December 2021

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Health Capsule

Do Detox Diets and Cleanses Work?

Are you thinking of trying a “detox” or cleanse? They claim to help you lose weight or rid your body of toxins. After a winter of holiday eating, they might seem like a way to kickstart better habits in the new year. But are these trendy programs and products healthy or just a bunch of hype?

“Detoxes” aren’t all the same. Some involve fasting, followed by eating only certain foods. You may be limited to drinking only juices or liquids. Some include dietary supplements or herbs. They can involve cleansing the colon, or lower intestinal tract, with enemas and laxatives.

Are they effective? There aren’t many high-quality studies of detox programs and cleanses. In 2015, a team of experts concluded that results so far don’t support the use of detox diets for weight loss or removing toxins. Another group found that juicing and “detox” diets are probably just a short-term fix. There may be early weight loss because you start out consuming fewer calories. But detox diets tend to lead to weight gain once you resume a normal diet.

Detox diets can also have risks. The FDA has charged several companies for selling detox/cleansing products that contain harmful ingredients. Talk with your health care provider if you’re planning on starting a detox diet or cleanse to make sure it’s safe. Learn more about detoxes and cleanses.