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Why Detox Diets are Discouraged: a Doctor's Perspective


Every New Year without fail, at least a few patients will ask my opinion about this detox tea, juice or diet plan that they plan to embark on in order to "reset" in the new year. And every year I say the same thing - don't do it. Why? Before I answer, I'll confess something: I totally understand the compulsion. Every year I find myself contemplating a "Detox" too! So why don't I recommend it ?

  1. Detox diets are unnecessary:

As long as you have two functioning kidneys and a functioning liver, it's safe to assume that your body's detoxification functions are working just fine. If you feel like your body needs a detox because of all the suboptimal eating and drinking- that's understandable. But instead of making drastic changes, instead I usually suggest that you can "detox" by increasing your hydration, and cutting back on the junk (processed foods, refined sugar, unhealthy fats etc). But of course this is my advice every day! The reason why I'm not a fan of many detox diet plans is that they are restrictive and not sustainable.

2. Detox Diets may be unsafe:

As mentioned above, many detox plans are extreme. Some advocate for all liquid diet, or restricting intake to just a few ingredients, or advocating for ingesting lots of supplements. I've definitely seen the consequences of some of these detox diets: patients come in fatigued, dizzy, with difficulty focusing- all the signs of dehydration and nutrient deficiency. Definitely not recommended! Moreover, some detox diets call for supplements that are likely unregulated with unknown side effects.

3. Detox diets for weight loss ultimately don't work:

I've seen lots of people lose weight quick from a detox diet. I've yet to meet anyone that kept it all off. And no surprise there: the restrictive nature of these diets are simple unsustainable. And any not sustainable is not practical, and not something I recommend.

Again, I totally understand the desire to do something different when you're feeling physically and mentally suboptimal. There are more effective ways to reset:

  • Cut out refined sugar from your diet

  • Focus on a whole food plant based diet

  • Avoid highly processed food

  • Cut out sugar sweetened beverages

  • Work on ingesting healthy mono-unsaturated oils, and cut down on other types

  • Increase your water intake (as long as safe to do so per doctor's advice)

Hope this article helps save someone money on an unnecessary detox diet!


Kim Rogers, MD

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