(blog updated April 19, 2021)
Detox diets are sought out by millions of people. They are looking for a fast and easy fix to help them “detox” and lose weight. Personally, I think detox diet products are bullshit products that come with health risks. I’m about to tell you why in this article but first, let’s spend some time learning about what being toxic even means.
HOW WE BECOME TOXIC
What is a toxin? How do we even become toxic? If we are toxic, how does that affect us? What is the process to reduce or eliminate toxicity levels in our bodies? These are important questions we need to seek to understand before we invest in a product or service that claims it will detox our body.
“A toxin is basically any substance that creates irritating and/or harmful effects in the body; stressing and undermining one’s biochemical health and organ function. Toxins can come from by-products of normal cell metabolism or from the outside environment e.g. pollution, drugs, pesticides, dyes, colourings, microbes, heavy metals, tobacco smoke and so on.
Toxicity occurs when we take in more than we can utilize and eliminate. Multitudes of symptoms are suggestive of toxicity such as headaches, pains, bad breath, rashes, indigestion, frequent colds, mood changes and so on.” (1)
HOW WE DETOXIFY
Your body has a detox system built in which operates 24/7. “Detoxification is the process of clearing toxins from the body or neutralizing them. The body’s built-in detoxification apparatus include the respiratory, gastrointestinal, urinary, skin and lymphatic systems.” (2)
In true detox therapy, the sources causing the toxicity need to be identified so one can remove or minimize exposure to prevent the toxins from building up again. Toxicity levels in the body need to be tested and symptoms need to be identified in the individual. The correlation has to be established, so to be certain that the source deemed to be toxic is actually causing the problems. Then a personalized plan of action to reduce exposure and eliminate toxicity needs to be designed and carried out for that specific individual.
Now let me ask you – after reading the above, does this sound like a detoxification treatment plan you can get from a box?
DANGERS OF SELF-DIAGNOSES
Often people self-diagnose themselves and state they are toxic. When I hear this, I ask, “What specific toxins and what are the levels of each in your body?” They don’t know the answer and give me a blank stare. This is one reason why I have a problem with detox diet marketing as they are telling people they are toxic with misleading information. People believe this to be true as they read the info and think “that sounds like me” and then they buy into it. This is dangerous as detox diets can cause harm.
TYPES OF DETOX DIETS
There are a gazillion different types of detox diets on the market such as juices, shakes, supplements, herbs, select foods, enemas, laxatives, and so on. You can also find detox methods such as fasting, wraps, and soaks.
None of these types of products or methods have produced any hard scientific evidence proving that their system works to detox the body of the toxins they claim to remove. (3) If you disagree and have found a scientific study to disprove my statement, PLEASE share it with me in the comment section below. From my own research on PubMed and other online databases for scientific research, I have yet to find anything conclusive.
COMPANIES SELL LIES
Companies are so good at marketing to capitalize on the consumer desperate to lose weight. Blinded by their marketing strategies, and strong desire to lose weight now, consumers put their trust and faith into the detox diet product they purchase.
People want a quick fix, and let’s face it, “detox” is a buzzword. Humans are curious by nature, and so they want to try it and talk about it. This can be a motivating factor to kick-start their weight loss, regardless of the fact that the product is scamming the consumer.
THEY TRICK YOU
While there are no studies revealing hard evidence that detox diet products work to remove toxins, they are generally low calorie. If someone uses a detox product in place of a higher caloric food they previously were consuming, this can create a daily caloric reduction and that person can lose weight. People are tricked into thinking it is the actual product helping them lose weight but in fact, the detox diet product is just a placebo. When using these products, the user may also be making healthier food choices, taking up a new fitness routine, going to bed earlier, drinking more water, and so on.
Calories are reduced, a deficit is created, and that is WHY weight loss occurs. If there is anything that science has proven to us time and time again is that weight loss occurs from a calorie deficit. You can’t just drink a “special tea” and have the weight drop off. Not possible!
Unfortunately, people do not recognize this and attribute the weight loss results to the actual product instead of the real changes they are making. People are being tricked, and not giving credit where credit is due.
CBC Marketplace has some very interesting information to help educate people on detox diets. Check out the episode below that they did on Dr. Oz’s detox cleanse.
