5 Common Detoxing Myths That Diet Culture Keeps Feeding Us

The term "detox" literally means to un-tox or dismiss toxins, which in the health and wellness realm is often promoted through a multitude of means from juice cleanses and only consuming certain items to taking specific ingredients out of your diet for a specific period of time. The thought of having our bodies filled with toxins isn't that appeasing, to say the least. Since the idea of something being toxic, like a toxic relationship or toxic chemical, never seems to denote anything someone would choose to have in their life, why would they have it in their body? Hence, the appeal of detox methods.


The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center explains that there are two primary types of toxins found within the human body, which are called exotoxins and endotoxins. Since the prefix "exo" indicates an outer entity, exotoxins encompass any sort of toxin that reaches the body from external sources such as pollution, free radicals, pesticides on food and in the air, and other environmental components. Conversely, the prefix "endo" signifies that the toxins are coming from within and endotoxins are considered by medical professionals and experts to be the byproducts of the human body, like feces, urine, and lactic acid. Through methods like only consuming liquids such as soups, smoothie, green juice, lemon water, and broth, there are many benefits purported by the wellness industry to help you detoxify your body of both endotoxins and exotoxins, though these methods definitely aren't void of myths. 


Myth: Detoxing through active methods is necessary

Unless your body has succumbed to a major illness or medical condition and your medical team has specifically instructed you to undertake a particular means of detoxification, the simplest answer to the promotion of detox cleanses as helping to rid your body of toxins is that detoxifying your body isn't necessary, reports Self. This is because most people aren't facing medical conditions that would require such extreme dietary changes and the human body can sufficiently rid toxins, both endotoxins and exotoxins, from itself without any additional assistance. In fact, the liver, kidneys, and intestines do a phenomenal job keeping toxins out of the body and ridding harmful invaders, including pathogens, bacteria, viruses, pollutants, and other foreign threats which may enter your body, on its own. Even though we go to sleep every night and take time to recharge, our bodies are working 24/7 and keeping us as healthy as possible around the clock. 


This means that if you're wondering if that expensive juice cleanse you're doing is actually healthy, the answer is that your body is already doing everything on its own without any active assistance. Given that many detox pre-made juice cleanses on the market sell for several hundreds of dollars per day, or thousands of dollars per detox cycle, put your money to better use by investing in quality whole foods, gym memberships, and massages to relax and de-stress — which are all better for your wallet and health. 

Myth: Detoxing makes you healthier or renews your health after illness

Another common myth to be debunked when it comes to detoxing is that the act of engaging in any length of a detox cleanse, whether three days to two weeks, isn't going to have any significant or even moderate benefits to your health. Additionally, detoxes won't help your body cure from having been ill, injured, or undergone a procedure such as a surgery. They may even inhibit your body's natural healing processes in these instances since many detoxes can restrict or deny essential nutrients your body needs to function properly, reports The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Again, unless your doctor has told you to follow a detoxifying diet to heal from a major illness, this is yet another myth spread by companies urging customers to spend exorbitant amounts of money on juice cleanses or social media-promoted broth detoxes. 


Johns Hopkins Medicine reveals that when it comes to detoxes specifically designed, or at least marketed, for ridding the liver of toxins after an over-indulgence in consuming excessive alcohol or going overboard with sugary, fatty, or generally unhealthy foods are equally as inefficient at genuinely ridding any toxins from your liver  on its own. There are some common ingredients in many promoted liver cleanses which do have health benefits on their own, such as the anti-inflammatory capabilities of turmeric. However, you won't help your liver speed along its own natural detoxing. 

Myth: Detoxing results in weight loss that's able to be maintained

The more extreme detox regimens, programs, and products on the market often promise to aid in weight loss, even going as far as guaranteeing that the detox purchase can help to keep weight off permanently. According to Healthline, there is no considerable evidence to substantiate nor support these claims of weight loss detox routines. Instead, these extreme dietary restrictions can cause more danger than benefit overall. It's true that upon taking on a lengthy liquid-based detox regiment like a broth cleanse, multi-week juice-based detox, or cutting out multiple food groups for extended periods of time can result in weight loss during or immediately after the conclusion of the detox, but these results are temporary. They are not sustainable for maintaining the weight loss. Ultimately, this is because most people return to their pre-detox diets after the detoxification program has been completed, but also because majority of the detox products and plans on the market aren't sustainable for the human body in general. They lack essential nutrients and don't provide a well-rounded diet. This can lead to dangerous fluctuation of rapidly losing weight and then regaining it, or create deficiencies of vitamins, nutrients, and other essential elements in a balanced diet. 


Harvard Medical School reveals detoxifying teas and similar products achieve rapid weight loss through producing excessive diarrhea, which is a result of consuming laxatives, salt, and other dehydrating components. Detox concoctions promoting weight loss can lead to dangerous dehydration.

Myth: Detoxing encourages the expulsion of toxins through your sweat

Leaning into the fitness and exercise worlds for busting this myth, many detox promises claim that toxins within your body can be expelled through your sweat. Unfortunately, toxins of any kind are rarely expelled from the human body through sweat as easy as it may be to visualize toxins, pathogens, and unwanted harmful components leaving your body as you sweat. Instead of taking toxins with them when they drip from the body, droplets of sweat are made of a very simple composition that is majority water with varying degrees of salt, reveals Ask The Scientists. And that's about it, good ol' H20. 


Rather than pulling toxins from your body and pushing harmful microscopic entities out, the primary purpose of sweating is to cool itself down when exposed to higher temperatures, excess movement, or fever when ill, according to WebMD. So when you're undergoing an intense workout, you're prone to sweating quite a bit because your body is enacting its natural ability to keep itself cool and maintain a healthy body temperature. Similar to how the body naturally rids itself of endotoxins and exotoxins, you need to give your body the credit it deserves for all of the amazing functions it performs.

Myth: Detoxing can be conducted safely

Not only are most detox methods promoted online or sold as being able to rid toxins from your body just totally ineffective and provide no more toxin-eliminating effects than your body natural conducts, some methods of detoxifying can actually be very dangerous. UChicago Medicine reports that there truly is no way to undertake a marketed detox cleanse or regimen safely as the only means by which you can guarantee safe and effective elimination of toxins from your body is to maintain healthy habits. An important fact to know about detox products is that ones labeled to be natural don't indicate that they're safe, simply that they use natural ingredients. Just like overconsumption, incorrect consumption can be equally dangerous and this extends to natural components. Be mindful that detox concoctions typically aren't regulated. 


For detox cleanses which are rooted in bone broth, juices, or lemon water, among many other liquid-exclusive options, there are dangers to the overconsumption of liquids, particularly water, that can have unrealized negative effects, states The Association of UK Dietitians. Instead of trying a detox cleanses, detox pills, or any other form of detoxifying method, the best route is to keep everything in moderation. You can also seek to maintain a well-rounded lifestyle inclusive of a nutritious diet, healthy sleep and hygiene practices, regular exercise, and the avoidance of any type of overconsumption.