“Detox” diets make out the liver is like a dirty old sponge that needs to go through the washing machine. Actually, the liver is an organ that filters harmful or unneeded substances from the blood to be excreted as urine. It is self-regulating and will replenish its own cells at the same rate as any part of the body. Except in extreme cases, such as heavy drug or alcohol use when a real medical detox is required, it does its job perfectly well.
“Detox” implies that there are “toxins” in your body, building up and festering, making you sick, fat, exhausted, grumpy, ugly and worthless. It is not often clear which specific “toxins” these are, only that they are bad, bad, bad and need to be expunged from your disgusting wreck of a self in order for you to become a healthy, attractive, calm person. Along with very restrictive diets, such as the juice fast, you can buy a “detox” solution from a pharmacy for between $30 and $120. These products claim to have things around 20 times the probiotics of a serving of yoghurt or ginger for gut health. Wouldn’t you be better off spending your money on yoghurt and ginger, along with a balanced diet?
Fasting is a popular detox, probably because you will almost certainly experience a flatter stomach for a short period. But take note that many of the effects felt by people fasting, such as breath that smells like nail-polish remover (released toxins!), are identical to those of ketosis, or starvation. You are just starving yourself.
If you abuse your body for years, you are going to have bad repercussions. Laying off the booze and junk food is always a good thing for your body. If you’ve been living off Snickers bars covered in melted cheese and dipped in tequila, then, yes, you will be feeling like shit. But forcing yourself to eat food you don’t like for a couple of days or weeks will not have the same benefits as a long-term, healthy, balanced diet and regular exercise. Many detoxes are harmless unless they require a very restrictive diet for a long period of time. Any special concoction you have to spend money on is likely to be a scam. If anything needs to be “flushed out” of our systems, it’s the idea that a “detox” diet will compensate for a lifetime of bad food choices and inactivity.