Taking a closer look at detox programs

Detox. Detoxification. Purification. Cleansing our bodies of supposed toxins is a huge trend – and abstinence is the cleanser. As many different detox methods there are, as different are the reasons to pursue a detoxification program.

Many cultures and religions have fasting as a fixed part of their calendar. However, today, rituals are often not the main reason for detox programs. These programs, which are derived from fasting, are aimed at tackling everyday problems. Some people may desire a feeling of greater vitality, or to reduce stress levels, others may wish to alleviate digestion issues or tackle chronic diseases, such as allergies, rheumatism or hormonal imbalances. These regiments are also supposed to aid in losing weight. But what do they really do? And what do you have to watch out for?

What should a detoxification program do?

Organs which detoxify – such as the liver, kidneys and intestines – excrete waste and toxins on a daily basis. This means that when our bodies are healthy, they generally do not need additional detoxification.

However, those following a detox program, during which they only consume very little solid food – or none at all – hope to stimulate the following processes.

  • By fasting, toxins stored in fatty tissue are removed from the cells and are then excreted through the liver, intestines, kidneys, lungs and skin.
  • We relieve the burden on our intestines and help clean them.
  • Reducing the water content in connective tissue can help improve the overall appearance of our skin, particularly changes, such as cellulite.

However, there is no scientific proof to support the efficacy of these processes.

What programs are there?

There is no singular definition for detox. Detoxification programs do not have any guidelines, which means there are no standards to be adhered to. They tend to include the avoidance of acidotic foodstuffs, or promote the use of powders with purification effects. Even yoga exercises are supposed to have a detoxifying effect. Furthermore, massages, cosmetic products or detox patches which are supposed to draw toxins out of the body during the night, supplement many offers. Unfortunately, there is no scientific evidence for the efficacy of any supplement.

Here are some of the best-known detox programs:

Detoxing with juice

Interested parties have a wide range of juice detox programs to choose from. These programs generally entail drinking a lot of juice, still water and tea throughout the day, with some of the programs avoiding the consumption of solid foods. Others allow a single meal per day, in line with a meal plan. There are also all-inclusive offers which provide support for up to seven days, often including access to guides and motivational support, as well as to a community of like-minded people.

Detoxing with shakes

There are many different programs which detox with shakes. Programs here can last from between seven days up to an entire month. Yet, the basic principles are generally similar, with the goal of using self-made shakes to purify the body, as followers of these programs aim to gain a new feeling of vitality. As part of the program, meals are generally replaced by a shake, instead of being omitted entirely.

Detoxing with kombucha

Kombucha is a drink produced by fermenting sweetened tea with Kombucha SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast), commonly known as a “mother” or “mushroom”. The bacteria, acids and B vitamins contained therein are supposed to relieve the load on both the pancreas and the liver, as well as support the detoxification processes in our bodies.

Detox teas

During this detox program, which can last from between a week and a month, participants drink teas with a supposed purifying effect. The ingredients differ from manufacturer to manufacturer. It is recommended to drink them in the morning or evening, or both morning and evening. Meals are often unaffected in this program.

Detox retreat

This is an option for those who wish to thoroughly immerse themselves with a holistic approach to the topic of detoxification. As part of a comprehensive package, participants receive massages, go on walks and eat meals as part of customised menus. At the same time, some people also take advantage of the situation and go on a social media detox. Phones and other devices are locked away for a week and nothing stands in the way of concentrating on your person.

Where is caution required?

If you decide to detox on your own, thereby avoiding certain foods, you risk depriving your body of important nutrients after a short period of time.
In the case of a juice detox, it is possible that you subject your body to certain demands. Fruit juices and smoothies naturally contain a lot of sugar, which is why they should only be consumed in moderation. Ideally, you should therefore avoid additional sugar in your drinks. By the way, we have lots of recipes for sugar-free smoothies. Why don’t you try the kiwi-spinach smoothie, or the berry-chickpea smoothie?
The desired positive effect of a detox program can often quickly lead to health risks, and there is no scientific evidence to support the effectiveness of any detoxification diet. The extent to which these diets stimulate metabolism is also debatable, with the quick weight loss presumably attributable to the restricted intake of nutrients.


The effect of detox diets is not scientifically proven. Those who take care to be aware of possible toxins in their daily diets can gain new insights into what effects eating certain foods can have. Whether you accept potential toxins in your food, in cosmetics, or when using social media depends primarily on you and your behaviour.

Here are some preventative measures so that a detox program can be avoided and you stay healthy:

  • Choose foods that are free from pesticides.
  • Avoid fatty and sugar-rich foods.
  • Use organic cosmetics.
  • Turn your phone off at night.
  • Consciously take breaks.
  • Take some time for mindfulness or meditative exercises in the morning and evening.