Published on February 15, 2016 | by Leyah Mirza     Photography by Leyah Mirza


Should we rely on the detox trend to keep us healthy?

Detoxes and cleanses have become the some of the biggest health trends. From social media to celebrities, many people are trying them. The big question is whether it is worth the effort.

According to Dr. David Ma, Professor and Director of Health for Life at the University of Guelph-Humber, “detox diets are a combo of things in terms of weight and cleansing.” They involve consuming certain foods, drinks and supplements and “the amount of calories you’re consuming and portion control is really important,” said Dr. Ma.

Detoxing can definitely be beneficial in some ways. It can increase energy, help with weight loss, build the immune system and clear up skin. Most importantly, “detox diets are meant to help the body remove harmful toxins or accumulation of waste,” said Dr. Ma.

Second-year Psychology student, Tiffany Lukawski recommends detoxing for your skin. “In the past I struggled with acne and I found it was an internal problem. What you eat affects how your skin is going to look so, I tried cleanses to help me with that and also to improve my lifestyle,” the University of Guelph-Humber student said.

Many people find detoxing appealing because it is hugely influenced by celebrities and it also serves as a quick fix for health issues. “I got inspiration from them [social media], but I don’t believe in miracles, I don’t buy into that stuff; I try to stick with the most natural things,” said Lukawski.

Detoxes often market the word toxin as the enemy but a detox might not be required to get rid of them. The truth is, “the body has natural mechanisms to remove waste. Your kidneys act as a filtration system, the liver detoxifies drugs; we also have our digestive system which is involved in removal of waste,” said Dr. Ma.

According to Dr. Ma there is no scientific evidence to prove that detoxes do what they say.  “There are no proven facts; that would be the danger. The perceived benefits might not actually be there,” he said.

While detoxing has its benefits, it can sometimes do more harm than good. “Any of these extreme diets are harmful for the long term, you can end up with micronutrient deficiencies in certain vitamins and minerals,” Dr. Ma said.

Guelph-Humber student Sydney Tan said she wasn’t able to complete the entire 21 days of her detox. “It wasn’t that great of an experience, it reset my system but I lost a lot of weight too quickly. It affected my sugar levels and my energy,” said the third-year media studies student.

The key to a healthier body is balance. There are many other options to cleanse your body. “Smoothies are full of antioxidants to cleanse your system out, drink lots of water; people forget about that,” said Lukawski.

Dr. Ma also suggests eating more fibre, “diets high in fibre are helpful in terms of removing waste. It also helps with regularity and has some benefits for removing excess cholesterol,” he said.

Dr. Ma said there is some truth, “but in terms of if we should purposefully be consuming these diets all the time…probably not.” Detoxing might be helpful at first but a balanced diet is healthy in the long term. “Nutrition shouldn’t be complex, adhere to portion control and balance,” he said.

About the Author

Leyah Mirza hopes to inspire others with her stories.

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