The Potential Risks of Detox Products
Why these products are more sinister than they seem
Browsing through social media, I have noticed an increase in diet supplements that are labeled as “detox” products. From detox teas, to pills, to powders, the idea of a quick solution to lose weight and become healthy is extremely appealing for many people. The images of fit, healthy-looking men and women in workout gear make these products look even more appealing because they present the potential consumer with an image of what they could potentially look like if they use their product.
These products may lead people to believe that they have “toxins” in their bodies that need to be removed, and that these toxins are causing them to gain weight, and that using these detox products will allow the user to rid their bodies of these harmful toxins in their bodies. Many companies perpetuate this idea to sell more of their products, but in reality, this couldn't be further from the truth.
The human body’s mechanism for actually removing any toxic compounds that are consumed mainly involves the liver. Once absorbed, these compounds go to the liver and are broken down through a variety of enzymatic reactions. This breakdown converts them into soluble products that are more easily excreted by the body through the kidneys.
So, what exactly are these detox products doing to the body? Looking at the ingredients, everything listed often looks natural, causing consumers to believe that the products are healthy and that there couldn’t be any negative side effects caused by them. These teas often DO include many healthy ingredients, such as matcha, and goji berries. However, among these healthy ingredients is the sinister addition that leads to many of the problems that can come with consuming these products. This ingredient is called senna root, which is a natural laxative. While it is true that laxative use may lead to weight loss, these “detox products” are not accomplishing the effects that they are claiming to accomplish. Rather than ridding the body of toxic compounds, all they do is lead to increased bowel function.
On top of this, they often are accompanied by an array of side effects, especially in long-term users. After all, a pharmacological effect is occurring in the body from consuming these products. These side effects often include abdominal pain, electrolyte abnormalities like hypokalemia (decreased potassium in the blood), nausea, and finger clubbing. The pharmacological effect caused by the detox products could also potentially impact any medications being used by the person who consumed them.
Another negative effect of laxatives like senna root is decreased nutrient absorption. This is due to the increased digestive system activity that occurs. Food consumed spends less time in the small intestine, which allows less of the nutrients within the food consumed to be absorbed into the systemic circulation and distributed throughout the body. Instead, these nutrients are lost along with other waste products. This can lead to nutrient deficiencies.
The final negative effect I would like to talk about is the weight GAIN that can be caused by consuming these products. Due to the lack of nutrient absorption, the body has the potential to be put into starvation mode. This leads to a crash in metabolism. Once the detox is ended and nutrient absorption goes back to normal, the body can overcompensate and burn fewer calories, leading to weight gain.
Overall, detox products are not the solution to weight gain and health that they claim to be. While there are likely some products out there that do not contain any laxatives or other potentially harmful ingredients, it is important that people are fully aware of what they are consuming when they purchase these teas and supplements.