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Do Detox Diets Really Work? A Review

do-detox-diets-really-workMost people have done some form of a detox diet and many celebrities swear by them. For example, Gwyneth Paltrow claims that " [she] like to do fasts and detoxes a couple times during the year." And Megan Fox is reported to be a fan of the apple-cider vinegar system for detox. But what do detoxification diets really do exactly? Does following a strict detox diet really reduce the amount of “toxins” inside your body or help to boost your body’s already existing detoxification systems (i.e., liver and kidney functions)? Can intense detox diets offered at spas and retreats really affect the levels of toxicity in your body in just a week? Do detox diets really work?

Detox diets are intended to improve the ability of the body to remove “toxins” from its system. Drink some juices, eat a bunch of “healthy”, “all-natural”, or “organic” foods for a week and voila, the diet shocks your system enough that your body purges itself of all kinds of nasty “toxins” that have built up over the years. It sounds great, but does following a strict detox diet really reduce the amount of “toxins” inside your body or even help your body to remove them? Do detox diets really work?

Do Detox Diets Really Work? The BBC Tests the Effects of a Detox Diet

detox-diet-resultsThe types of detox diets available are numerous and their claims are amazing, but very few, if any, have been scientifically tested. For this reason, the BBC conducted its own study to see if an intense detoxification diet could really change the levels of toxicity in the body. Ten average women were allowed to “mistreat” their bodies with alcohol and “bad” food, and then taken to a retreat for 10 days to see if a detox diet had the ability to help the body remove toxins. The women were randomly split into two groups. Half of them followed a strict vice-free detox diet, while the other half acted as the control group and ate a normal balanced diet that included pizza, bread, pasta, red meat, coffee, tea, alcohol, chocolate, and potato chips (all in moderation of course). The detox diet itself was created by three independent nutritionists who analyzed the common themes published in numerous detox diet plans. The first day of the detox diet consisted of fasting from solid foods. The women on the detox diet were only allowed 4 servings of fresh vegetable juice for their meals and water. Practitioners of detox diets believe that this fasting and juicing will increase the abilities of the liver and kidneys to flush toxins out of the blood. For the remaining nine days the detox dieters were restricted to eating chickpeas, seaweed salads, white fish, and dandelion leaf tea. No dairy, red meat, added sugar, caffeine, or alcohol was allowed.

At the beginning of the experiment, all the women were first tested to see how well their bodies detoxification systems were functioning (i.e., liver and kidney function). Samples of saliva, blood, and urine were taken and tested to establish a toxicity base line. At the end of the ten days, more detox samples (saliva, blood, and urine) were also taken and tested. The results from the first and last days’ samples were then analyzed and compared by the director of the Department of Health Toxicology Unit at Imperial College London, Professor Alan Boobis.

So, did the women on the detox diet flush out more toxins from their systems and get their bodies working more efficiently than the women who ate a normal well-balanced diet? Did the detox diet make any difference to the levels of toxicity in the body by aiding the liver and kidneys in flushing out toxins? Do detox diets really work? The answer is no. After testing the kidney and liver functions and measuring the antioxidant and aluminum levels in their blood, no differences were found between the two groups of women. According to Boobis, “The detox diet had absolutely no effect.” He further states that “[Detox] diets are based on a rather simplistic view of how the body works and fails to take into account [the body’s] true complexity.” The body already has the ability to remove harmful toxins from its system naturally. The liver and kidneys can remove some toxins within minutes and most within 48-hours of entering your body. Simply flushing the liver and kidneys with water and juices will not speed up the body’s natural detoxification processes. The conclusion: submitting yourself to the misery of an intense detox “therapy” will not improve your body’s detoxification processes. It turns out that you are better off just sticking to a well balanced diet all the time.

You can watch the BBC’s The Truth About Food detoxification diet test here.

If you are still unsure whether detoxification diets and products really work, judge for yourself. Here are some detoxification diets and therapies you can try at home:


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