‘Detoxes’are pointless, deceptive and downright dangerous
Are you thinking of going on a detox diet to lose weight in time for the flurry of parties and picture taking these holidays? Or will you be going on a detox regimen to ‘cleanse’ yourself after the holiday food binge? If these are your plans, think again.
Most detox diets and regimens are elaborate hoaxes, health experts warn yet again, almost 10 years after sounding the first alarm.
Over the past decade, ‘detoxes’ have grown from obscure alternative treatments into a multibillion-dollar industry promoted by celebrities like Beyonce Knowles, Angelina Jolie and Demi Moore.
Beyonce Knowles attributed her 20-pound weight loss for the movie “Dreamgirls” to the Master Cleanse—a starvation diet that has adherents eating nothing for 10 days, except for a concoction of lemon juice, maple syrup, water and cayenne pepper, as well as salt water and a laxative tea.
Even Prince Charles has joined the bandwagon, according to new reports, by marketing a Duchy Originals herbal ‘detox tincture’ featuring globe artichoke and dandelion.
Examples of detox diets abound. Aside from the Master Cleanse, there’s Fruit Flush, 21 Pounds in 21 Days, Juice Fasts and Raw Diets. A Google search for ‘detox diet’ brings up at least 16 million results.
Detox diets are popular because they make two claims widely sought by people today: rapid weight loss and the quick, easy and effortless restoration of health.
Detoxes are also popular because they latch on to recent trends of achieving health holistically, or in a more natural and environmentally friendly way.
Detox regimens also tap into growing concerns over toxins, pollution and other perils of modern life, taking advantage of these fears and a general lack of understanding of these issues.
Detox proponents claim that the body is under constant attack from smog, pesticides, artificial sweeteners, sugar, alcohol and other ‘toxins’. They claim that, without periodic cleansings, these poisons accumulate in the body and cause headaches, fatigue and all sorts of chronic diseases.
The idea behind these detoxes, which can last anywhere from three days to about a month, is to rid the body of these toxins absorbed from the environment and from eating less-than-healthy foods. Cleansing is also supposed to leave adherents feeling energized.
Popular detox diets—which restrict all solid foods and instruct dieters to survive on only low-calorie beverages for days at a time—promise to purge excess fat, flush poisons, clear complexion and bolster the immune system.
Other detox treatments, like ionic food detoxes, detox body wrap, detox facials and detox massages, among others, claim to cure a range of vague ailments, such as tiredness, headaches, bloating, back pain and skin problems, by cleansing the body’s blood and organs of a jumble of accumulated ‘toxic’ chemicals.
Marketing nonsense, flawed science
But do you really need to rid your body of dietary ‘poisons’? Do your colon, liver, and lymph nodes need to be flushed and cleaned?
No, says Dr. David Bender, a professor of nutritional biochemistry at the University College London, who lambasted detox diets and treatments in an article, The Detox Delusion, published in the British Society of Biology’s The Biologist journal.
“The term ‘detox’ has gone from describing a chemical reaction involved in the production of urine to a meaningless marketing term,” he says in the article, which takes apart claims made by marketers of detox diets.
And while ads for detox products spout a lot of scientific jargon aimed to bamboozle consumers into buying these, Dr. Bender says that in terms of human biology, the idea of ‘detoxing’ is absurd.