects to those of short-term or intermittent fasting.

Short-term fasting can improve various disease markers in some people, including improved sensitivity to leptin and insulin. 

However, these results do not extend to everyone. Women’s studies show that both a 48-hour fast and a 3-week reduced calorie intake duration will raise the stress hormone levels.

Detox Diet Example
An Example Of A Detox Diet

On top of this, crash diets can be a stressful experience because they include fighting temptations and experiencing intense hunger 

Detox diets may help with short-term weight loss but further research is required. Some detox diets can look like intermittent fasting regimes which may improve some health biomarkers.

Potential benefits 

Certain elements of detox diets may have health benefits, such as:

  •  Avoiding dietary sources of heavy metals and POPs 
  • Losing excess fat 
  • Exercising and sweating regularly 
  • Eating organic, nutritious, balanced foods
  •  Avoiding processed foods
  •  Drinking water and green tea
  • Limiting stress, relaxing and getting good sleep

 Whether you’re on a detox diet, these guidelines are generally linked to improved health.

 Many aspects of detox diets may be helpful to your health. They involve the avoidance of environmental contaminants, exercise, consuming healthy food, drinking water, stress management and relaxation.

Health and side effects Before doing some kind of research.

It is necessary to consider potential side-effects before performing some form of detox.

Extreme Calorie Restriction 

Some detox diets suggest fasting or limiting intense calorie levels. Short-term fasting and a small intake of calories can lead to fatigue, irritability and bad breath.

Long-term fasting can lead to deficiencies in energy, vitamins and minerals, as well as electrolyte imbalances and even death.

In addition, methods of colon cleansing, which are often prescribed during detoxes, can lead to diarrhea, cramping, bloating, nausea and vomiting.

Many detox diets overdosing may present the risk of overdose on vitamins, laxatives, diuretics, and even water.

In the detox industry, there is a lack of oversight and control, and there may be no clinical rationale for certain detox foods and supplements.

In the worst cases the detox drug ingredient labels can be unreliable. It can raise the risk of overdosing, leading to serious – and even fatal – effects

At-Risk Populations 

Some people should not start any detox or calorie-restricting regimens without first having to consult a doctor.

At-risk populations include children, adolescents, older adults, women who are undernourished, pregnant or lactating and people who have problems with blood sugar, such as diabetes or eating disorder.


Detox diets can significantly limit your intake of energy and nutrients, posing various health risks. Some types of people will never take detox diets.

 Our body is often exposed to and/or produces various toxins. Most of the time, however, it can eliminate them without any further support.

While detox diets may seem tempting, their benefits likely have nothing to do with vanquishing toxins, but rather with eliminating various unhealthy foods.

A much smarter approach is to eat healthier and improve your lifestyle rather than go on a potentially dangerous cleanse.

Written By,

Amulya Sharma,

Student, NIFTEM

Also, if you want to learn about from where is the chicken in your momo coming from, check out the article.

Where’s the chicken from in your momo?

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