Subtly starving yourself through a personal deprivation of solid foods is the foundation of most detoxes and cleanses, but do these pseudoscience-backed fad diets really live up to the hype?
The language used to describe detox diets makes them seem like miracle cures for any bodily ailment imaginable: Damaged liver? There’s a cleanse for that. Feeling constipated? There’s a cleanse for that. Fatigued and bloated? There’s a cleanse for that. Studies have, however, delivered mixed results on the effectiveness of any sort of detox. There is little scientific backing supporting the claim that any diet actually rids or “detoxes” the body of harmful toxins or substances. That being said, the kidneys and liver are natural filtering agents that naturally eliminate harmful chemicals or toxins from the body, and ingesting foods that benefit these vital organs can allow the body to run more efficiently and may effectively assist in the removal of harmful waste.
Other detoxes focus on cleaning out the body (particularly the colon), in order to assist with digestion. But even these constipation cleanses are scrutinized by science. According to the Mayo Clinic, flushing out the colon is not medically useful, and may even do more harm than good. Ultimately, detoxes and cleanses can be done over a short period of time with limited risk, but participating in these extreme diets over a long period of time is generally discouraged. And while many cleanses promote a reasonable diet centered on vegetables, some advocate for borderline starvation.
Still, with such a dedicated following, there must be something to these detox diets that science just can’t yet prove (or maybe not). Here are 10 “spring cleaning” detox diets that will wash away winter toxins.