Detox: fact or fiction?

A detox diet is the best way to get rid of that holiday bloat, right? Wrong. You don’t need a fancy diet or expensive program and here’s why, according to an expert. 

With Christmas and the silly season full of parties and indulgence, the ‘holiday bloat’ is probably feeling all too real right now. Trying to get back into the swing of a new year (not to mention those healthy resolutions) can be a struggle for the best of us.

It’s about now the word ‘detox’ seems to be everywhere, telling us we need to be inhaling filtered air from Antarctica and drinking water straight from the Nepalese Himalayas in order to repent for our holiday sins. But there is no need for straight kale juice, endless lemon and cayenne pepper or a solid diet of carrot sticks, because a detox diet is not the answer, according to dietitian and nutrition scientist Dr Joanna McMillan.

“Anything that promises you detoxing, cleansing or quick fixes, throw those in the bucket,” she says. “They’re not going to make any difference to your long-term health.”

But they’ll remove toxins, right? Actually, there is no convincing evidence a detox will remove toxins from your body or improve your health at all - and any weight you do shift is likely to simply be due to restricted calories.

So now what?

Your body is great at naturally detoxifying itself as the kidneys and liver filter and eliminate most ingested toxins. So forget nasal irrigation, intestinal cleansing and oxygen detox and instead focus on these six elements for a healthy life, naturally.

“Food, drink, activity, exercise, sleep and stress are your focus areas,” she explains.

“Sometimes, one of those things is really out of whack, and that’s where your focus should be, and sometimes we need a bit of adjustment on all of them.”

How do I start?

Focus on three things at a time, says McMillan. “Pick three things to focus on, and when you’ve nailed those ones, you can add other things into the mix.”

This allows us to focus on long-term changes and “not quick fixes which we’re not going to be able to stick to,” says McMillan.

The bottom line

Quick fixes are less of a friend, and more of a foe. The body is very capable of defending itself from most environmental pollutants, and if you are generally eat well, keep your fluids up, get regular exercise, sufficient sleep and keep up with regular medical checks, then you shouldn’t need drastic measures to feel good.

As McMillan says, “small changes add up to big results”. Here’s to those in 2019, no detox required.

Detox: fact or fiction?