Detox Myth

Have you done your post Christmas detox? A detox is promoted as an antidote for our over indulgences over the holiday period.  In our quick fix society, a detox seems like a great way to undo these over indulgences.   Since the start of the new year I’ve been seeing various articles such as “5 ways to detox”.  Now these are usually accompanied by a picture of a green sludge drink. Yuk!  A detox diet will promise all kinds of results to improve your health and energy levels.

This prompted me to search “detox” and “cleaning diets” on Google.  Combined, these searches yielded over 3 million websites!  I also searched a range of scientific journal articles too, but surprisingly I was unable to find studies supporting the notion of our need to detox.   In medical terms to detox refers to the treatments for dangerous levels of drugs, alcohol or poisons, like heavy metals.


When doing some detox research, one questions that come to my mind is “what are we actually detoxing?”  If you work in an environment which contains toxins or have under gone medical treatment involving chemical or drugs, then there is probably a need for some detox.  But all advertisements I have seen for a detox diets do not name the toxins we need to remove.

Do you even realise that you are a sophisticated detox system?  Just stop to think for a minute of all the “crap” you put into your body that you know serves no nutritional purpose.  And you are still alive?  Try doing that to a car or any other machine and it won’t last very long!  If the toxins did build up in our bodies as we are lead to believe then, we would not be alive for very long!

The skin, kidneys, lymphatic system, our gastrointestinal system, and most importantly, the liver make up our astoundingly complex and sophisticated intrinsic detoxification system.  The liver is self-cleansing so, toxins don’t accumulate in it, and unless you have documented liver disease, it generally functions without any problem. The kidney excretes waste products into the urine.


“Detox” focuses attention on irrelevant issues, and gives consumers the impression that they can undo lifestyle decisions with quick fixes.   The lifestyle implications of a poor diet, lack of exercise, smoking, lack of sleep, and alcohol or drug use cannot simply be flushed away.

These benefits of a detox program are more likely to be the positive effect of drinking more water, eating less food overall (particularly highly processed foods) and cutting out caffeine and alcohol from their diet.  Basically, reducing the intake of poor nutritional fuel for our bodies, rather than the process of toxin elimination itself.

If you want to experience true energy and vitality, the best approach is to make your regular eating style based on whole plant foods – fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, wholegrain breads and cereals – and low-fat dairy and/or soy products.

Combine that with physical activity, plenty of water, fresh air, adequate sleep, relaxation and quality time with others, and you’ll be well on your way to experiencing a happy and healthy life.  I would imagine you might save yourself a bit of money too!