There’s no disputing the fact that medically-prescribed Detox Diet Plans do provide very real and necessary benefits to your health. But the simple fact is that commercially-available Detox Diet Plans, particularly those that come with the promise of weight loss, are nothing but a hoax.
Unfortunately, detoxes are another one of those pervasive gimmicks that sound reasonable enough on paper to fall for. And to make matters worse, they can even successfully con the unsuspecting user into believing that they actually work for weight loss as well.
Let’s take a closer look at what Detox Diet Plans are all about, and what they really can and can’t do for you.
What are Detox Diet Plans, Anyhow?
Well, Detox Diet Plans are basically diets, or modifications to your diet, that are intended to rid your body of harmful, unhealthy toxins. These toxins are things like chemicals, bacteria, partially-digested food that’s stuck somewhere in your digestive tract, and other substances, which are believed to be in some way damaging to your health.
Commercially-available products are often marketed as targeting specific organs of your body, such as fiber supplements for your colon, juices for your kidneys, lemon or grapefruit juice for your liver, or specific functions such as weight loss.
Detoxing is usually done in one or more of a variety of ways, such as:
- Avoiding specific foods (eg. fruits, vegetables, fats, carbs, meats, etc.)
- Eating certain foods exclusively (eg. grapefruit, water, vegetables, etc.)
- Colon cleansing
Colon cleansing can be done in two ways. One is by dietary means – by taking things like dietary fiber and other supplements, herbs, or laxatives. And the second is through colon hydrotherapy, also known as colonic irrigation, which involves injecting water into the colon using an enema.
Although colonic irrigation techniques obviously can’t exactly be classified as Detox Diet Plans, I’ll include them in the discussion in this article anyhow, since they’re all basically trying to achieve the same thing.
Detox Diet Plans and Your Health
The whole idea of cleansing your body of toxins that are harmful to your health actually started with the ancient Romans and Greeks. However, detoxification was abandoned by modern medicine way back in the early 20th century. Even so, for some reason the idea has still managed to persist among many practitioners of alternative medicines.
Body cleansing isn’t supported by science in any way, and no one has been able to demonstrate that it produces any real medical benefits whatsoever.
Commercially-available Detox Diet Plans are generally based on questionable or already-disproven scientific claims. The toxins they claim to remove are very often undefined, and they don’t provide any evidence that these toxins even exist in the first place.
Most medical practitioners certainly agree that these so-called toxins don’t in fact exist, and they consider Detox Diet Plans to be hoaxes, used to cure illnesses that don’t exist.
Medical experts believe that detoxification simply isn’t necessary because your body has very sophisticated and versatile detoxification systems that make it naturally capable of maintaining itself, even given the preservatives that our food contains nowadays and the environments we live in.
The same goes for colon cleansing. Supporters of this practice believe that putrefied feces and partially-digested food collects on the walls of the large intestine, and then harbors parasites and bacteria, causing general ill-health. But there’s no scientific evidence to support the supposed benefits of colon cleansing either. The bowel itself isn’t, in fact, dirty and it actually cleans itself naturally, without needing any assistance.
Certain enema preparations have been linked to heart attacks and electrolyte imbalances in the body. Detox Diet Plans in general are considered harmless enough, unless they involve dehydration, malnutrition, or require you to use them for a prolonged period of time. All in all, you should consider that any form of cleansing can potentially do you more harm than good.
Medically-Prescribed Detox Diet Plans
So far I’ve talked about commercially-available Detox Diet Plans. I want to draw your attention however, to that fact that dieticians, nutritionists and medical practitioners routinely prescribe detox plans for their patients. These aren’t, however the type that clean your body of so-called toxins, as I’ve been discussing until now.
These are basically alterations to your diet or the purposes of adjusting some imbalance in your body. Some examples might be:
- Cutting out or reducing citrus fruits and tomatoes to reduce acidity
- Cutting out or reducing yeast products to control Candida infections
- Taking probiotic supplements to restore healthy bacteria levels in your gut
These can be short-term fixes to correct existing imbalances or conditions, or they could be longer-term to cater for chronic conditions that can’t be corrected quickly or at all. And they may or may not actually be referred to as detoxes or Detox Diet Plans by the practitioner.
Prescribed by medical or nutritional experts, there’s certainly nothing wrong with these programs. The difference is that these are designed with a specific purpose in mind for your body – they aren’t based on flushing out mysterious, non-descript “toxins”.
Detox Diet Plans For Weight Loss
Detox Diet Plans aimed at weight loss can often involve eating very just a few limited foods – for example, only water or juice. This is essentially a form of fasting. They can also involve cutting certain foods out of your diet altogether – fats, for example.
It’s claimed that this causes your body to burn stored body fats, which allows toxins that were stored in the fat to be released into your blood. These toxins are then supposedly eliminated through your blood, skin, urine, feces and breath. Believers in this idea claim that things like a change in your body odor or the smell of your breath is proof that diets are working.
These claims have been criticized however for misinterpreting what’s actually a process called ketosis. Ketosis is something suffered by users of Low Carb Diet Plans, where your body burns body fat in the presence of insufficient carbohydrates. This is actually closely identified with the bad breath it causes, often referred to as “keto breath”.
But regardless of what claims are made about how you can lose weight through Detox Diet Plans, the simple truth is that no one is overweight because of what’s stuck to their colon wall, or anywhere else in their digestive system for that matter. Going on a 48-hour or 7-day liquid diet just isn’t going to solve your weight loss problem.
