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Detox diets


WebMD Medical Reference
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

Drop a dress size in 10 days, get rid of cellulite forever: these are the sort of claims made by "detoxification" diet plans that have become all the rage. The market is crowded with all sorts of products and plans that are supposed to help purge our bodies of chemicals and toxins, while helping us to lose weight fast.

However, do you really need to rid your body of dietary "poisons"? Do your colon, liver, and lymph nodes need to be flushed and cleaned? Should you try one of these detox diet plans for weight loss and optimal body performance?

According to some doctors and dietitians, the answer is a resounding "no". A day on a detox diet programme probably won't hurt you, but there's little point in following these restrictive diets. They can even do far more harm than good, according to some experts.

What is a "detox" diet?

Many detox diets promote herbs, pills, potions, colonic irrigation, and/or fasts to rid the body of impurities. They also often promise fast weight loss. While this could help shed unwanted kilos, it won’t be because of any medical ‘magic’ but because these plans are extremely low in calories.

Detox diets tend to be extremely restrictive, allowing only unprocessed plant foods, which are supposed to assist the lymph, kidneys, and liver with the detoxification process.

Litres of water or specially formulated drinks containing herbs are generally the only liquids allowed. One plan calls for only liquids, including laxative teas to be consumed for 10 days, without any solids. Coffee, tea, alcohol, processed foods, and animal products are not usually part of any detox diet plans.

Enjoying a plant-based diet is perfectly healthy, but a lot of detox diets go to extremes, experts say. The limited variety of foods and beverages and minimum calories is of concern because it is very difficult to get all the nutrients and energy you need for good health with such restrictive regimes.

These are examples of popular detox diets:

What toxins are the target for detox diets?

The idea for detox diets comes from the concern that toxins are constantly bombarding our bodies. Toxins are chemicals with potentially harmful effects. They may come from many sources, including:


The belief is that the body holds onto toxins in the digestive, lymph, or gastrointestinal system as well as in skin and hair. They can then cause problems such as fatigue, headaches, nausea and a wide range of chronic diseases.

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