Detoxing is often touted as a quick (albeit quite difficult way – all that self-control! All that hunger!) way to shed kilos and clean out your system. And after the Festive Season, who doesn’t feel like their systems need a good spring clean? But is detoxing the way to go?
They promise to help you shed weight and purge your body of chemicals that are poisoning your body and mind.
But the only thing that detox products will help you lose is money, a scientist said last night. From diets based on raw fruit and vegetables, to foot spas and colonic hydrotherapy, there are dozens of treatments and products that claim to boost health by cleansing the body of chemicals.
Diets based on uncooked fruit and vegetables are among the dozens of treatments claiming to boost health by cleansing the body of chemicals. Marketing is likely to become particularly fierce in the next few weeks, as millions who over-indulge during the Christmas period make New Year’s resolutions to be healthier. But detox diets and other treatments are not the answer, an expert has warned.
David Bender, an emeritus professor of nutritional biochemistry, said the body is perfectly capable of detoxing itself without any extra help. What is more, he says, the claims made about detoxing are at best unfounded and more likely undeniably false. Some detox methods may even be dangerous, he claims.
In an article written in Society of Biology magazine The Biologist, he argues that the term detox has gone from being applied to a chemical reaction involved in the production of urine, to ‘a meaningless marketing term’. His piece, entitled The Detox Delusion, picks apart the claims made by those promoting detox diets.
Such diets usually involve eating large amounts of fruit, vegetables and juices, while drinking large amounts of water and steering clear of caffeine, sugar and alcohol.
They purport to boost health in a variety of ways, from raising energy levels to allowing the body to focus on self-healing. Professor Bender, of University College, London, writes: ‘I am not sure what "self-healing" is and the idea of "raised energy levels" is nonsense. The whole philosophy of detox is based on the unlikely premise that accumulated toxins cause a sluggish metabolism, weight gain, general malaise and so on. Weight gain is due to an imbalance between food consumption and energy expenditure. There is no magic shortcut for weight loss – you have to eat less and exercise more. It’s that simple.’
Written by Fiona MacRae, this article originally appeared in the Daily Mail