Do detox diets and teas really work?

November 23, 2019 Providence Nutrition Team

Don’t believe everything you hear about this restrictive, potentially dangerous diet trend.

  • You don’t need a special diet to detox because your body does it naturally.
  • Detox diets and teas may bring unwanted side effects.
  • Repeated use of detox diets and teas can have serious consequences for your health.

[3 MIN READ]

The holiday season is just around the corner, which means holiday parties, holiday clothes and holiday calories are on their way as well. If you’re like a lot of women, your calendar during the fall and winter months is filled to the brim with special events, occasions and celebrations—many of which revolve around food. The assault on your waistband can be hard to take.

You might be tempted to take a pre-emptive strike against the annual calorie fest by dieting in advance. After all, if you lose some pounds before the holiday season officially begins, maybe you can still fit into last year’s party dress. Or you may be planning a diet for after the holidays. There’s no harm in trying, right?

It depends. If you improve your eating habits overall and focus on lean proteins with lots of fruits and veggies, you’ll have a great healthy start. If you jump on the diet trend bandwagon, use social media as your nutrition expert and severely restrict what you eat and drink, you could see some short-term success. The long-term results are rarely worth their cost to your health.

Following a detox diet or relying on detox tea for the majority of your meals is a prime example of a diet trend that could do more harm than good.

Following a detox diet or relying on detox tea for the majority of your meals is a prime example of a diet trend that could do more harm than good. Here are five things every woman should know before jumping head first into a detox diet or buying a case of the latest detox tea.

They aren't needed

Your body naturally eliminates toxins and waste. It’s actually pretty good at it. Among other things, your skin provides an effective barrier, your intestines expel waste and harmful organisms and your kidneys and liver filter out toxic substances. There is no scientific evidence that indicates you need a special detox diet or tea to improve your body’s natural detox process.  Drinking plain old water can flush out many of the toxins in your system.

There is no scientific evidence that indicates you need a special detox diet or tea to improve your body’s natural detox process.  

Check out this humorous video from Lisa Malambri (@lisamalambri on Instagram) on the detoxing craze for more information.

They may not be safe

The Food and Drug Administration has taken action against several companies that sell detox products because they were:

  • Found to contain potentially harmful or illegal ingredients
  • Marketed using false claims they could treat serious illness
  • Promoted for unapproved uses, like colon cleansing

If sold as dietary supplements, detox teas are not regulated by the FDA and may be manufactured with no quality control or oversight of the process and ingredients.

Even products that use high-quality ingredients are suspect. Many of the juices used in detox teas are unpasteurized and may contain harmful bacteria that can make you ill. If sold as dietary supplements, detox teas are not regulated by the FDA and may be manufactured with no quality control or oversight of the process and ingredients. Detox diet plans ignore accepted nutritional requirements and often make health claims that have no basis in fact.

They could have unwanted side effects

Many detox teas contain caffeine and diuretics, which can greatly affect how often you use the bathroom. If you’re not careful, it’s easy to get dehydrated or reliant on the laxatives contained in many of the most popular concoctions.

Cramps, bloating, abdominal pain and gas are routinely considered part of the detox process. Excessive caffeine may seem to give you more energy in the short term, but it can also disrupt your sleep, increase your heart and breathing rates and cause anxiety, agitation and headaches.

They’re not effective long-term for maintaining a healthy weight

A few days of a liquid-only, special tea diet may help you lose a few pounds and feel trimmer, but it won’t provide long-lasting weight loss. Most of what you’ll lose is water and muscle mass and that will likely come back as soon as you return to your regular eating habits. Over time, using this method can slow your metabolism, which makes it more difficult to lose weight in the long run.

Over time, using a detox diet can slow your metabolism, which makes it more difficult to lose weight in the long run.

They could be dangerous

By their nature, detox diets are restrictive with a long list of banned food and drinks. Detox teas cannot take the place of a balanced diet. With repeated use over time, you could experience serious health consequences like malnutrition, sodium and potassium deficiency and electrolyte imbalance.

Some detox practices, like colonic irrigation, are not only unnecessary, they can lead to complications including blood infections, diarrheas and perforated intestines.

Even teas and diets listed as “all natural” are potentially harmful—especially if you overindulge, use products that interact dangerously with each other or have a condition that increases your risk of negative consequences.

The bottom line? A healthy, balanced diet is the best way to lose weight and improve your health—no matter what time of year it is. If you’re committed to detoxing, consider taking a month-long vacation from your favorite alcoholic libations. At the very least, your liver will thank you!

Detox teas and diets don’t come close to meeting your nutritional requirements. At their best you don’t need them and at their worst they can do serious damage to your health. 

Find a doctor

If you’re trying to improve your eating habits, make healthier choices, and upgrade your overall health, talk to your doctor. You can find a Providence nutritionist using our provider directory. Or you can search for a primary care doctor in your area.

Alaska

California

Montana

Oregon

Washington

Share your tips on healthy #weightloss without detoxing and how you #eatclean without with readers @psjh.

Related resources

Detox on your own, using your body's system

Myth busters video: What's the value in detoxing your body?

Keep it colorful: Eating fresh and healthy into fall

This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional’s instructions.

About the Author

We are all about food! The Providence Nutrition Team loves to talk about and share our expertise on how to help you find the right diet, food types and maintenance tactics to help you live life to the fullest...while also enjoying the best foods that mother nature has to offer.

More Content by Providence Nutrition Team
Previous Article
Healthy swaps for holiday favorites
Healthy swaps for holiday favorites

Celebrate the holidays without adding extra pounds. And enjoy a simple sugar cookie recipe using healthy sw...

Next Article
The health benefits of herbs and spices
The health benefits of herbs and spices

Add these four herbs and spices to your kitchen for their great taste — and health benefits.