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"The idea that 'detox' regimes will help your body rid itself of 'toxins' is nothing more than a marketing invention." Article by Ben Goldacre, MD, Sunday Times (18th January 2009)
"What the marketers of detox products have done is made the term 'detox' meaningless — actually the term now is nothing but a red flag for snake oil." Article by Steven Novella, MD, Neurologica Blog (6th January 2009)
"A woman has been awarded more than £800,000 after she suffered permanent brain damage while on a detox diet…..Detox diets are based on the theory that toxins from "unhealthy" food and drink build up in the body and can lead to health problems. Purging those toxins — through restricted diets, lots of water or using particular supplements — is meant to leave people feeling better and, often, thinner. But critics disagree with the principle. Dr Andrew Wadge, of the Food Standards Agency, has branded detox regimes "nonsense" and said the body has its own system of getting rid of toxins — the liver. Dieticians are regulated by law in the UK, but nutritionists and nutritional therapists are not. Catherine Collins, chief dietician at St George's Hospital in Tooting, told the BBC: "As a dietician I frequently see people who have been given the wrong information by nutritionists or nutritional therapists and we deal with the consequences," she said." BBC News (3rd July 2008)
The Master Cleanse or Lemon Detox Diet, Fat Flush, 21 Pounds in 21 Days, the Liver Detox Diet … these are just a few of the so-called "detoxification" diet plans that have become all the rage. Holistic healers and diet gurus are pushing all sorts of products and regimens that are supposed to help purge our bodies of chemicals and toxins, while helping us to lose weight -- fast! But do you really need to rid your body of dietary "poisons"? Do your colon, liver, and lymph nodes need to be flushed and cleaned? And should you try one of these detox diet plans for weight loss and optimal body performance? According to doctors and registered dietitians who spoke to WebMD, the answer is a resounding "no." Article by Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD — Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD, WebMD Feature (2nd July 2008)
Two-page article taking a critical look at detox kits and cleansing diets. The Calgary Herald (26th March 2008)
Critical evaluations of detox products including electrical foot baths, Kinoki foot pads, and bowel cleansing pills (said to be herbal, and which cause the intestines to produce long, rubbery, bowel movements which is claimed to be 'mucoid plaque'). Skeptoid Podcast transcript (15th January 2008)
Andrew Wadge, Chief Scientist, Food Standards Agency, UK, says the best thing to do is drink one or two glasses of water, get some exercise, and then enjoy home cooked meals. He adds that tap water (in the UK) is fine and is more sustainable than bottled water. Wadge also explains that the human body has its own very efficient detox mechanism — the liver." Medical News Today (29th December 2007)
Article by Susan Moores, R.D., nutrition consultant and spokesperson for The American Dietetic Association, MSNBC News (18th May 2007)
Two student medical doctors spend a week on a detox diet and conclude that the benefits do not offset the effort required. Tarig Babiker and Alexander Hamilton, Student BMJ (October 2006)
Detox Diets Report: Do detox diets work? Are they good for you? Dietitian Juliette Kellow investigates detox and concludes that there is no good evidence that a detox diet is necessary or actually works. Weight Loss Resources (25th April 2006)
"Detoxification, or detox, diets are touted by many as a way to remove 'toxins' form the body. This practice stems from the belief that the food you consume contains a range of harmful substances which accumulate in your body, causing fatigue, headaches, nausea and even disease. But there is no evidence that his is true or that detox diets have any health benefits. Also, in some cases, detox diets can have harmful side effects…..The best diet is one based on fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean sources of protein and unsaturated fats. Add regular exercise and stress reduction techniques, and you have a solid foundation for good health." Jennifer K. Nelson, Registered Dietitian, Mayo Clinic (11th April 2006)
Details of the BBC1 Real Story programme 'Doctors on a Detox' which looked at the medical claims made by several products, including Gillian McKeith's 24 Hour Detox. The marketing of detox products is to be investigated by the UK government — the Medical Health Care Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is reported to be taking action based on the investigations made by the programme. BBC News (27th March 2006)
"Most of the pills, juices, teas and oils that are sold for their detoxifying effects on the body have no scientific foundation for their claims, according to toxicologists and dieticians. They will not influence the rate at which the body rids itself of toxins, and any beneficial effects would be matched at much lower cost by drinking plenty of tap water, eating fruit and vegetables and getting a few early nights. The entire market for detox products, which is worth tens of millions of pounds a year, rests on myths about the human body that are hitting consumers in the wallet…" Mark Henderson, Science Correspondent and Fran Yeoman, The Times Online (3rd January 2006) NOTE: Several well-known detox products come under scrutiny in this article.
Scientists say drop 'detox', have a glass of water and get an early night: "Our bodies have their own 'detox' mechanisms. The gut prevents bacteria and many toxins from entering the body. When harmful chemicals do enter the body, the liver acts as an extraordinary chemical factory, usually combining them with its own chemicals to make a water soluble compound that can be excreted by the kidneys. The body thus detoxifies itself. The body is re-hydrated with ordinary tap water. It is refreshed with a good night's sleep. These processes do not occur more effectively as a result of taking 'detox' tablets, wearing 'detox' socks, having a 'detox' body wrap, eating Nettle Root extract, drinking herbal infusions or 'oxygenated' water, following a special 'detox' diet, or using any of the other products and rituals that are promoted. They waste money and sow confusion about how our bodies, nutrition and chemistry actually work." Includes a summary of scientists' views on detox. Sense About Science (3rd January 2006) NOTE: Read more about chemical scientists' criticisms of the detox industry in the January 2006 report 'Making Sense of Chemical Stories' [see link immediately below].
"Detox diets do no more than the body's own natural system to get rid of toxins, US researchers claim." BBC News (7th June 2005) [See link immediately below to read the research]
"Detox approaches generally focus on but restrict fruit and vegetable intake, prohibit animal protein consumption, and promote the intake of extracts and unorthodox recipes. These approaches are contrary to scientific consensus and medical evidence and are not consistent with the principle that diets should reflect balance, moderation, and variety. The scientific basis for these kinds of stringent diets is lacking, and adherence to these regimens may mask clinical presentation or delay diagnosis of a health-compromising illness." Roger Clemens, Dr.P.H., Director, Analytical Research Professor, Molecular Pharmacology and Toxicology, USC School of Pharmacy, Los Angeles, Calif., and Peter Pressman, M.D., Internal Medicine, Geller, Rudnick, Bush and Bamberger, Berverly Hills, Calif., Food Technology (May 2005) [pdf]
"Like many other fad diets, detox diets can have harmful side effects, especially for teens… Lots of claims are made about what a detox diet can do for you, from preventing and curing disease to giving you more energy to making you more focused and clear-headed. Of course, anyone who goes on a low-fat, high-fiber diet is probably going to feel more healthy, but proponents of detox diets claim that this is because of the elimination of toxins, as opposed to carrying around less excess weight or having a healthier heart. However, there's no scientific proof that these diets help rid the body of toxins faster or that the elimination of toxins will make you a healthier, more energetic person." This article, written specifically for teenagers, includes links explaining the functions of the rectum and the colon; advice from a medical doctor and a registered dietician about herbal dietary supplements (and why to be wary of them); and information on eating disorders, nicotine and alcohol. Article reviewed by Jessica R. Donze, RD, and Susan Konek, RD, Teens Health (April 2003)