So if the detox diet product helps you lose weight, what’s the big deal? One main reason – it’s not sustainable! When people grow tired of the product, they stop using it. They lose their motivation, and they go back to old habits = weight gain, and maybe even more than before.
There are some risks that come with using detox diet products too. “The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Federal Trade Commission have taken action against several companies selling detox/cleansing products because they contained illegal, potentially harmful ingredients; were marketed using false claims that they could treat serious diseases, or (in the case of medical devices used for colon cleansing) were marketed for unapproved uses.” (4)
Here is a list of dangers, described by the National Centre for Complementary and Integrated Health:
- Juices that haven’t been pasteurized or treated in other ways to kill harmful bacteria can make people sick, especially those with weak immune systems.
- Drinking large quantities of juice may be risky for people with kidney disease because some juices are high in oxalate, which can worsen kidney problems.
- People with diabetes should follow the eating plan recommended by their health care team.
- Colon cleansing procedures may have side effects, some of which can be serious. Harmful effects are more likely in people with a history of gastrointestinal disease, colon surgery, kidney disease, or heart disease.
- Detoxification programs often include laxatives, which can cause diarrhea severe enough to lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.
- Fasting can cause headaches, fainting, weakness, dehydration, and hunger pangs.
Take the tea fad and the detox fad, combine them together and you get teatox. Here’s what the experts have to say about that. It only takes two minutes to watch, and I highly recommend it.
A QUICK FIX DOESN’T EXIST
People need to accept there are no quick fixes. In fact, I would argue that these so-called quick fixes actually take even longer. Consumers buy the “quick fix”, drop a bunch of weight, stop using the “quick-fix” method as it’s not sustainable, and then gain all the weight back. Repeat.
How is that a quick fix? It’s not. It’s torture, pure torture, that goes on forever. It won’t stop until the person decides to not be fooled anymore and take a proactive approach by making sustainable lifestyle changes, one day at a time. The first step is to build habits. Without sustainable habits in place, weight loss will always be a battle.
A BETTER SOLUTION
Did you know that only about 5% of the population who lose weight keep it off? This small 5% keep their weight off by consistently living a healthier lifestyle that is unique to them. They developed their own system of eating healthy foods that taste great to them and doing the exercises they enjoy. Their ability to keep the weight off definitely does not come from a box, or pill, or powder.
The best method for weight loss and keeping it off is by creating a personalized system that you can sustain for the rest of your life AND makes you happy. The things you do have to make you happy or else you won’t sustain them. The key is to find foods and fitness that you enjoy and then build habits to support them.
This is going to look different for everyone. We all have our own personal preferences, daily routines, likes, dislikes, jobs, family, commitments, and everything else that needs to be considered. Whatever you choose, it must be enjoyable and jive with your life, or else you won’t be able to sustain it.
Detox diet companies don’t really care about your individual health. They say they do in the media and advertising, of course, because saying otherwise would decrease sales. They HAVE to say it! You can’t market a detox or weight loss product by saying, “Just buy it, I don’t care if it helps you, I just want your money.” However, what they do care about is your wallet, your loyalty, and your dependency.
The real fix is in real food, regular exercise, a positive mindset and dedication to building sustainable healthy habits. If you really want to detox or lose weight, then seek out a professional with a credible background that can help you identify the problem areas and build a personalized plan of action to get you on track. This will ensure a better fit for your own body, lifestyle, and goals.
Weight loss does not have to be a painful process. With the right plan, it can be a life-enhancing enjoyable journey.
Do you have a story of a detox diet? I am very interested to hear about it. Write your story below in the comments field or feel free to email me.
(1)(2) Dr. Jonas LaForge Inc. Accessed Dec. 31, 2018. http://drjonaslaforge.com/detoxification.html
(3) Klein HV & Kait H. “Detox diets for toxin elimination and weight management: a critical review of the evidence..” Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics. Dec. 18, 2014. Accessed Dec. 31, 2018. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25522674
(4) “Detoxes and Cleanses.” National Centre for Complementary and Integrated Health. Sept. 24, 2017. Accessed Dec. 31, 2018. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/detoxes-cleanses