Are Cleanses Good for Kids? Risks of Detox Diets

Medically Reviewed on 3/9/2022
Are Cleanses Good for Kids
Cleanses may do more harm than good and are not recommended for children because they can cause serious nutritional deficiencies

Cleanses may do more harm than good and are not recommended for children because they can cause serious nutritional deficiencies. There are better ways to keep your children energized and healthy.

Growing children need fats and proteins for healthy tissues and brains. Cleanses tend to be low in essential nutrients, meaning that it can cause your child to miss out on important vitamins and minerals they need to be healthy and keep growing.

Can cleanses detoxify the body?

Many alternative medicine practitioners promote cleansing as a restorative program that may help boost immunity, aid weight loss, reduce fatigue, and improve digestive functions. Cleanses usually involve adhering to a strict diet or consuming juices and supplements that are supposed to remove toxins from the body.

However, the body is already equipped with a complex detoxification system that includes the liver, kidneys, lymphatic system, large intestine, and sweat glands. These organs work to break down and neutralize toxins so that they can be expelled through sweat, urine, and feces. So by fueling your body with foods rich in fiber, complex carbs, plenty of water, and probiotics, you can help your body naturally detox.

What is involved in cleanse or detox diet?

Cleanses or detox diets vary widely, but most of them involve a combination of:

  • Fasting
  • Juices
  • Restricting your diet to certain foods
  • Taking nutritional supplements
  • Special teas, herbs, or vitamins
  • Enemas, laxatives, or colon hydrotherapy (also called "colonic irrigation" or "colonics") to cleanse the colon

Is cleansing for kids safe?

Like many fad diets, there is no scientific evidence to back claims that cleanses or detox diets are safe or effective for children. Diet restrictions and fasting may actually do more harm than good, since these practices deprive growing children of important calories and nutrients. In some cases, detox diets can cause muscle loss even after a few days.

Many detox diets also use herbs or natural supplements that have not been approved by the FDA and can have negative effects on a child's developing metabolism, digestive system, and central nervous system.

You can support your child’s gut health and immune system by simply incorporating more greens and plant-based foods into their diet. Raw and fermented foods, as well as a good probiotic, can promote good digestive health and help facilitate your child’s natural detoxifying processes.

Despite its benefits, parents should use caution when engaging in intensive detoxification with their children.


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When does a child require a special diet?

If your child has frequent infections, digestive issues, or food allergies, you may want to discuss a diet plan with your pediatrician:

  • Toxin buildup or allergies can cause mucus to develop, resulting in frequent colds or infections.
  • Processed foods, refined grains, and refined sugars have been linked to obesity and other health issues.
  • Avoiding food allergens such as nuts and seafood may help relieve your child’s stomach discomfort if they have food allergies.

Tips for keeping your child healthy

  • Avoid unhealthy foods: Buy seasonal produce from locally available organic producers. Avoid preservatives and artificial sweeteners
  • Use nontoxic cooking tools: For heating and storing hot food, use glass, ceramic, or stainless-steel containers. To reduce the emission of harmful substances when cooking, use nontoxic pots and pans that are not scuffed.
  • Concentrate on nutrition: Children require a well-balanced diet that includes plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh eggs, raw dairy, and grass-fed meat to get the nourishment they require.
  • Encourage healthy gut flora: Probiotics are beneficial to a child's intestinal health and promote a strong immune system. Homemade yogurt, curd, and other probiotic foods can be added to your child’s diet.
  • Playing outdoors: Encourage your child to play outdoors. Regular exercise activates the lymphatic system, which aids in the removal of toxins, and Vitamin D helps the immune system function optimally.

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Medically Reviewed on 3/9/2022
Image Source: iStock Images

National Institutes of Health. “Detoxes” and “Cleanses”: What You Need To Know.

Jung, SJ., Kim, WL., Park, BH. et al. Effect of toxic trace element detoxification, body fat reduction following four-week intake of the Wellnessup diet: a three-arm, randomized clinical trial. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2020; 17: 47.