Do detox diets cleanse? Can they make you sicker?

Ryan Andrews

When it comes to cleansing or detoxing, you might be thinking, “Detoxing is hocus pocus! Detox is a brilliant solution! I will feel energized after a good cleansing.” It is very important to know the truth. Purification, it turns out, can not only cleanse us of toxins, it can also exacerbate your diseases.

What is detoxification?

The word “detox” is like the word “moderation”. When it comes to detox, there is no universal definition. Cleansing means different things to different people. My daily diet may seem like a detox to you, while someone else will see it as a toxic diet.

However, detox programs tend to include certain foods, juices, teas, and colon cleanses. Other detox regimes consist solely of food abstention – fasting. The goal of detox is to get rid of toxins. It may seem obvious, but what are toxins?

The liver metabolizes hormones; does this mean hormones are toxic? The brain processes thoughts; does that mean thoughts are toxic? Electromagnetic frequencies come from a mobile phone; Are Cell Phones Toxic? You see this problem.

In the case of drugs, the idea becomes easier to understand and measure. The purpose of post-medication detox regimens is simply to eliminate harmful substances from the body. But …

When we talk about a detox diet, what exactly are we trying to eliminate from the body? Why? Or maybe even measurable?

When it comes to food and nutrition, we cannot eliminate all toxins. Why? Because at some level, almost everything we consume is toxic. Meanwhile, small amounts of specific toxins may actually be good for us, so we probably don’t even need to eliminate them.

In other words, the question is not how can I eliminate all toxins from the body. The more important question is: is this potentially toxic substance harmful? How destructive is its impact? And what can I do?

To clarify, let’s look at a few examples.

Example 1: Alcohol Most people can safely drink one glass of wine with a meal. Alcohol is toxic, but the body can absorb it in small amounts. However, if you try to drink fifteen glasses of wine in an hour, you will end up in the emergency room with alcohol poisoning.

Example 2: Chinese cabbage I know what you’re thinking: everyone knows that alcohol can be toxic! So let’s take a look at what happens when you eat what most people consider healthy: Chinese cabbage.

Along with being high in vitamin A and other important nutrients, Chinese cabbage contains glucosinolates, which have been shown to contribute to thyroid problems.

Most of us can safely eat a cup of raw Chinese cabbage every day. Our bodies will absorb the glucosinolates and we will enjoy the benefits of a plant-based diet. But if we try to eat fifteen cups a day, we may end up with hypothyroidism. Chinese cabbage in these quantities is also toxic!

Example 3: Cookies How about less healthy food? Let’s say cookies. Most of us can safely process the sugar found in just one cookie. But if we eat fifteen in a few minutes, our bodies become overwhelmed and can become toxic (as measured by blood sugar and triglycerides).

Example 4: Grilling Food preparation methods can also increase the toxic effects of food. We’ve all heard about the dangers of grilling. But most of us can absorb the cancer-causing compounds found in a small piece of charred meat. Only people who regularly consume 16 cuts of charred meat need to worry about toxins and cancer in the long run.

Example 5: Vitamin B Now let’s look at a specific vitamin. Most of us can safely take a daily dose of a vitamin. But if we take the fifteen recommended doses, our nervous system and liver function will suffer. The vitamin becomes toxic.

You can guess where I’m going.

Most foods are toxic in one way or another. We cannot avoid it.

However, the body purifies itself. Our main organs of detoxification are the gastrointestinal tract, kidneys, skin, lungs, liver, lymphatic system and respiratory system. These systems convert toxic compounds into other forms that we can eliminate by going to the bathroom, sweating or breathing. And the body does a very good job of doing this in a supportive, healthy environment.

So why do you need a detox program?

If the body is so great at cleaning itself, why would anyone want to detox?

We often interfere with the self-cleansing of our body. We overload our bodies too much every day and don’t always use our bodies correctly.

