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Detoxification (detox) diets are more popular than ever.
These diets claim to clean your blood and eliminate harmful toxins from your body.
However, it is not entirely clear how they do this, what specific compounds they’re supposed to eliminate, and if they even work.
This is a detailed review of detox diets and their health effects.
What Is a Detox?
Detox diets are generally short-term dietary interventions designed to eliminate toxins from your body.
A typical detox diet involves a period of fasting, followed by a strict diet of fruit, vegetables, fruit juices, and water. Sometimes a detox also includes herbs, teas, supplements, and colon cleanses or enemas.
This is claimed to:
– Rest your organs by fasting
– Stimulate your liver to get rid of toxins
– Promote toxin elimination through feces, urine, and sweat
– Improve circulation
– Provide your body with healthy nutrients
Detox therapies are most commonly recommended because of potential exposure to toxic chemicals in the environment or your diet. These include pollutants, synthetic chemicals, heavy metals, and other harmful compounds.
These diets are also claimed to help with various health problems, including obesity, digestive issues, autoimmune diseases, inflammation, allergies, bloating, and chronic fatigue (1).
However, human research on detox diets is lacking, and the handful of studies that exist are significantly flawed (2, 3).
The Most Common Ways to Detox
There are many ways to do a detox diet — ranging from total starvation fasts to simpler food modifications.
Most detox diets involve at least one of the following (1):
– Fasting for 1–3 days.
– Drinking fresh fruit and vegetable juices, smoothies, water, and tea.
– Drinking only specific liquids, such as salted water or lemon juice.
– Eliminating foods high in heavy metals, contaminants, and allergens.
– Taking supplements or herbs.
– Avoiding all allergenic foods, then slowly reintroducing them.
– Using laxatives, colon cleanses, or enemas.
– Exercising regularly.
– Completely eliminating alcohol, coffee, cigarettes, and refined sugar.
Detox diets vary in intensity and duration.