Newsflash: Detoxing Isn’t Making You Healthy

Real talk: Few things get me more heated than seeing people fawn over detoxing. “OMG, I detoxed my body by drinking cucumber juice for a week.” “This face mask detoxifies clogged pores.” “Drink this tea to detox your tummy and make you lose weight.”

Heads up y’all: At least 95 percent of the things you see in your everyday life that claim to detox your body are lying to you. It’s a gimmick, it’s marketing, and it’s all a bunch of bull.

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Let’s break it down a little bit. What are toxins? Toxins are poisonous substances in the form of small molecules or proteins that can cause disease if they come into contact with or become absorbed into body tissues. I know, you’re thinking “POISON, THAT MEANS THEY KILL YOU, RIGHT?” Eh, toxins range big time in terms of severity. A bee sting, for example, releases toxins into your body, and unless you’re allergic to them, the worst they do is just hurt for a few days. Meanwhile, there are other toxins in the air we breathe, cigarettes, and bacterias, that are actually not so great for our bodies. But guess what? Drinking some tea isn’t the key to flushing bad toxins out of our bodies. Why? Because we already have organs that already detox all the gross crap that builds up in our bodies. You might be familiar with them: the liver, kidneys, lungs, and skin. The liver is especially important here because that is the primary source of detoxing in your body.

Think of the liver the way you’re meant to look at your vagina: You don’t have to clean your vagina with soap and water because it is already self-cleaning. As long as you have a healthy liver, you don’t really have to worry about detoxing.

So why is detoxing such a popular phrase these days? Why are celebrities taking selfies with detoxing teas? Why are skincare lines claiming that products will detox your pores? Because it sounds good. We live in an era in which health, or what looks like health, is so effing alluring. So when you think of detoxing, you think of being cleaner, healthier, fresher, purer. Companies understand the intoxicating power of detoxing, and they’re marketing the hell out of it.

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Don’t get me wrong: There are plenty of items out there claiming to detox your body that have plenty of good ingredients. That “detoxifying” mud mask is going suck up a bunch of excess oil and help problem skin, but it’s not getting rid of any actual toxins. Seriously, there’s no science to back that up. Likewise, a diet full of fruits and vegetables is awesome for your body, but even broccoli and sprouts have trace elements of the poison cyanide. And eating fresh pressed juices aren’t inherently ridding your body of toxins. I even saw a post on Twitter from someone claiming to sell herbs that will help detox the vagina. Nobody’s vagina needs to be detoxed.

When it comes to the world of detoxing, it seems as though weight loss is the biggest draw. In comes the cleansing detox diet! Sure, if you’re suddenly cutting out processed sugar, carbs, meat, dairy, and most grains from your diet, you’re probably going to lose weight. If you’re living off of liquified kale and lemon juice for a week, you’re probably going to lose weight. But that’s not because toxins are leaving your body, that’s because you’re basically starving yourself. Oh, and those detoxing teas that all your faves on Instagram are advertising? They’re literally laxative teas. Sure, you’ll feel cleansed all right. You might even believe that your colon is all nice and detoxified. Honestly, you’re just going to be doing a whole lot of pooping. All of this might result in weight loss, but it’s mostly going to be water weight and you’re probably going to feel miserable.

In the long term, all this detoxing–especially in the form of fasting and cleansing–can actually be unhealthy and lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies as well as nausea, vomiting, bloating, and dehydration. Before you even consider going on such an extreme diet, you need to talk to your doctor, who will hopefully convince you to bulk up on some fruits and veg and cut out processed food instead of sending you down a parsley and lemon juice hellhole. Oh, and I think it’s important to repeat this once again: None of this isn’t getting rid of any toxins in your body in a way that’s any different than the way your body naturally expels toxins.

Please, before you buy into the detox trend, think for a second. Most of these products claiming to detox your body can’t even list which toxins are going to be removed and are playing on the fears of their customers. Stay healthy, take care of yourself, but don’t be fooled.

Have you ever tried a detoxing program? What do you think of the popularity of detoxing in general? Tell us in the comments!

You can follow the author, Ashley Reese, on Twitter or Instagram. Don’t worry, she doesn’t bite!

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