We abuse drugs. We don’t sleep enough. We smear a thick layer of chemicals on our skin. We don’t get enough physical activity. We abuse alcohol. We smoke. We breathe in smog and ingest other environmental pollutants such as heavy metals. We eat nutrient-poor foods that the body cannot recognize as food. We are overloaded with additives.

What would happen if we tried to change some of these habits and stopped swallowing everything? My intuition tells me that we could reduce the load on our body so that it can devote more energy to recovery, digestion and other processes that help us feel better.

But besides this, there is another reason why people resort to a detox diet – they want to lose weight or saw a celebrity who lost weight and feels great, and want to follow her example.

I apologize in advance if the next sentence sounds like your parents are saying it, but trust me on this one.

Just because other people have cleared doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. In fact, I can say the following with certainty: fat loss detoxification is a bad thing. Any weight loss associated with a dietary detox will return a few hours after the detox ends.

However, there is an important connection between fats and toxins, as fat cells do more than just contain fat. They are also a storage site for certain fat-soluble toxins.

Thus, the more compact you are, the less real estate you have available for toxins. This may help explain why many people feel crappy when they go through a period of rapid fat burning. Since fat-soluble substances can be stored in fat, when fat is broken down, chemicals can enter the bloodstream, contributing to fatigue, muscle pain, even nausea.

Remember the experiment done in Arizona? Environmental pollutants went off scale in some of the participants as they lost weight. They didn’t feel great during this process. This is, of course, food for thought.

Potential Benefits of a Detox Diet

If detox diets aren’t the best way to lose weight, do they have any potential benefits? Yes. This is the addition of nutritious foods to the diet.

Foods and drinks that are typically recommended as part of a detox diet, often rich in nutrients, include: Lemons Green tea Omega-3 fats Colorful fruits and vegetables

All of this obviously helps the body deal with incoming toxins. In particular, glutathione, an important brain detoxifier, can be found in asparagus, spinach, and avocados.

Reduced food load

In addition, most cleansing diets include foods and drinks that rarely cause intolerances or allergies. So, detoxification can be one way to identify food intolerances.

The only problem is that the detox diet is often so restrictive that people cannot follow it for long enough to identify potential culprits.

Finally, a time-limited diet can give you a break from the world of food. Whether you want to focus on spiritual pursuits or take a break from the constant daily worries about nutrition, this can help you.

What are the disadvantages of detox?


Any diet will require some effort to organize, and detox diets are no exception.

People with limited resources, time and money will not be juicing fifteen pounds of organic fruits and vegetables every day. Especially if they feel weak, lethargic, or dizzy, some of the most common side effects of a juice cleanse.

low calorie

Meanwhile, most diets are known for being extremely low in calories. In fact, some people claim that juicing is just a way to starve yourself and feel good about it! Many are limited to such a low calorie content that they will slow down the metabolic processes in your body.


Juice cleansing can become a form of excess, which is kind of ironic when you consider that many people turn to cleansing in search of moderation after a period of permissiveness.

However, it hardly seems like moderation to transfer fifteen pounds of vegetables a day, getting a thick green soup. Can the body process fifteen pounds of raw vegetable juice?

In other words, some of the negative side effects that people usually notice when clearing may be the result of overload. Their bodies are forced to work overtime to deal with harmful cocktails of oxalates, nitrates, etc.


This brings me to one of my own theories. Many people experience headaches when they cleanse with the juice. One reason—the most obvious—is the lack of caffeine.

But even people who aren’t addicted to caffeine can fall prey to headaches. I think it might be related to nitrates. Why?

Well, many juices include high amounts of celery and beets. None of these vegetables are generally eaten in such large quantities; meanwhile, they are rich in nitrates. Nitrates promote vasodilation. Dilated blood vessels can lead to headaches.

Nitrates are not the only problem. Many detox programs rely on freshly squeezed juices. Juice is a processed food. So while we often condemn processing, juicing is actually a form of processing.

fluctuations in blood sugar

In addition, many cleansing diets rely on fruit juices, large amounts of which can cause severe fluctuations in blood sugar levels – making them dangerous for people with diabetes and potentially risky for many others.

