Is Detoxing Your Body a Myth?

Are detox diets a shortcut to help you shed pounds and gain energy or are they just a dangerous detour to hangry?

Many celebs swear by detoxing – Beyonce is reportedly a fan of the Master Cleanse, Gwyneth Paltrow touts an Ayurvedic version on her website and Khloe Kardashian’s Instagram posts showcase her reaching for “detox water. ” You may be tempted to try one of these diets for yourself, but before you do, read on.

What is a Detox Diet?

A detox diet typically refers to a short-term diet method that focuses on removing environmental and dietary toxins from the body through a calculated program that stipulates what you ingest. Typically a detox diet minimizes the amount of chemicals you ingest and emphasizes the nutrients and vitamins you take in.

For example, The Master Cleanse is a liquid diet is a modified juice cleanse that combines a mixture of lemon juice, maple syrup, cayenne pepper and water over the course of 10 days. No solid food is consumed. Other cleanses allow certain types of foods to be ingested and others rely on a combination of herbs, teas, supplements and colonics.

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Do Detox Diets Work?

While losing a lot of weight in a week, increasing your energy level and improving your focus all sound amazing, there is no substantial science to back up any of those claims. In fact, you don’t even need to detox. As long as you are otherwise healthy, your liver and kidneys are effective at eliminating toxins all on their own.

What’s more, because you’re eating nothing but celery or drinking gallons of lemon-flavored water, you’re going to be hungry — really, really hungry. You need food to survive and when you don’t eat enough, you may feel weak, dizzy, nauseous or disoriented. Worse, following a restricted diet can cause vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Detox diets are particularly dangerous for diabetics because they can cause low blood sugar.

And those “teas” and supplements that some programs recommend? They can make you dehydrated or send you running to the bathroom with diarrhea. Some may even cause adverse reactions with your medications.

Even if you do manage to stay on the diet for a few days or a week, there’s a good chance you’ll gain any weight you lost back as soon as you look at a sandwich and go back to your regular eating habits.

So why do so many celebrities and others swear by detox diets? If you are currently going on nightly Del Taco runs, binging regularly on microwave popcorn or have a chocolate addiction, chances are you will get an energy boost when you cut out these foods. Processed foods are loaded with salt, sugar and saturated fats that can make you feel sluggish.

A Better Alternative to Detoxing

Instead of a strict detox, experts recommend a “clean” eating plan of whole, unprocessed foods that is heavy with fruits and vegetables, whole grains (hello, quinoa!), lean proteins (like chicken and fish) and healthy fats from olive oil, etc. Just about anyone will feel better after adopting this diet and chances are you may even lose a few pounds. If you have diabetes, high cholesterol and/or high blood pressure your doctor has probably already suggested you give it a try.

Ready to start eating more healthfully? Make an appointment today with a registered dietitian to discuss setting up a healthy eating plan that is best for you.

Need help finding a dietician? If you are in the Los Angeles area and are looking for exceptional care from some of the top dieticians in the world, be sure to schedule an appointment by calling (800) USC-CARE (800–872–2273) or by visiting

By Anne Fritz