Guide to eat right: The truth about ‘detox’ juices – more fad, less nutrition

Thanks to the internet, influencers, and social media, detox juices are the hottest talk in town. They are setting the latest wellness trend by promising quick weight loss, cleansing toxins from your liver, controlling blood glucose levels, and supporting heart health. It’s okay to supplement the diet with homemade, fresh vegetable and fruit juices. Many people, however, choose to consume non-regulated detox juices as a meal replacement or health elixir to get rid of toxins in their bodies, which is a matter of huge concern.

What are detox juices? ‘Detox’ or ‘cleanse’ are popular marketing terms. Products with these tags sold easily without many questions asked on safety, nutritional benefits, and actual health outcomes. People believe drinking detox juices is safe as they contain ‘natural’ or ‘herbal’ ingredients. Detox juices are part of detox diets that are short-term dietary interventions based on teas, herbs, vegetables, and fruits. These diets claim to remove toxins from your liver, release toxins via urine and sweat, improve blood circulation, reduce inflammation, decrease bloating, reduce chronic lethargy, and provide essential nutrients. Juice cleanse is usually followed for 3 to 10 days by drinking just detox juices, commercial smoothies, lemon juice, herbal drinks, and no solid foods.

Body eliminates toxins itself – The cleansing mechanism of detox juices is unclear with no sound evidence to back their claim. Additionally, the body has its own mechanism to clean toxins via liver, feces, kidney, urine, and sweat. The liver filters toxins via phagocytosis by using the sinusoid channels. These channels are lined with Kupffer cells, a special type of immune cell. These cells engulf toxins, digest, and excrete them. Lungs also clean the toxins from the body by using tiny hairs called cilia. Lungs throw out almost all foreign particles that shouldn’t be there. Foreign elements get trapped in the mucus of the cilia and come out via coughing or sneezing. The kidney is another vital organ to eliminate toxins naturally. As well as filtering blood, kidneys also flush away byproducts of digestion and other bodily processes through urine. Over thousands of years, the colon or large intestine evolved into a self-cleaning oven. Once the small intestine has absorbed the nutrients from food and delivered them to the bloodstream, the large intestine gets rid of what remains.

Potential risks – Medical research documented numerous potential risks associated with detox juice consumption. Detox juices, teas, and supplements contain multiple ingredients, some with no or very little evidence of safety. Most of the time these products are not regulated by credible authorities to determine their safety and efficacy. Oxalate-rich fruits and vegetable juices are found to be an oxalate-induced acute renal failure in a patient as reported by a 2013 Mayo Clinic study.

As the liver is a detoxification organ, some may think a liver cleansed by detox juices could boost the metabolism and help with weight loss. If you’re falling for this trap, however, there is a good chance that you will waste your money and could harm your vital organs in the process. Liver diseases can be treated medically. Detox programs and supplements, however, haven’t been shown to be of any use. It has been found that green tea extract, the most common herbal supplement for weight loss worldwide is related to acute liver failure, hepatitis, either requiring liver transplantation or causing death.

After drinking Yogi brand “detox” tea three times a day for 14 days, a 60-year-old woman died of liver failure. She was believed to have suffered a liver decline because of the tea’s 18 herbs. In another instance, an Epsom salt detox led to manganese toxicity in a 50-year-old woman who died from multiple organ failure after taking the detox.

Detox juices or drinks contain multiple unknown ingredients in significantly higher quantities that make them unsafe. Overdosing some of these ingredients may lead to serious side effects including death. A number of herbal detox products have been seized by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for false health claims, presence of harmful ingredients, and improper labeling. India’s detox market is yet to be regulated.

Is there any weight loss? Some people claim to feel better after detox therapy. This result could be influenced by other lifestyle modifications such as eating healthy, limiting junk foods, regular physical activity, etc. You may experience some initial weight loss that comes back easily once you stop the supplement. Research showed herbal detoxes have diuretic ingredients that cause significant water loss via urine, sweat, or feces and lead to a rapid drop in water weight. Long-term consumption of detox juices or supplements leads to the leaching of essential nutrients which is extremely unsafe and harmful for overall health.

The possibility of dehydration and disrupted electrolyte balance is undeniable after excessive consumption of herbal detoxes that contain diuretics. According to one report, a 67-year-old man reported nausea, tremors, and weakness after taking an herbal detox beverage containing Uva Ursi leaves and Juniper berries for five days. A severe electrolyte deficiency led him to get treatment in an intensive care unit. Along with weight loss, many detox juices claim to provide quick fixes such as regulating blood glucose levels, managing acne, and bloating with no sound scientific backup.

Bottomline – Many people are tempted to drink detox juices for quick weight loss or organ cleansing, but the lack of solid evidence and a lack of regulatory process makes them unsafe and harmful for health. Take the time to eat healthily, engage in regular physical activity, and take care of your mental health in order to improve your overall wellbeing.

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