Gastrointestinal dysfunction

Fruit juices contain very little fiber. Why is this a problem? Fibers are like detergents. It’s like a broom for the gastrointestinal tract; this slows down digestion and absorption of nutrients.

Again, there is some irony in prescribing a diet that reduces the effectiveness of the body’s natural cleansing!

Protein deficiency

Many cleansing diets are known for being low in protein. A lack of protein can inhibit the body’s ability to eliminate toxins. Yes. You got it right. But wait. Doesn’t that negate the whole point of cleansing?

Restrictive eating and fasting

Detox diets can also contribute to a holiday-or-hungry eating pattern. And this, in turn, can cause gallbladder disease and lead to kidney stones as a result of extreme changes in fat intake.

Perhaps most importantly, cleansing diets can trigger overeating. If the thought of a restrictive diet inspires you and makes you want to overeat, let that be a warning.

The detox diet starts tomorrow, so I’ll be eating a bunch of toxic foods today. This is the classic mentality. But it always does more harm than good.

Juice as a cleanse can only feed the food obsession and distract from making peace with real food and real meals.

And when it comes to colon cleansing (the next step) there are some horror stories associated with it – so if this idea has crossed your mind, beware. Our XNUMX-day cleansing complete with an unscheduled trip to the emergency room

Despite the many disadvantages of cleansing that I have just outlined, in the name of scientific discovery and self-exploration, my wife and I decided to try to clean. I have to admit it got off to a bad start when my wife asked about the budget for the event.

Somewhat embarrassed, I informed her that three days of juice cleansing would cost $180… each. Clap.

Spending that kind of money to not eat for three days is a unique feeling. Maybe I should have taken the money and mailed it to charity. Eh… Or maybe the cost is part of the placebo effect. The thought of spending so much money on three days of juice tepapia made me feel like something bad was going to happen.

Day 1

The first juice contained cucumber, celery, kale, spinach, chard, cilantro, parsley, and sunflower sprouts. It had some protein and very little sugar. It wasn’t a shock to me. I am a fan of leafy greens. My wife, on the other hand, could not hide her doubts; her grimaces after each sip were impressive.

That first day, I started to feel a headache. Regardless of the cause, my headache eventually disappeared, and as I lay in bed at the end of the first day, all I could think about was how hungry I was. At 3 am, at 4 am and at 5 am I woke up hungry. My wife had the same experience.

Day 2

I decided to do a light workout. Soon I began to smell like ammonia. Good old protein breakdown. At the beginning of the day, I began to feel pain in my right lower abdomen. And this continued for the remainder of the cleansing (and for two weeks after that). Toward evening my wife and I felt very chilled.

Day 3

My wife and I woke up tired after two nights of bad sleep. We were grumpy, hungry and cold.

The third night we came out of the cleanse with double cheeseburgers. No, I’m kidding. We ate light soup, salad, rice and beans.

After cleansing

My wife and I have decided that we will never juice cleanse again. If we want to take a break from food, we will limit ourselves to water and tea.

Call me crazy, but I don’t like the idea of ​​spending $60 on juice every day. And high financial costs are not the only difficulty we encountered during the cleansing. I have already mentioned the mysterious pain in the abdomen, because of it I had to see a doctor.

As for my wife, she was very hungry for about five days after the cleansing, and even passed out… and went to the doctor. Seriously! We visited the emergency room twice after a three-day cleanse! Now, whenever something bad happens in our house, we joke, “It’s because of the cleansing.”

Based on what I know about nutrition and the human body, I don’t recommend detox. Detox is not the path to a healthy lifestyle. Instead, most people want to go back to their “normal” toxic lifestyle after detoxing.

We already know that the main dietary toxins in North America include extra calories, processed sugars, fats and salt. Simply eliminating these toxins from the diet could improve our health and well-being.

We can eat better quality food, as fresh as possible, paying attention to body signals, and not overeat. We don’t need magical juice cleansing.  


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