Why Detox Diets Are Toxic For Your Health

Detox dieting makes promises—like rejuvenation, weight loss, and flushing out of toxins—that it can’t keep.

Many fad dieters and even holistic health enthusiasts advocate detoxi without realizing that, like other fad diets, it can provoke you to actually gain weight and in many cases is actually harmful to your health.

Celebrity proponents of various ‘detox diets’

The Detox Diet Appeal

Like with any diet, the (false) promise of weight loss in itself is appeal enough for many individuals to jump on the bandwagon. Detox is a relatively new concept in the United States, and the fact that its basic regimen calls for consumption of nothing but raw fruits and vegetables for 3+ consecutive days prompts many—even those who should know better, like yoga and health food store enthusiasts—to believe that it cannot be harmful.

It seems benign enough. According to one detox diet recipe, breakfast should consist of melon (as much as one can eat); for lunch, one can consume oranges, grapefruit, pineapples, or plums—only one variety, as no mixing of fruits is allowed; and evening meals consist of apples, pears, grapes, or bananas. This is to continue, despite irritability, tiredness, and nausea, for ten days, after which a raw food diet ensues. It seems like a healthy diet for any chimp in a zoo, and aren’t chimps our closest relatives?

Lemon detox diet plan?

Why It’s a Lie

The only weight one loses on a 10-day detox diet such as the one above is water weight and muscle. When the human body doesn’t get as much nutrients as it needs (there is no protein in this diet, for example), it goes into survival mode and begins to eat into muscle for energy rather than fat. This slows your metabolism, making it more difficult to burn calories since the body is trying to conserve what little it’s already getting.

If it’s cleaning you think your body wants, the liver and kidneys do a satisfactory job of it. Sabotaging your diet will only kill good bacteria which fight germs in the stomach and intestines, making your body prone to infections and diseases.

If you feel a good detoxification in order, drink lots of water, stop smoking, and try a new exercise or sport. The endorphins released during exercise—especially new ones, of which we haven’t become bored to tears—mimic the euphoria gained by trying a new diet. American Dietetic Association spokesperson Lona Sandon, R.D., says, “Like other disordered eating habits, [detox dieting] gives people a sense of control.” Fasting in the manner of detoxing actually releases endorphins, too—a natural response to ease the stress of starvation. When the detox diet ends, the dieter usually feels a short period of satisfaction before the crash of moods and an onset of weight gain. This is inevitable, according to Good Houskeeping columnist and former disordered eater Geneen Roth, who declares, “For every diet, there is an equal and opposite binge.”

Rather than setting yourself up for failure with an unhealthy and impossible diet, go for the slow and steady approach in which you can enjoy food and exercise. Make healthy living joyful, not a chore.

Heather is a freelance writer and the resident blogger.


I am a fitness model and health nut! I love to work and have learned from the best in the industry.

8 thoughts on “Why Detox Diets Are Toxic For Your Health

  • December 15, 2010 at 8:33 pm

    I have had success with a raw food detox. This does not involve any fasting, omitting nourishment or anything that makes you feel wierd or bad. It just involves sticking to a plant based diet of fresh, organic whole foods. Fruit vegetable, nuts and seeds, as well as fresh juices and plenty of water.

    Have a healthy day!

  • Pingback: Why Detox Diets Are Toxic For Your Health – Hive Health Media (blog) – Raw Food Confidential- Raw Food Confidential

  • December 8, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    Detox Diets are just a fad I hope goes away soon. I tried one that was an MLM that had me “Cleansing for 2-7 days and all I lost was 9 lbs of muscle and it took me almost 6-8 months to recover from that.

    Clean Eatting is the Only way to “Cleanse your Body” Cut out the Flours, sugars(keep Chocolate), and Alcohol and anything else that does’nt come from the ground. If it comes in a box its garbage!!!

  • December 7, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    Very valuable information and I’m glad you posted it. I didn’t even know about the dangers of detoxification until now. Great article and keep up the good work!

  • December 7, 2010 at 9:17 am

    i like your ideas about detoxification, after all it is all about removing the toxins from our body, why not prevent it from entering in the first place. Stop taking alcohol, smoking and other such stuff, and there will be nothing to detox really…

  • December 7, 2010 at 2:56 am

    Misleading title, but I appreciate its need to be attention grabbing. Regardless, I welcome healthy debate (no pun intended :) because if it encourages people to challenge the standard idea of what’s healthy (the absence of disease) and create their own health protocol, then they are far more likely to reclaim responsibility for their health and become their own health guru and that’s got to be a good thing!

  • December 7, 2010 at 1:55 am

    Sorry I do not agree with your claim that detox diets are toxic. The evidence points to the fact that a properly designed detox diet combined with correct supplement support does in fact reduce the toxic load in the body.

    The New York rescue workers detox program has improved many of their symptoms and many were able to reduce their medication after years of poor health.

    There are many people who will testify that they recovered from life threatening conditions with detox.


  • December 6, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    I am SO glad to see this article! I cringe whenever anyone mentions detox to me. Any eating plan that leaves out entire food groups and makes you feel like crap cannot be healthy!


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