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“Detox”… does it actually flush out toxins and burn fat?

The body can clean itself without a detox diet. However, other aspects of the cleanse may have benefits, including eating whole, nutritious foods, Healthline reports.

Detox diets are more popular than ever. These foods are said to purify the blood and remove harmful toxins from the body.

However, it is not entirely clear how it does this, what specific compounds it removes, and whether it is effective or not.

What is Detox?

Detox diets are usually short-term nutritional interventions designed to remove toxins from the body.

A typical detox diet involves a period of fasting, followed by a strict diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, juices, and water. Sometimes a regimen includes herbs, teas, nutritional supplements, colon cleanses, or enemas.

Proponents of this method say:

It relaxes the organs through fasting

Stimulates the liver to flush out toxins

Promotes the elimination of toxins through stool, urine and sweat

Improves blood circulation

Provides healthy nutrients to the body

Detox treatments are commonly recommended due to potential exposure to toxic chemicals in the environment or in your diet. These include pollutants, synthetic chemicals, heavy metals and other harmful compounds.

These foods support the immune system, digestion, energy levels and weight loss.

However, there is no research on detox diets, and the few studies that do exist are severely flawed, Healthline reported.

The most common methods of poisoning

There are many ways to detoxify your diet, from complete fasting to simple dietary changes.

Most detox diets include any of the following:

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Drink only fruit juices

Use of nutritional supplements

Use enemas or laxatives to clean the colon

Use herbs

Avoid all allergenic foods and then slowly reintroduce them


Detox diets vary in intensity and duration.

What toxins are excreted?

Detox regimens rarely specify the specific toxins they aim to eliminate. The mechanisms by which it works are also unclear.

In fact, there is little evidence that detox diets remove any toxins from your body.

Also, your body can clean itself through your liver, feces, urine, and sweat. The liver neutralizes toxins and ensures that they are then flushed out of your body.

However, there are some chemicals that cannot be easily removed by these physical processes, including persistent organic pollutants (POPs), phthalates, bisphenol A (BPA) and heavy metals.

These accumulate in fatty tissue or blood and it can take a very long time – even years – for your body to get rid of them.

However, these compounds are generally removed from commercial products or their use is restricted today.

Overall, there is little evidence that dietary supplements help eliminate any of these compounds.

How effective are these foods?

Some people report feeling more focused and active during and after detox meals.

However, this improvement in health may be the result of eliminating processed foods, alcohol, and other unhealthy ingredients from your diet.

You can also get vitamins and minerals that you didn't have before.

However, many people also report feeling sick during detox.

Effects on weight loss

Very few scientific studies have looked at how detox diets affect weight loss.

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While some people lose weight quickly, this effect appears to be due to the loss of fluid and carbohydrate stores rather than fat. This weight is usually quickly regained once the cleansing process is over.

An older study from 2015 examined Korean women who experienced weight gain while following a lemon diet. This diet is a mixture of maple or palm syrup and lemon juice for seven days.

Results showed significant reductions in body weight, body mass index, body fat percentage, waist-to-hip ratio, waist circumference, markers of inflammation, insulin resistance, and circulating levels of leptin.

If a detox diet involves strict calorie restriction, it usually results in weight loss and improved metabolic health. However, it is important to remember that this is unlikely to help you maintain your weight in the long term.

Detox diets, intermittent fasting…and stress

Many types of detox diets can have similar effects to short-term or intermittent fasting.

Short-term fasting can improve symptoms of various diseases in some people, including improved leptin and insulin sensitivity.

However, these effects do not apply to everyone. Research shows that detox diets can lead to more stress and overeating.

Potential benefits

Some aspects of a detox diet may have health benefits, including:

Avoid food sources of heavy metals and persistent organic pollutants

Avoid processed foods

Drink lots of water

However, regardless of whether you are in good health or not, these features are generally associated with improved health.

Safety and side effects

Before taking any drug, it is important to consider the possible side effects. Possible drug side effects include:

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Strict calorie restriction

Many detox diets recommend fasting or severely restricting calories. Short-term fasting and low calorie intake can lead to fatigue, irritability and bad breath.

Prolonged fasting can lead to energy, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, electrolyte imbalances and even death.

Colon cleansing methods, sometimes prescribed during the detox process, can cause dehydration, cramping, bloating, nausea and vomiting.

High volume

Some detox diets may carry the risk of overdosing on supplements, laxatives, diuretics, and water. There is a lack of regulation and oversight in the toxic industry, and many toxic foods and supplements have no scientific basis.

In worst cases, detox product ingredient labels can be wrong. It can increase the risk of overdose, which can lead to serious and dangerous consequences.

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