LifestyleNutrition The Science Behind Detox Drinks

What are Detox Drinks?

Detox drinks and diets advertise their product will help you lose weight, cut cravings, eliminate toxins, and boost metabolism, but the drinks never produce these impressive-sounding results. These products are expensive juices that don’t exist to make the metabolism function better. By 2026, the global market for detox products will reach $75 billion. This market includes detox pills, teas, herbs, and juice cleanses.

Why Do We Do Detoxes?

People in the 20th Century believed constipation could lead to poisoning within the body. Detox drinks peaked at the turn of the 20th Century when people were doing aggressive bowel regimens and having surgery to remove part of the colon to prevent septicemia (sepsis). Sepsis is a severe infection with a 50% death rate if left untreated for too long in 2022.

Aggressive bowel cleansing and colon removal surgeries stopped taking place in the 1930s. However, the idea that we benefit from cleaning our guts still exists today, despite a complete lack of clinical evidence and data. Constipation should be treated, but otherwise, cleansing a normal gastrointestinal system is unnecessary.

Human Detox System

Humans inhale and ingest toxins in the environment. We have air pollution, household cleaners, alcohol, cigarettes, and ultra-processed foods. Even though these toxins can get into our systems, we expel most toxins naturally and without much struggle. The body removes toxins through sweat, urine, feces, and breath, rendering detox products unnecessary.

The human body is a vast detoxification system. We have our skin, lungs, liver, and digestive tracts. The liver breaks down blood to remove toxins from food, alcohol, and medication. Kidneys filter the broken-down toxins, and those get urinated.

The body’s natural detoxification process is dependent on amino acids found in protein. Commercial detox drinks and diets are high in carbohydrates and low in protein and fat. When you look at commercial detox drinks and diets, you see they almost always contain vegetable and fruit juice. Since these detox drinks don’t have any amino acids, they do not detoxify the body.

Weight Loss from Detoxes

Weight loss from a detox drink has little to do with toxins in the body. These drinks and diets, which often state you must drink only those drinks for a specific time, contain very few calories. According to the first law of thermodynamics, we know that we need a caloric deficit to lose weight. Detox drinks and diets only cause weight loss because calories are much lower than the body requires to function.

When the body is not getting enough calories to maintain basal metabolic rate (BMR), it uses glycogen (stored glucose found in the muscle and liver) as its primary energy source. Glycogen and water become depleted through this type of weight loss. Once normal eating is resumed, all the lost water is gained back. The number on the scale might go down, but it’s due to starvation and dehydration.

Can We Be More Vague?

When detox ads promote toxin removal, suspiciously, they do not name the toxin. These ads might say their product is clinically proven, but there’s no clinical evidence to support these products. There’s no way to set up a study to test to see if a product caused fewer toxins through the scientific method. On top of that, it’s not ethical to inject subjects with toxins.

The concept of “toxins” is also vague. Detox drinks tend to associate toxins with feces and help the bowel move. By eliminating the wastes built up in your gastrointestinal tract, you remove toxins, right? Well, not really. No evidence using a laxative to remove toxins rids the body of any toxins.

Eating a balanced and nutrient-dense diet will help the body detox as it should. A three-day juice detox or detox diet will not cancel out all of the food indulgences and alcohol from a weekend bender. Next time a detox comes up with friends or family, remember protein helps the body detox, not carbohydrates from juices.

The Money

Since there is no scientific evidence detox drinks and diets work, why is it a soon-to-be $75 billion market? The marketing plays on the human desire for a quick fix and diet culture.

Functional Fitness & Nutrition

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