The Truth About Detoxification (Detox)

Detoxification is a fad that has been around for a while, which purports to cleanse and rid the body of various toxins accumulated as a result of our diets and lifestyle choices. This practice has been promoted by various public figures, especially in the entertainment sector, who describe it as the magical elixir to their youthful looks. Most detoxification programs involve dietary procedures and processes which are supposed to reinvigorate the system and flush out toxins that have accumulated over time, akin to a hard reboot on a computer system. The question however remains, Do these detoxification programs work?

By definition, detoxification is defined in biology as the metabolic process by which the body changes toxic substances into less toxic and easy to excrete substances. The core organ handling detoxification in the human body is the liver, which breaks down various toxins generated in natural physiological processes within the body. The so called cleansing and detoxification programs on the other hand purport to rid the body of toxins through dietary regimens that involve fasting or feeding solely on one type of food, which is yet to be proven to work scientifically. Let us examine the popular concept of detoxification scientifically, so that you can make an informed decision based on facts, rather than the adverts and promotional lines being peddled in the media.

santa detox

What Are The Toxins That These Detoxification Regimes Purport To Expel?

In the medical sense, detoxification is a process by which drug and substance users are weaned off their addiction while managing the withdrawal symptoms in a scientific manner. The targeted “toxins” in such a case are well known and identifiable, which makes the process straightforward as it aims at eliminating a known target.

Popular detoxification plans and body cleanses on the other hand purport to target a myriad of faceless and nameless toxins. In extreme cases, sugar and fat are named as the targeted toxins, which falls short in the facts department as the two are essential components of the human diet when taken in the correct proportions. The difference between these two concepts is as clear as night and day. While one is a clean cut scientific process with clear goals and targets, the other comes across as being a mere marketing gimmick and fad, meant to entice the general populace into buying into a something that has no dietary, nutritional, scientific or other value to their bodies whatsoever.
In this regard, the popular detox programs and cleanses fall short as they are akin to target practices without targets. In the same way that, shooting aimlessly will not make you a good marksman, taking a detoxification program will not be beneficial to your health and well-being in any way whatsoever. Unless the program is medically certified and meant to rid your body of identifiable drug and chemical substances, avoid the same like a plague.

Does the Human Body Have a Natural Way of Expelling Toxins?

The liver is one of the organs that is basically designed for the purpose of breaking down toxins into substances that can be expelled naturally by the body, the other being the kidney. Unless one of these organs is afflicted by an illness, it performs its functions effectively, and does not need any external assistance.

Any food or drink taken must go through the digestion process, which results in the generation of some toxins that are processed by the liver or the kidney. Whereas detoxification fanatics purport to detoxify the liver itself, they forget that biologically the liver just acts as a processing plant for the toxins generated in the body and not a storage facility. As such, a healthy liver has its own self cleansing mechanism that is not dependent on the diet of the individual involved. Taking a balanced diet that is heavy on fruits and vegetables may be the only assistance that you can give your liver. Anyone else recommending herbs, pills, powders, enemas and various other supplements is just somebody who is out to get your money.

The other body part targeted by detoxification programs and cleanses is the colon. Proponents of these procedures purport to cleanse your gut through various procedures such as irrigation fasting, taking a diet consisting of juice and liquids only, or various other supplements. Unless a doctor prescribes any liquids-only diet after a medical procedure, indulging in the same is only to your own detriment. The colon and the gut generally are an ecosystem of various microscopic organisms that play various important roles in the digestion process. Anything that interferes with this ecosystem is bound to cause an imbalance that will have an impact on the well-being of the individual concerned.

So, do our bodies have a natural way of achieving detoxification? Yes, it does. We have organs such as the liver, kidney and skin that play different but very important roles in the natural body detoxification process. Can you assist this process by way of a diet? Yes you can, but not by buying into one of the various detoxification fads being marketed today. A balanced diet, rich in fiber, vegetables and fruits but incorporating all other food types is the best assistance that you can grant your body.

Do Detoxification Programs Work?

Well, the answer depends on the purpose and goals of the individual. If you embark on a fast for the purpose of losing weight, you are going to lose weight all right, but is it sustainable? You cannot fast forever, and once your fast ends, you will regain all the pounds lost. But what if you were carrying out the detoxification with a goal of getting rid of toxins? Well, what parameters would you use to gauge the success or failure of your detoxification program? Which toxins would you say that you have eliminated successfully thanks to the program? Some of these concoctions even look toxic! See the one below!

green smoothie 2

Any health related or dietary program needs to have clear and measurable goals. Weight loss programs carried out via diet changes have to be sustainable. Detoxification programs on the other hand can only be conducted over short periods of time and cannot be adopted as a lifestyle as they would result in a serious deficiency in certain nutrients.

