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Detox Diets - Fact or Fraud?

‘Detox’ is one of the most controversial words in the world of diet and health. It’s also one of the most-searched terms after the Christmas holiday season (no prizes for guessing why!). On the one hand, we hear amazing claims that these types of diets get rid of toxins and rejuvenate the body, but on the other, some experts insist that detox diets don’t work. So, what are the facts? Well, as with many questions like this, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

First off, one thing we must ask is, ‘how are we defining “detox”’? I suppose the obvious answer is removing unwanted toxins from the body – a “toxin” being any substance which can compromise health., This definition is a bit problematic though, as “toxins” are only “toxic” if enough are present. Even oxygen and some vitamins are toxic at certain levels (although having none is toxic too). So, it’s the unwanted “excess” toxins we should be concerned with. 

If we accept this definition, we should focus on the liver and fat cells. Several organs help to rid the body of toxins but the liver does most of the heavy lifting. It is the organ that gets overwhelmed, fills with fatty tissue and begins to malfunction if the body is exposed to too many toxins. The two main toxins, which have this effect, are alcohol and excess calories. This may surprise you but eating too many calories is now the number one cause of liver disease, more so than alcohol. There’s even a name for it: non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

But before we discuss that, let’s look at what doesn’t help with detoxing. Most of these diets insist upon eliminating things like coffee, meat and dairy. This won’t help. In fact, it is probably more likely to harm! The elimination of coffee is a particularly poor recommendation, as a large and growing body of evidence shows that several cups a day is associated with less disease, better liver health and even improvements to the health of those with liver disease. Milk contains whey protein, which is a great source of amino acids used by the liver to produce glutathione – an important antioxidant which protects it from harm, which allows it to do its job of detoxification better. Oh, and another standard recommendation of detox diets is to eliminate meat. Well, just a one-third reduction in protein intake rapidly reduces glutathione – so probably a bad idea if you’re looking to get rid of toxins. 

So, it seems most detox diets are designed by people with little expertise in the science of nutrition. That doesn’t mean though, that there aren’t legitimate ways to ensure your body is best able to reduce toxins. An intelligent weight-loss diet, on its own, reduces toxins because much of the toxins in our body are found in fat cells. Reducing fat cells specifically from the liver, as already mentioned, improves the ability of that organ to break down and detoxify unwanted substances. 

Recently, another process of detoxification has emerged as one of the most exciting areas of study amongst health and life-extension scientists. This process is called autophagy. It has been described as a kind of housekeeping process that eliminates old and decrepit cells and helps regenerate and rejuvenate the body. The great news is that low and very-low calorie diets, like The 1:1 Diet, stimulate this process, so ours is one diet that legitimately could be described as “detox”. As you can see, we’ve got so much more going for us than just weight loss shakes. For instance, if you put on a few too many Xmas pounds, you can also try our 30-day challenge, which has had some outstanding weight loss results!