OPINION

Body comes with original built-in cleanser

Body comes with original built-in cleanser

We're a couple of weeks into January, which has me wondering, how is everyone going with those New Year resolutions?

Losing weight is one of the most common resolutions people make, and boy, don't companies selling weight loss and diet products know it!

I can hardly turn around these days without someone wanting to sell me some sort of cleanse, detox, or supplement that will magically make me thin.

Let's talk about these cleanses and detox diets that are oh-so-popular in recent years. Generally, they involve some period of fasting, followed by a period of strict dieting - cutting out most of your normal diet.

The "juice cleanse", where you survive on only fruit and vegetable juices, is one example.

On the more extreme end is the lemon detox, where solid food is replaced with a delicious mix of lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper.

Many of these programs also include expensive supplements or even colon cleanses or enemas (coffee enemas seem to be all the rage right now).

These treatments supposedly rid your digestive system and body of a host of undefined "toxins", leaving you healthier, thinner, and bursting with vitality.

I mean, it sounds great, right?

A simple change in diet and you can flush out all those nasty toxins and contaminants. Like a good spring clean, but for your body.

The thing is our bodies don't need lemon juice or herbal teas to cleanse.

They come equipped with a liver and kidneys - organs whose job it is to filter or breakdown toxins, and remove waste.

As long as these are in working order you can forget about the cleanses and detoxes.

As well as being unnecessary, these extreme diets come with health risks. Because they're often so restrictive they leave you at risk of nutritional deficiencies, and in some cases cause dehydration. And for many people, the restrictive diet combined with focus on weight loss, can affect mental health and well-being.

As someone who carries a little bit of extra "fluff" and struggles to lose it, I can understand the desire for a quick fix.

But a detox or cleanse isn't it. If you're going to make a resolution to do anything this year then make it a resolution to try and eat more fresh and less processed foods, drink plenty of water and get active. It'll do a lot more for you than any detox or cleanse.

Dr Mary McMillan is a lecturer at the School of Science and Technology, University of New England