Crash diets have never worked, and they never will. The Western world wouldn’t be in the midst of an obesity epidemic if you really could correct a year’s worth of bad eating habits with a 7-day clean-out of your system. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work that way.
Here’s the way it does work when you try to lose weight using Detox Diet Plans:
- You follow your Detox Diet Plan for 48 hours, or 3 days, or 7 days, or whatever’s required.
- You lose anywhere from 0.5kg to 6kg in body weight.
- You’re very happy about this because you don’t realize that only a small fraction of your weight loss is from lost body fat. The majority is lost water, glycogen (stored carbohydrate energy) and muscle – areas where you actually DON’T want to lose weight, if you want it to stay off.
- You also don’t realize that because you’ve starved yourself and lost some muscle, your metabolism is now slower than it used to be, especially in the case of longer detoxes.
- Patting yourself on the back for a job well done, you return to your old eating habits, only to find you put all the weight back on (and sometimes more) within a week or two, thanks to the habits that made you overweight in the first place, as well as your now-slower metabolism.
A real weight loss plan lasts longer than 7 days. It’s for life, not just for a week.
Detox Diet Plans make a lot of promises about making you healthy and losing weight through cleansing, but what needs to be understood is that such short-term strategies are powerless to make any lasting beneficial changes in your body, regardless of how drastic they are.
All they do is risk upsetting the healthy balance and functioning of your body.
Detox Diet Plans in a Nutshell
Although most Detox Diet Plans are considered fairly harmless, I personally don’t see any benefit in shocking your system in such a way and upsetting the normal balance of your body’s own cleaning and digestive process, especially without any valid, scientifically-based reason for doing so.
No good can come of it.
When you think about it, the principle is almost the dietary equivalent of the electrical shock treatment that was used for correcting mental disorders many years ago. But of course, it’s not quite that gruesome.
Having tried many detoxes myself over the years, I can vouch for the fact that none of the Detox Diet Plans I used ever made any change in my body lasting more than a week or two. And quite often these are also quite expensive. So they’ve always just been a waste of time and money.
A large majority of the improvements in health that users of Detox Diet Plans sense are actually purely psychological.
They experience what’s called the Placebo effect. The Placebo effect is an imagined improvement or change in a condition that seems quite real, but is actually only real in the mind because the user’s expecting a particular result.
This effect is so powerful in fact that whenever tests are done on new drugs and treatments, a number of test subjects are always given placebos – fake samples that actually do nothing, so that any imagined changes can be factored in. This is simply standard testing procedure.
So by creating an expectation of having a clean, healthy digestive system that makes you feel great, marketers of Detox Diet Plans can not only convince you to buy their product, but also that it really does make you feel better once you’ve used it. And of course when you add testimonials from people who have experienced so-called improvements in the past themselves, the whole cycle of promotion continues.
It’s not hard to see then how the popularity of such programs manage to survive.
I’m in no way against alternative medicines, in fact I think that mainstream medicine has a lot to learn in that regard, but I do believe that there are a large number of alternative medicine treatments out there today that survive purely through this placebo effect.
With regards to Detox Diet Plans for weight loss, users can similarly get fooled into believing that they work because of the substantial, unhealthy loss of fluids they can produce.
Remember – the only real weight loss is fat loss. And no amount of cleansing will make your body fat disappear into thin air.
Detox Diet Plans and Advertising
Earlier this year a TV ad was aired very aggressively in Sydney for a new 48-hour detox program. I was understandably shocked at the outrageous claims the ad made:
- Kilos of fat being shed in 48 hours
- People experiencing permanent weight loss
- Women dropping 3 or 4 dress sizes in 2 days
and so on.
The lies were very blatant and the testimonials were clearly all manufactured.
When the TV ad then suddenly disappeared two or three months later, I suspected that it was forced from the air on legal grounds.
Sure enough, a new ad appeared for the same product a month or two later, in a very much toned-down format. This ad made no mention whatsoever about fat loss or weight loss – the most powerful claim was that it reduced bloating and “belly bulge”.
And interestingly enough, none of the original testimonials reappeared on the new ad. New ones were used this time around – and of course, they too were toned down.
After several months, this new ad predictably died a natural death, and slowly disappeared from television. Obviously it wasn’t captivating enough to be financially self-sustaining.
But the damage was already done for people who had spent their money.
It’s important to be aware that in the weight loss industry (as well as many others, of course), this practice of stepping over the line legally is quite common – because it pays. The vast amounts of money the original, fraudulent detox plan TV ad would have raked in would easily have compensated for any fines imposed on the promoters of the program (if, in fact, they were even fined) many times over.
It’s simply good business for them. The money generated from stepping outside the rules is a much greater incentive than the consequences they have to face as a result.
The only people who really suffer from these practices are you and I – the unsuspecting public.
Of course, not all marketers are as blatant as those from this example. Most promoters of Detox Diet Plans and other ineffective weight loss products are normally a lot more elegant. They don’t always actually resort to blatant lies and to win you in, but do so by misleading you from within the rules.
The important lesson to take away is that you need to be very much on your guard against what marketers of Detox Diet Plans, and weight loss programs and products in general, tell you.
Sometimes they can go to quite extreme lengths to deceive you.