Anyone who has tried a detoxification program will bear me witness that it is always structured in such a way that the program maintains a monopoly, which they exploit by selling various powders and other supplements. In a way, these programs indeed work! They work to ensure that the pockets of the people running the programme are lined with your hard earned cash, and that of other gullible individuals seeking a shortcut to a healthy lifestyle. To live a healthy life, you need to have a balanced diet, plenty of exercises and moderation when indulging in some pleasures of life such as smoking and taking alcohol. Anyone who states that they have an answer in the form of a detoxification programme is just taking advantage of your desperation to gain financially from your situation.

Are these Programs Worth the Time and Effort?

Most individuals engaged in detoxification programs have never taken time to evaluate the costs and efforts expended in the same. A quick overview of a number of these programs indicate that they need dedication, commitment of time and resources and a steadfast discipline to adhere to the myriad conditions given. A simple change in diet to a healthier and balanced option would take less effort and dedication to adhere to, something that most detoxification fanatics never seem conscious of. A good example of this is the monopoly exercised by those running the various programs when it comes to various supplements needed. Whereas on a normal diet you are free to shop and buy whatever groceries and food items are needed at any place of your choosing, people engaged in detoxification programs have to buy various supplements from a single source, often at an extra cost due to the monopoly.

Are Detoxification Programs Safe?

The safety of the various detoxification programs being marketed has been a point of concern since the rise of detoxification as a health fad. The methods chiefly employed by these programs include fasts, liquids-only diets, enemas, use of laxatives and colonary irrigation, to name but a few. So, are detoxification programs dangerous? They can be, especially the more extreme or restrictive regimens.

The major weakness of detoxification programs is that most of the recommended plans have supplements that are low on both nutrients and calories. For instance, some detox plans eliminate essential nutrients, like protein, which could lead to malnutrition if you detox often. The end result is that an individual is left feeling both weak and hungry, causing a lot of discomfort and pain. In individuals suffering from conditions such as diabetes, such practices are very risky and in extreme circumstances can even turn fatal.


Generally, the safety of a detox program depends on the length of participation and what the particular program involves. In addition, some groups are at special risk from extreme eating plans in general, including pregnant women, children, and people with a weakened immune system or chronic conditions such as heart or kidney disease. They in particular should avoid any type of cleanse, purge, prolonged fast, or otherwise very restrictive diet. All nutrients are valuable to the human body and a deficiency of one nutrient or the other manifests itself in the health of the individual concerned. If unchecked, prolonged deficiencies in nutrients can result in serious health complications such as weakened bones in case of calcium deficiency.

Excessive uptake of water in some cases may result in a dangerous imbalance of electrolytes within the blood such as sodium and potassium. Not only are most detoxification programs of no value health wise, some of them have been proven to be unsafe and dangerous to those involved and thus should be avoided at all costs.

According to Dr. Michael Gershon, a professor of pathology and cell biology at Columbia University in New York, the human body is well equipped to handle and flush out toxins on its own. The main organ that helps in the detoxification process is the liver. Everything you breathe or swallow that is broken down and absorbed into the bloodstream passes through the liver, which is the largest internal organ. The body depends on the liver to regulate, synthesize, store and secrete many important proteins and nutrients and also to purify, transform and clear toxic or unneeded substances, according to the German Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care.

In conclusion, the detoxification programs fad that has been rave for a while now is something that should be given a wide berth by all right thinking members of the society. Despite having no health benefits to write about, it is costly in terms of time and resources needed when engaged in the same, with no guarantee of ever getting returns for the time and efforts expended. Unless the detoxification plan involves healthy eating of unprocessed foods which is indeed beneficial to the body and easy to abide by, you should give all detoxification plans and colonic / intestinal cleanses a very wide berth and totally avoid them altogether.

Not only are they unnecessary and potentially harmful, detox programs are also unscientific as not even a single plan has been certified as beneficial by a competent medical doctor. If you want to live healthy, feed on a proper balanced diet, rich in fruits and vegetables, exercise regularly and consistently, cut down on the intake of tobacco and minimize your alcohol intake. Despite the hype and the excitement surrounding various detoxification programs, they have been found to have no tangible health benefits. Invest in a natural way of maintaining a healthy body and lifestyle, and you will be good to go! I hope that this article has been beneficial and informative to you, and that you finally know the truth about detoxification. The facts are clear, the decision is yours to make.

Leave a Reply