June 16, 2021
Cleanses, detoxes and fasting, oh my! You may have heard of these diets that promise a quick way to lose weight, feel great and rid your body of harmful toxins. But do they work, and more importantly, are they safe?
What Are Cleanse and Detox Diets?
Extreme diets can take many forms:
- Juice cleanses: Short-term liquid diets consisting of fruit and vegetable juices and spices that aim to flush the digestive tract of impurities.
- Fasting: Not eating for an extended time to train the body to burn fat cells.
- Detox Diets: Regimens of consuming specific foods or drinks to rid the body of toxins.
Do These Diets Work?
“There is little evidence that these diets successfully remove toxins from the body or provide long-term health benefits,” says James Montgomery, MS, RD, registered dietitian at Jersey Shore University Medical Center. While they may cause some weight loss, these regimens are often unsustainable, so weight can come back quickly. In addition, the Food and Drug Administration does not review cleanse products, so health claims are not verified.
So why do many people who try cleanses and detoxes report losing weight and feeling better? “Many of these diets require the elimination of foods high in sodium, sugar or trans fats. The same health benefits can be seen in people who follow a long-term, well-balanced diet,” James says.
Are They Safe?
Extremely restrictive diets can have negative effects on the body, including:
- Mineral and vitamin deficiencies
- Electrolyte imbalances
People with specific health conditions, such as diabetes, or women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not attempt these diets unless under the close supervision of their doctor. Talk to your doctor before starting a detox or cleanse.
“Overall, healthy habits will help promote liver and kidney health—and they can ‘detox’ your body for you,” James says.
Next Steps & Resources:
The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.