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Q: Are detox diets healthy?

It’s tempting to try something like a detox diet or juice cleanse when you want to lose weight or improve your health. These plans sound like a quick fix and make impressive claims about their health benefits, such as promising to flush toxins out of your body or rapidly shed pounds. But the truth is there is little evidence that these diets are beneficial, and in some cases they may actually cause more harm than good.

For one thing, your body already has organs and systems that are constantly working to remove toxins and flush them away. So you don’t need a special juice or tea to do this for you.

For another, many of these cleanse diets are based on severely restricting calories and nutrients. Over time, this can slow your metabolism, ultimately making it harder to lose weight or keep it off. For some people, it can also trigger disordered eating habits. And because detox diets tend to be short and intense, any weight you lose by fasting or restricted eating will usually just come right back.

Some detox diets involve taking special herbs or supplements that are untested or may be harmful. These can include “colon cleansing” stimulants that can make colon issues worse, so be especially wary of diets that ask you to buy special products as part of the cleanse.

If you want to jump start your health with a special diet or wellness challenge for a few days or weeks, try something healthier. You could take a break from refined sugar or processed foods, try a plant-based diet, or give up alcohol for a month.

Long-term, making smaller but sustainable positive changes to your diet and lifestyle will do more to help you manage your weight and get healthy. It will also improve your heart health and reduce your risk for heart disease, diabetes, heart attack, and stroke.

Maui Memorial has been recognized for excellence in heart and stroke care from the American Heart Association. Learn more about our services at