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Do you feel like you need a cleanse? Even if you do, you are wasting your money if you’re buying expensive “detox” products? Let’s look at the science, with team EBT member Maria Ekblom!

Cleansing foods or detox diets are methods that claim to “eliminate toxins from the body”, sometimes with the benefit of weight loss. They often involve some modification to your diet like starvation or ingesting “cleansing” foods.

What Is Even a “Toxin”?

The problem is the definition of the word “toxin”. Commercially, toxin often comes from pollutants, synthetic chemicals or processed food. Toxin is claimed to be responsible for many bodily disorders and diseases like gastrointestinal disorders, autoimmune disease, inflammation and weight gain.

You Already Have the Best Detox System

There do exist chemicals that can accumulate in the human body and high doses can be toxic. These pollutants have all been banned and the risk of exposure is steadily declining. However, if one’s exposed, there’s no evidence that food (or the restriction of) will eliminate the substances in the body. The human body has already evolved mechanisms for eliminating toxins. The liver and kidneys are all part of the excretion of unwanted substances. Ingesting certain foods in hope of speeding up the process is, more or less, a waste of money. (1)

No Calories and Lemon Juice Will Obviously Lead to Weight Loss

There are some studies trying to prove the that there are certain foods that possess detoxification properties. One is the “lemon detox” program where the participants drink lemon juice for 7 days in hope of losing weight and become healthier. The results of this study showed, surprisingly, a weight reduction. But not to forget that this is, in fact, a very low-calorie diet so some change in weight is bound to happen. (2)

It is the “Detox Diet” or Something Else Making Your Healthier?

There is little evidence that just one particular food will help the individual become healthier. Detox diets are often studied in combination with other interventions, like calorie restriction or added exercise, which makes it impossible to say that the “detox food” is the one responsible for the seen effects (3,4).

Take Home

At present, there is no evidence to support the use of cleansing foods or detox diets for removing toxic substances from the body. If you want to feel “cleansed”, we recommend drinking plenty of water, going of a walk, eating a home-cooked meal with a salad and getting a good night’s sleep. THAT is something your body will thank you for!

Post provided by @maria_ekblom, a member of #teamEBT. Licensed physiotherapist and personal trainer.

Sources (DOI):

  1. 10.1093/bmb/lds002
  2. 10.1016/j.nutres.2015.04.001
  3. 10.1111/jhn.12286
  4. 10.3109/13590849609001042

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