Why "Detoxing" Is A Waste of Your Time

Science says you should think twice before buying into "detox" supplements and "cleanses"

Wikipedia/Casey Serin, Licensed under Creative Commons

Ingredients for the Master Cleanse

Type “detox” into the shopping tab on Google and you’ll find that you can use supplements to cleanse everything from your hair to “every major organ” inside your body.  

But here’s a little known secret that the manufacturers and marketers of those products don’t want you to know: the body detoxes itself naturally on a regular basis without the help of miracle juices, organic teas, or acupuncture foot pads.

Though, within the realm of health and wellness, it’s really not all that surprising why words like “detox” and “cleanse” have hung on so stubbornly. Not only do they conjure thoughts of flushing toxins from the body, but they’re also, somehow, associated with shedding weight, letting go of unhealthy habits, and ultimately, turning over a new leaf.

This is in part thanks to celebrities (cough Beyoncé cough) who give credit to extreme diets, like the Master Cleanse, when explaining how they lost such a large amount of weight in such a short amount of time.

However, as Julia Belluz so eloquently pointed out in a recent story on Vox, there are two major concerns that kind of debunk the whole idea of “detoxing” as most manufacturers and marketers want us to see it.

First, products that promise to “detox” your body almost never define exactly what the “enemy” is. “As we all pursue a more pure, toxin-free state, what’s incredible is that most of us don’t even know which toxic enemy we are running from,” Belluz wrote.

And second, our bodies were designed to eliminate harmful toxins naturally. “In the absence of disease, these processes happen automatically, every second we live, and we don’t need outside help to get them going. No supplement, tea, or diet has been proven to somehow do the job instead or enhance these systems,” Dr. Edzard Ernst, an alternative medicine expert and emeritus professor at Exeter University told Belluz.

So next time that new product at Whole Foods is reeling you in with its “detoxification” capabilities, think twice about whether or not it’s really worth your time and money. (Hint: it's not.)

And as for juice cleanses and other fad diets that promote quick weight loss, while they may be able to help you shed some fat over the course of a few days or weeks, remember that those results likely won't last once you've returned to your regular eating habits.


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