Celebrities swear by them. The weight loss industry loves them. In fact, Amazon has almost 3000 detox/cleanse products. Cold pressed, unpasteurized, designer…the list goes on! But do detoxes and cleanses really work? Are they necessary and more importantly, are they safe? Despite popularity, there is little if any evidence to support detoxes or cleanses’ claims. In fact, our bodies do a pretty darn good job removing toxins and waste.
Our bodies detoxify 24 hours a day. We produce toxins as byproducts of metabolism (endotoxins). Endotoxins are things like waste, lactic acid, urea to name a few. Our bodies must also remove the external toxins (exotoxins) that we ingest/absorb through our skin, eating and breathing. Exotoxins are things like parabans, mercury, lead and chemicals/pesticides. How do we remove toxins? We excrete toxins through urine, feces and good old sweat.
Claims that are too good to be true?
Claim: You need to remove the toxins from your body by doing cleanses or detox program
False. Your colon does not need cleansing. Period. In fact, cleansing your colon could throw off the good bacteria in your gut. The human body is a self-cleaning mechanism thanks to our kidneys and liver. We don’t need any help at all.
Claim: You will lose weight
Well, this one is true due to that fact that you are consuming less than 500 calories per day. Most cleanses consists of juices (some with added spices). They are low in protein and can be high in sugar. Not consuming enough protein can lead to loss of muscle mass (and a slower metabolism). Once you start eating real food again, chances are, you will not only gain the weight you lost back (which is mostly water), you will put on even more fat. The other crucial problem with cleanses is the lack of chewing. We have tons of literature on the brain activity that occurs when you chew. A cascade of chemical reactions starts when you chew your food. Chewing also requires energy which will bump up your metabolism.
Claim: You need to rest your stomach and give your liver a break
False. Juice companies claim that our stomachs and liver need to “rest”. There is no science to back that up. Your organs were designed to be wprking 24/7 and remove toxins.
Claim: Drinking detox or weight loss teas will help you lose weight while detoxifying your body
False. Proceed with caution with detox teas. Some have been associated with aplastic anemia and liver toxicity. The FDA has issued warning letters to many manufacturers, but that still hasn’t stopped the masses for following trends. Also, the supplement industry is not regulated unlike prescription drugs.
So, for more energy, faster metabolism and healthy gut bacteria, eat real food! Stand for science, not for fads. Here are a few tips to keep your body healthy:
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water
- Consume at least 5-9 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables per day
- Consume foods that contain probiotics like yogurt or kefir
- Aim to consume 25+ grams of fiber each day
- Avoid smoking and second hand smoke
- Watch your alcohol intake
- Catch your ZZZs.
Caroline manages the internal wellness program to improve the health of Methodist Health System’s employee and dependent population. A University of Oklahoma graduate, Caroline has 10 years experience as a registered and licensed dietitian.