Too much partying, a 30th birthday or too-tight jeans can all send us on a "detox" frenzy — but put under the microscope, the much-hyped cleansing aids were shown to be more expensive and less effective than diet changes, according to experts.
Consumer watchdog Choice evaluated 10 popular detox programs and found all to be expensive relative to their ingredients, and unlikely to have a more potent effect than a healthy diet.
Choice tested the following 10 brands:
• Bioglan Intense Cleanse, $19.99
• Blackmores Kickstart Detox, $18.49
• Totally Natural Quick Cleanse Detox Program, $49.95
• 4321 10 Day Body Boot Camp, $39.99
• 48hr Rapid Detox, $29.99
• Brauer 10 Day Detox, $54.99
• 4321 Slim Evolution, $26.99
• Skinny Mini 5 Day Detox and Weight Loss Program, $29.95
• QuickTrim Fast Cleanse 48hr Super Diet Detox, $34.99
• Lemon Detox, $89.95
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Of the 10 pharmacy-bought products, only three were listed with the Therapeutic Goods Administration, which is responsible for regulating all medical products.
The study used volunteers to test each program along with a set eating plan and had the ingredients analysed by experts.
Recurring ingredients of note included caffeine, green tea, taurine and bitter orange, which are all believed to help speed up metabolism, as well as laxative ingredients. But some necessary warnings were omitted.
"Bitter orange should be avoided by people with high blood pressure and should not be taken in conjunction with caffeine," the study read.
Dietician Kate Di Prima says most of the products on offer are promising to do what your body already can.
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"This year, Australians are predicted to spend $827.1m on diet products and weight loss services," she said.
"Most detox products spruik some kind of cleansing benefit for the liver or kidneys. In some cases, products encourage severe restrictions of key food groups, such as meat and dairy. Worryingly, others recommend eliminating food altogether.
"Liver cleansing doesn't actually have to be a complicated process at all – all you need to do is avoid excessive amounts of alcohol, caffeine and saturated fats."
While some participants saw results, the majority of detox products came with the recommendation that it be used with a healthy eating plan, which was likely to be responsible for any weight loss.
"Some of our volunteers said they felt better at the conclusion of the trial, they all put this down to the healthy eating plan and elimination of added sugars and processed foods. None said they would be willing to pay for the products out of their own money," the study noted.
Researchers also evaluated the cost of the detox programs relative to their ingredients – the worst was the Pure and Natural Lemon Detox, $89.95, containing ingredients costing less than $25 from a supermarket.
Author: Philippa Lees
Approving editor: Rory Kinsella.