What Kourtney Kardashian Gets Wrong About "Detoxes"

Photo: Rich Fury/Getty Images.
Recently, Kourtney Kardashian shared her 2018 Guide For Detoxing on her app. If you don't subscribe, here's the basic gist: By eating enough salads and drinking enough green smoothies, you'll be able to "detox" and "reboot in the new year," she says.
It's not at all surprising that Kourtney, the patron saint of health in the Kardashian family, is enthusiastic about doing a "detoxifying" cleanse (especially after the last episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, in which she took a sweat test to prove that she was healthier than Kim). But it is surprising that it's 2018 and we're still talking about the so-called benefits of "detoxing."
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Here's the thing: Your organs (specifically your liver and kidneys) are your body's in-house detoxing system, which naturally filter out waste and keep chemicals balanced. At the moment, there's no solid scientific evidence that "detox" diets help at all. In fact, they tend to do more harm than good.
Often a "detox" involves cutting out foods that are deemed "toxic," like dairy, gluten-containing grains, coffee, alcohol, and red meat, according to Christy Harrison, MPH, MS, RD, a registered dietitian. But, for most people, many of these foods are crucial sources of energy that their bodies requires in order to to function. And unless you have a food allergy or medical condition, removing most of these foods from your diet just to "detox" is a bad idea. According to Trish Lieberman, MS, RD, LDN, Director of Nutrition at The Renfrew Center of Philadelphia, detoxes can lead to low blood sugar, malnutrition, fatigue, dehydration, irritability, and a slowed metabolism, and they can even trigger disordered eating.
So, what exactly is Kourtney proposing we do to detox in 2018? Her first tip is to drink a smoothie made with "fresh produce that help detox your system," like avocados and pineapples. Then, she suggests eating a "detox salad" full of protein, vitamins, and Omega-3's — which is a good idea, but certainly not a detoxing silver bullet. Next, she recommends sweating in a sauna or sweatsuit to "rid yourself of toxins." If that's not enough, she links to a severe Ketogenic diet that she says she used when trying to remove mercury and lead from her body. And finally, she recommends slurping a detoxing soup made from beets.
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Those are quite a lot of extreme, scientifically unproven changes to make to your lifestyle in the name of detoxing (which, again, your body does all on its own). If you're looking to reboot your eating habits in the new year, why not try eating breakfast every day, or adding more fruits and veggies to your diet? (Or, better yet, simply commit to ignoring all of the noise about detoxing!)
In truth, there's nothing egregiously offensive about the habits that Kourtney suggests in her guide (she doesn't explicitly suggest cutting out specific foods in this post, though she does over-hype the ones that she believes have detoxing capabilities). But the whole fact that she calls it a "detox" is harmful, because it reinforces the myth that you need to detox your body in the first place — which could lead people to take unnecessarily drastic measures that may leave them worse off physically and mentally.
Despite all of this, there is one piece of advice about detoxing that Kourtney gets right: Underneath the headline for her guide, she wrote, "What works for me," and that is so key to remember. Just because you're a fan of Kourtney's no-nonsense attitude and life, doesn't necessarily mean you should follow the very specific (and kind of bogus) diet that works for her.
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