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Westminster academic debunks myth of ‘fat burning’ detox drinks

Biosciences 1 June 2016

healthy fruit drinks in a jar

Professor Jimmy Bell of the Department of Life Sciences at the University of Westminster has warned that the concept of “detox drinks” having “fat burning” properties is misused by the diet industry.

Although very popular, Professor Bell explains that though the concept of fat burning when the body utilises fat as an energy source instead of carbohydrates does exist, often claims surrounding so-called detox drinks can lead to people buying useless and dangerous products online. Professor Bell stresses that “the truth is that none have been clinically proven to actually work.”

Some animal and lab studies have shown that foods such as chickpeas and lentils do have the ability to affect the appetite and digestion by fermenting in the colon, however such mechanisms are yet to be proven in robust human trials.

Professor Bell says: “So-called detox foods to counterbalance a toxic diet will not work. A detox food is not like water to fire. If you want to ‘detox’ yourself stop consuming unhealthy diets – you don’t need detox food. We want to eat what we want with no consequences and think that ‘detox’ will clear all the problems, but that will not happen. Staying healthy is a lifetime struggle.”

In regards to lemon and fruit-infused water, Professor Bell says no trials have proven that it can or can’t burn fat, but explains: “I can’t think of a mechanism where lemon water would have an effect on body fat. Although drinking lemon or fruit infused water isn’t harmful, the outcome is that it won’t have significant impact on an individual’s health.”

Professor Jimmy Bell is the director of the University of Westminster’s Research Centre for Optimal Health (ReCOH), which aims to create a partnership between basic research, imaging, computing and psychology to determine the molecular and physiological events that lead to attainment and maintenance of optimal health.

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