A Closer Look at the Detox and Cleanse Trend

Enough already with detox and cleanse.  You can hardly escape these words.

No wonder, research by the trend tracker Mintel shows that this concept has had explosive growth.  There’s been a tremendous increase in the number of  products making detox claims, especially in food and drink.  Take a look at these stats:

Food                         + 108%
Healthcare            +  34%
Beverages             +  19%

(Comparing full-year 2007 with Jan.-Sept. 2009, Mintel Global New Products Database)

detox diets for dummiesJust doing my own little research on Amazon.com, I found 316 detox diet books.  One of the latest is Detox Diets for Dummies (Wiley 2010).  You know a trend has really gone mainstream if there’s a Dummies book about it.

There’s also The Martha’s Vineyard Diet Detox that promises a weight loss of 21 pounds in 21 days.   Read more about this liquid “cleansing” diet on WebMD. The article does a great job explaining the claims and raising concerns about this approach.


Some of the most popular detox-related books have been written by Ann Louise Gittleman, who is out with her latest Fat Flush For Life.

Once again, I can’t believe that Time named it one of the top 10 notable new diet books of the year.  How disappointing.  That’s the same list that saluted The Big Breakfast Diet — another book that I had a problem with.

Supplement companies have been working over time to bring new detox and cleanse products to market.  And that includes the diet pills that are being peddled by The Biggest Loser’s Jillian Michaels.

I actually got pitched by a PR gal promoting these new detox and cleanse supplements.  Can you believe it?  I guess she didn’t read what I had already written about Jillian Michaels’ diet pills. I was even offered free samples to offer to my readers.  Fat chance.

PLEASE people, do your research first before you’re pitching bloggers.  I’m probably the last person you want to send this product to.

Here’s a copy of the press release…JIAM50

Jillian Michaels, New York Times bestselling author  and renowned wellness coach from NBC’s The Biggest Loser and star of the  upcoming NBC show Losing It with Jillian, announces a new product  intended to “jump-start” any weight loss program. Her JumpStart 14 day  Cleanse and Burn kit has launched in Walgreens and Wal-Mart stores, and  will roll out in retailers nationwide over the next month.

“Cleansing has become a kind of national obsession,” says Michaels. “People are cleansing as part of a weight loss plan, to help reduce belly bloat, increase energy or just to make them feel lighter. But all  cleansing formulas are not equal. Many contain harsh chemical laxatives,  require fasting, or fail to provide the necessary probiotic  replenishment to restore beneficial intestinal flora. With so many  people jump-starting their diets with a cleanse, I wanted to make sure  there was a high-quality product on the market that was natural, didn’t  require fasting, and included a probiotic component. Adding a week’s  worth of my Maximum Strength Fat Burner was the icing on the cake, so to  speak.”

Oh my.  So cleansing is a “national obsession” and Jillian Michaels comes to the rescue to help us all!  Why is she reinforcing this myth?  Why doesn’t she stick with giving exercise advice?

The entire premise of “detox” is faulty.  Our  bodies don’t get backed up with “toxins” that come from the foods we eat.  And if it did, there’s nothing that we eat — or don’t eat — that’s going to help our liver do its job any better.  Our liver is the best filter for any toxins.  A severe weight loss program that relies on only liquids (like The Martha’s Vineyard Diet Detox and other detox diets) will likely backfire.  You might lose weight because you’re taking in so few calories, but most of the weight will be water weight and muscle.  It’s a way to dramatically control calories — there’s no real detoxification going on.

The detox trend is not just impacting foods, beverages and supplements.  You can find many different products making promises to rid your body of “toxins,” including detoxification foot pads. Take a look at Foot Pads: A Sticky Issue in today’s Wall Street Journal. It’s amazing that these claims are being made.  Happy to see the FTC has charged at least one company with deceptive advertising.  You can find more myth-busting information on the detox trend at Sense About Science.

I’ll be writing more about detox very soon, so stay tuned.

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