As the weather warms up, detox diets are hugely popular and promise to rid the body of ‘toxins’ in a short amount of time to deliver amazing energy and weight loss. Here’s the dirt on detox diets.  

Danger Detox! How To Be Safe

Rather than plotting to kill you with stockpiled toxins, human organs are pretty efficient and self cleaning. Human beings have kidneys, liver, gastrointestinal system, lungs and skin that play a role in the excretion of unwanted substances without chemical intervention. For healthy adults, the immune system removes and neutralizes toxic substances within hours after we have eaten them.

Detox diets are often very restrictive and rigid, removing whole food groups which can be dangerous, especially for children, adolescents, pregnant or breastfeeding women and older adults.

Starving? No I’m Detoxing Aren’t I? 

Detox dieting often relies on severe energy restriction and can lead to nutritional inadequacy, as extreme fasting can cause protein and vitamin deficiencies and electrolyte imbalance. This places the detox dieter at risk of overdosing on diuretics, laxatives, supplements and even water.

Drastically cutting fuel to the body can cause:

  • Tiredness and fatigue

  • Aches and pains

  • Bowel and stomach upsets

  • Bad breath

  • Dizziness

These symptoms are often claimed to be signs of detoxification, in fact these are a common sign of low blood glucose levels or hypoglycemia when blood sugar levels decrease below normal levels often from starvation and restricting carbohydrate intake.

Cherish Your Body Every Day, Not Just On Detox Mode

The key to real energy and vitality is committing to a lifestyle of healthy eating and physical activity habits.

Excessive alcohol consumption and smoking along with a diet high in saturated and trans fats, refined processed food and drinks will leave you feeling tired and run down.  

Eating a variety of nutritious foods from the five food groups combined with regular exercise will have you feeling better in the long term.

So Should I Detox Ever? 

Currently there is no evidence to support the use of detox diets for toxin elimination or weight loss. A critical review assessing eight of the most popular detox diets, including long and short programs that recommend different combinations of fasting, supplements, food modification, and laxatives concluded there was no efficacy in their purported claims [1,2].  

For more information on healthy eating check out the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating:


[1] Klein, A. V., & Kiat, H. (2015). Detox diets for toxin elimination and weight management: A critical review of the evidence. Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, 28(6), 675-686. doi:10.1111/jhn.12286

[2] Dietitians Association of Australia. I’m tired all the time. Should I try a detox diet? [internet] [cited 2016 Jul 2016]. Available from: