No, You Don't Need to Do a "Detox"—Here's What a Dietitian Says
Those of us who use Instagram or Tiktok know how hard it is to scroll through without seeing some celebrity or influencer touting the latest-and-greatest detox product that makes them feel oh so much better. It may seem like everyone and their brother has tried a juice cleanse (I get hungry just thinking about it!). But, do you need to do a detox to be healthy? As a registered dietitian, I can assure you the answer is no, absolutely not. I'd like to set the record straight: Detox products are not necessary and might actually do more harm than good.
Long before the idea of a voluntary "detox" was even a thing, humans were thriving. But how did we survive without juice cleanses and detox supplements? The answer is simple and complicated: the human body. Metabolism and other perfectly healthy biological processes can create toxic byproducts that need to be excreted, but no need to fret. The human body is naturally equipped with organs, like our kidneys, gut and liver, that do all the detoxing we need, from birth onward.
So long as we are hydrated, our kidneys can flush out toxins (like ammonia, urea and uric acid) through urination. Our livers filter toxins through what are called sinusoid channels. These channels are lined with immune cells that engulf, digest and excrete toxins that eventually become our poop (no more glamorous way to put it). When our guts and digestive tracts process food, the waste becomes a bowel movement. The best part? These organs detoxify our body without us even knowing it, regardless of what we eat or drink. And it's free!
While it might seem too good to be true, our bodies are masters of homeostasis, a phenomenon in which the body does what it can to perpetuate a stable, healthy condition. That being said, there are certain things we can do that make it easier for our bodies to maintain a healthy equilibrium. One of the most effective things you can do to help your body function at its best is to have a balanced, healthy eating pattern. Getting the nutrients you need can help your organs keep doing their jobs. Keeping alcohol intake in check will give your organs fewer toxins to filter out. Moving your body regularly will help with healthy blood flow and regular bowel movements as well as having mental health benefits, all of which are important for helping your organs clear out toxins. Doing these things can make it easier for your body to detoxify itself. You definitely don't need a depriving "cleanse" to stimulate detoxification.
Furthermore, cleanses and detox supplements can be a little spam-y. They are wrought with unfounded claims, are super expensive and aren't sustainable. Even if, by some miracle, they help you lose weight or feel better, you'll likely be back to baseline as soon as you stop using them. Most supplements (including weight loss and detox supplements) are completely unregulated. There is no one checking to see if their ingredients are accurate to the label or even if the products are safe for consumption prior to hitting the shelves (or your social media feed).
In my professional opinion, you're likely better off skipping a celebrity detox or cleanse of any kind. They're expensive, their safety is murky and they can foster an unhealthy relationship with food. Not to mention, they are all claiming to accomplish a function that your body already does perfectly well on its own, for free. Focus on having a balanced eating pattern and include foods you enjoy in moderation (remember: all foods fit). Move your body regularly and stay hydrated so you feel and function at your best. Save the money you would've spent on a detox for a gift for yourself. Might we suggest these Trader Joe's self-care products that are all $2 or less? That's more fun and probably healthier, too.