Detox diets that promise you weight loss, glowing skin and hair, and overall health benefits, do little except burn a hole in your pocket, a report, called Making Sense of Chemical Stories, by Sense About Science, a charitable trust that advocates evidence-based approach to scientific and technological developments, has said.

The report, which will be published towards January end, added that the best way to detox is to drink enough water and hit the sack early every night. Calling detox solutions a waste of money, Sense About Science director Tracey Brown said, “When harmful chemicals do enter the body, the liver acts as an extraordinary chemical factory, usually combining them with its own chemicals to make a water soluble compound that can be excreted by the kidneys. The body thus detoxifies itself. The body is rehydrated with ordinary tap water. It is refreshed with a good night's sleep.”

Brown added that detox tablets, detox socks, detox body wraps and other detox remedies and diets have no control whatsoever in regulating the body's excretionary mechanism. “They waste money and sow confusion about how our bodies, nutrition and chemistry actually work,” she said.

According to the report, the human body has strong detox mechanisms to expel microorganisms and toxins that might have entered. Referring to detox promises as 'mumbo jumbo', the authors of the report said that it is virtually impossible to lead a 'chemical-free life'.

“The body's own detoxification systems are remarkably sophisticated and versatile. They have to be, as the natural environment that we evolved in is hostile. It is remarkable that people are prepared to risk seriously disrupting these systems with unproven detox diets, which could well do more harm than good,” said Alan Boobis, a toxicologist from the Imperial College of London.

Most propagating such diets claim that foods like fruits, vegetables and herbal teas should be taken in large amounts and alcohol, dairy products, eggs, fish, meat, salt, sugar and processed foods should be done away with to detox. Dr Rob Hicks, a nutrition expert, said that such claims were false because veggies like cabbage and onions pack more toxins than do fish and meat. He cautioned that many teens and pregnant women who fall prey to such claims might actually be doing themselves harm by depriving their bodies of different kinds of nutrients available in different kinds of foods.

“The concept of detox is a marketing myth rather than a physiological entity. The idea that an avalanche of vitamins, minerals, and laxatives taken over a two to seven day period can have a long-lasting benefit for the body is also a marketing myth,” said Catherine Collins, the chief dietician of St George's Hospital Medical School in London.

Some experts, however, have rubbished Sense About Science's claims and defended detox diets. Dr Robert Verkerk, of the Alliance for Natural Health, said, “Sense About Science is utterly misinformed if it thinks there is limited or no scientific evidence showing that particular natural products are able to promote particular metabolic processes that accelerate detoxification or excretion.”

He added that there was evidence that showed 'specific herbs and forms of fiber' were effective in regulating the body's metabolism. Added dietician Jane Gray, “Following a detox can help change people's bad eating habits and reeducate them about food. As long as they still have a varied diet, eat enough and get all the required nutrients, it can help improve people's health.”