“Detox” products in check: do patches and juices really help against poisons?

Exhausted and low on energy: that’s how we all feel from time to time. A condition adopted by products such as teas, capsules or juice sheds.

Under the slogan “Detox”, they promise big things: the products should detoxify the body. We should feel fitter, more powerful, maybe even lose a few pounds. Marketing gimmick – or are the products really useful for us?

For Annett Reinke, group manager of food/nutrition at the Brandenburg Consumer Center, the answer is clear: the term detox alone is misleading.

Behind it is the word weaning, which means weaning. Only: the body does not need help to detoxify. “He does it himself and it’s really great,” says Hamburg nutritionist Matthias Riedl.

There is also often talk about “cleansing”.

All kinds of harmful substances are broken down through the liver, intestines, kidneys and lungs and are excreted. In the best case, the doctor should take countermeasures with an antidote in case of acute poisoning, for example due to drug overdose.

It may happen that, for example, lead from water pipes accumulates in fatty tissue. “However, there is no scientific evidence that such a pollutant can be removed from the body with a detox product,” says nutritionist Riedl.

Manufacturers of detox products often advertise a “cleansing” effect. At the same time: “slag” does not exist at all, says consumer advocate Reinke.

According to Reinke, promises that detox products can help you lose weight or boost your immune system have not been scientifically proven either. His verdict: “Products that are freely available on the market and claim to have detoxifying effects are expensive and unnecessary.”

Plasters that turn dark

The product that the consumer advocate considered particularly suspicious are detox patches. According to the manufacturer, the plaster should be attached to the sole of the foot in the evening before going to bed. If the patches turn dark overnight, this should prove that the patches have absorbed toxins from the body.

“The darkening may have been caused by the combined effect of heat and moisture under the blanket,” suspects Reinke. But this is not due to withdrawals, as there is no scientific evidence for this either.

Prohibited food labeling

It is precisely because of the lack of scientific evidence on important points that manufacturers are prohibited from launching products with detox promises.

At least this is true for food, following a 2018 ruling by the Federal Court of Justice (BGH). However, some manufacturers do not comply, while others describe their products.

What should not be forgotten is that some detox products also contain healthy ingredients such as pumpkin seeds, green tea or healing earth.

“They do not harm the body, but they do not develop the advertised detoxification effect,” says nutritionist Riedl.

Reinke says that pumpkin seeds as such are okay, as is green tea as a drink — “but why should it be expensive supplements?”

Certain products can even be harmful

However, it’s best to keep your hands off some detox products. Matthias Riedl advises not to detox from juice sheds, where the diet consists only of juices for days on end. Because fruit and vegetable juice contains too much sugar, which burdens the liver.

Care must also be taken with dehydrating products: those who consume them over a longer period of time excrete more minerals such as sodium, potassium, calcium or magnesium. This can throw the body’s electrolyte balance out of balance. Cramps or muscle disturbances may result.

Don’t even bring toxins into your body

So what can you do to really do something good for your body – without patches or powders? Above all, it is better not to get so many harmful substances into the body: “If possible, avoid nicotine and alcohol,” advises consumer advocate Annett Reinke.

Nutritionists recommend eating lots of fruits and vegetables. However, “Always wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating,” says Reinke. For leafy vegetables, it is recommended to remove the outer leaves and stem to protect against heavy metals. Organic products usually contain less harmful substances.

In order for the kidneys to filter out toxins quickly and efficiently, you should drink enough – about two to three liters of water and unsweetened tea per day.

Fasting to repair cellular damage

Also good for the body: fasting. “So-called intermittent fasting can be helpful,” explains Riedl. For example, no food is eaten between 4:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. the next day.

During this time window, the body achieves a special metabolic state and is thus better able to repair cell damage.

“In general, fasting helps you better understand your own needs,” explains Riedl. Eating more consciously can also help you lose extra pounds.

“Those who also add a lot of movement to their daily life, preferably in the fresh air, are really good for their bodies,” says Riedl. And that without spending a single euro on detox products.

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