To answer the question, we need to get back to basics and understand what it means to detox. “Detoxing is actually a form of medical therapy to treat patients who have been poisoned either with heavy metals, dangerous chemicals, drugs or alcohol. So it is only necessary when our body has been invaded by toxins that could lead to detrimental effects and potentially death,” reveals Lydia Phua, a nutritionist at Healthworks Mont Kiara.
Whether it’s a drink, pill or diet, detoxing may seem like the perfect solution to our overindulgent, stressful lifestyles and tightening pants, but unfortunately that is not the case. Says Verona Lee, a dietitian at Sunway Medical Centre: “Our body is well equipped with its own built-in mechanisms to detoxify and remove toxins. There is insufficient scientific evidence to support the claim that detox diets or cleanses remove more toxins than a properly functioning body would (on its own).” The ultimate lifestyle ‘detox’? Not smoking, exercising and eating a healthy, balanced diet. Here, they reveal the truth about common conceptions.
1 Drinking a lot of water detoxifies the body.
Fact: Water is a fundamental element in our body’s natural detoxification process. Our liver and kidneys pick up toxins and waste from the bloodstream, and convert them into water-soluble substances that can be excreted in urine. Hence, hydration is important. However, drinking excessive amounts of water can be as dangerous as not drinking enough, especially if you have heart, kidney or liver disease, as huge amounts of water may upset the balance of electrolytes (such as sodium).
2 Detoxes are the quickest way to lose weight.
Fact: You might see the results on the scale rapidly after following a detox regimen or diet, but it is not sustainable as you’re losing mostly water and muscle mass. A detox diet is not only ineffective in helping weight loss, it can cause other problems such as dehydration. In fact, once you get back to your usual eating pattern, you could gain the weight right back or even more.
3 Everyone needs to detox once in a while.
Fact: Some believe that we should detox occasionally to get rid of harmful substances. But our amazing body has its own mechanisms to remove waste and toxins. It constantly filters out, breaks down and excretes toxins and waste products such as alcohol, by-products of medication, and bacteria through major organs such as the digestive tract, liver and kidneys. So far, there is no scientific evidence to suggest that our body needs help to remove toxins. Inducing a ‘cleanse’ or detox is not necessary, and may even be harmful if it’s done often.