We've talked about liquid detox diets before. Like the "master cleanse," where you ingest nothing but water, lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper and the newer cleanses, which are pretty much bushels of fruits and veggies crushed in a juicer. Cleanses supposedly remove all the toxins from your body, boost your energy, improve your health, and help you lose weight fast. Are any of them safe and effective? In a word, no! Let's clear up a few myths about detox diets:

  • The first myth: Detox diets clear out disease-causing toxins. The fact is, your intestines, liver and kidneys are designed to get rid of toxins. Dr. Peter Pressman, internal medicine specialist at Cedars-Sinai, says that if you eat a healthy diet with plenty of fiber, your digestive system doesn't need to be detoxified!
  • Another detox diet myth: They're healthier than regular diets. Experts say it's smart to cut back on salt, sugar, alcohol, caffeine, and additives, but liquid cleanses also eliminate protein, dairy and fiber. Which can cause headaches, moodiness, exhaustion, insomnia and constipation.
  • The next myth: Detoxes help you lose weight fast. Nope. The weight you lose on a liquid diet isn't fat - it's mostly water. The minute you start eating solid food again, you gain it right back.
  • Another myth: Detoxing improves your skin, and reduces headaches and bloating. Dr. Pressman says none of these can be traced to detoxing. It's about lifestyle changes: Clearer skin comes from improved hydration, fewer headaches are caused by reduced alcohol intake, and less bloating is a result of eating less processed food.
  • The final myth about detox diets: You'll feel more energized. True, but it's not good energy - and it's only temporary. Dr. Pressman says the feeling is actually a reaction to starvation. It's a last-ditch effort by your body to keep you clear-headed and energetic enough to find food before you starve to death. Studies show that fasting, or eliminating entire food groups - especially protein - simply makes you tired, cranky, and more likely to binge on junk food when you get half a chance.