Some people claim that detox drinks help remove toxins from a person’s body and promote weight loss. Typically a person will include detox drinks as part of a detox diet. However, there is very little evidence that these types of drinks and diet have any detoxification effects.
Detoxification does have a basis in medical science. Doctors will often use it when a person has an addiction to certain drugs that are causing them harm.
In this context, detoxification refers to the medically supported management of a person experiencing acute intoxication. The detoxification also assists with any withdrawal symptoms a person might experiences when they are trying to stop taking the drugs to which they have an addiction.
The use of the word detox is not always appropriate. Detox drinks may boost health, aid in weight loss, and support the body’s natural detoxification processes, but this is different from medical detoxification.
Does detox actually work?
An article in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics notes that some studies show that commercially available detox diets may improve the way a person’s liver removes toxins from their body. However, the article also highlights that these studies had flawed methodologies and small sample sizes.
A study in the journal Current Gastroenterology Reports found that a detox diet may help a person lose weight, but only because the diet is low in calories.
Further, the authors note that diets that help a person lose weight by significantly reducing the number of calories they consume are unsustainable. Typically, people who undertake such calorie-restrictive diets put the weight back in the medium-to-long term.
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) point out that as well as causing problems with a person’s weight in the mid-to-long term, a person on a detox diet may not be getting the nutrition they require to keep their body healthy
Are detox drinks bad?
Although they do not detox in the medical sense, detox drinks can be healthful.
According to the Office for Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, three-quarters of people in the United States do not consume enough fruit and vegetables. Consuming drinks containing fruits and vegetables as part of a balanced diet may be a good way of helping a person get the nutrition they need.
However, perhaps a better description of these drinks is a healthful drink or a smoothie.
Typically, people use a food processor to turn raw ingredients into a smoothie. As well as being a convenient way to consume fruits and vegetables, using fresh ingredients preserves the fiber in fruits and vegetables, which the juice alone lacks.
The Food and Nutrition Service recognise that smoothies can play a part in child nutrition programs, which aim to help children maintain a healthful diet.
How healthful a smoothie is will depend on the ingredients.
For example, a lemonade cleanse detox drink, containing lemon juice, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper, sounds healthful, but it contains relatively few nutrients and is high in sugar, which most people should try to reduce.
Below, are some examples of smoothies or drinks that are more beneficial for a person to drink.
A green smoothie, containing carrots, kale, celery, beets, turnip, spinach, cabbage, parsley, or cloves, will contain lots of nutrients but little sugar, salt, and fat.
Some people may find certain combinations of ingredients in green smoothies a little overpowering. Following well-reviewed recipes online can be a good way to find a combination of ingredients that tastes good while also being rich in nutrients.
Fruits are relatively high in sugar, so fruit-based smoothies will usually taste great. However, because they contain lots of sugar, people should drink fruit smoothies in moderation.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the fruits in a smoothie will contain more fiber than drinking just the juice of a fruit. USDA also note that most people in the U.S. do not consume enough fiber.
A person can include protein into the fruit smoothie by adding yogurt. Greek yogurt, for example, contains around 9 grams (g) of protein per 100 g.
Many people combine fruits and vegetables in their smoothies. This can be an excellent way of making vegetable smoothies taste good, while not overloading a fruit smoothie with too much sugar.
Some people add seeds and nuts, which are a great source of protein, fiber, and various other essential nutrients, to combination smoothies. Try adding flax or chia seed to boost omega 3 content.
A person can also add oats or protein and fiber and to help thicken a smoothie. People can experiment with the ingredients to find the recipe that suits them best.
There is little scientific evidence to support claims that detox drinks can help remove toxins from the body. However, a detox drink may be a healthful drink if it contains plenty of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. A diet rich in fruits, veggies, healthful proteins, fats, and fibrous carbohydrates promotes the natural detoxification system in the body and creates overall balance.
Drinking nutrient-dense smoothies can be a tasty and convenient part of a healthful diet. They can help a person consume more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.