Obesity Fad Diets Detox Cleanse

A detox cleanse diet claims to remove toxins from the body. The use of detox cleanses by celebrities has made these a popular type of weight-loss diet. Little scientific evidence supports the theories behind detox cleanse diets, however, and a weight-loss detox is not a wise choice for anyone seeking permanent weight loss.

The Detox Cleanse Theory

The human body has a built in purification system. The kidneys, liver, colon and skin remove toxins and waste products. Detox cleanse diet advocates believe that the body needs help with this process, and that it’s necessary to periodically cleanse the body through fasting, restrictive eating, enemas and laxatives.

A Typical Weight-Loss Detox

Most detox weight-loss diets begin with a fast. Some versions of the detox cleanse advocate only drinking water during the fast, while others suggest drinking only fruit juice. The fasting portion of a detox cleanse usually only lasts a day or two.

After the fasting portion of the cleanse diet, a strict diet follows for several days. The diet cleanse may allow raw unprocessed foods, raw vegetables, fruit, fruit juice and water, while the following are usually avoided:

  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Drugs
  • Processed foods
  • Tobacco.

The detox cleanse may recommend specific herbs, teas or supplements, many of which have laxative properties and flush water out of the system. Some weight-loss detox programs also recommend enemas to cleanse the colon and rectum.

Detox Cleanse Complications

Perhaps the biggest problem with a detox cleanse is that the diet does not work, at least over the long-term. Any weight loss seen is due to fluid loss, especially if laxatives are used. Once the detox cleanse ends, fluid is regained, and as the body re-hydrates, weight is quickly regained.

Fluid loss due to laxative use can lead to dehydration, which can cause headaches, dizziness and fatigue, as well as mineral imbalances. Laxatives also increase bathroom use, which can cause redness and skin irritation.

People with health conditions should check with their doctors before attempting a detox cleanse. Weight-loss detox diets aren’t recommended for people with diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease or eating disorders. A detox cleanse also interferes with the nutrients that teens, growing children and pregnant or nursing women need.

Regular use of detox cleanse diets isn’t recommended. Fasting is, at its most basic level, a period of self-imposed starvation. Repeated use of detox weight loss diets increases the risk of malnutrition and gastrointestinal problems, particularly if the diet includes laxatives.

While a detox cleanse claims to purify a person’s system, cleansing diets pose some serious health risks. Losing weight with healthy eating and regular exercise has longer-lasting results than a week of quick fix fasting.


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Moores. S. (2007). Experts warn of detox diet dangers. Retrieved May 31, 2010, from http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18595886/.

Zeratsky, K. (2010). Do detox diets offer any health benefits? Retrieved May 31, 2010, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/detox-diets/an01334.

Nemours Foundation Staff. (2009). Are detox diets safe? Retrieved May 31, 2010, from http://kidshealth.org/teen/food_fitness/dieting/detox_diets.html#.