Does Fasting Release Toxins in The Body?

Q: I was wondering about fasting and its benefits for your metabolism and weight loss. Is it true that fasting will release toxins in the body?

Fasting has become a hot topic in the nutrition world — and for good reason. Research has shown that it’s associated with a variety of health benefits, including weight loss and reduced blood sugar, cholesterol, triglyceride, insulin, and inflammation levels (1, 2, 3).

What’s more, studies suggest that fasting and calorie restriction, in general, have beneficial effects on the aging process and may optimize cellular repair (4, 5).

Additionally, fasting may help enhance the production and activity of certain enzymes involved in detoxification, as well as promote the health of your liver, one of the main organs involved in detoxification (6, 7, 8).

However, it’s important to note that although fasting and calorie restriction may promote healthy detoxification, your body has an entire system that includes organs like the liver and kidneys, both of which constantly work to remove waste and toxins from your body.

In healthy people, all that’s needed to promote healthy detoxification is to support your body by following a nutrient-dense diet, staying properly hydrated, getting enough rest, and avoiding smoking, drug use, and excessive drinking.

Although “detoxing” via various methods — including following restrictive diets, taking certain supplements, and fasting — has become popular among those looking to optimize their health, there’s no evidence that using these practices is necessary for most people (9).

Keep in mind that although intermittent fasting regimens like the 16/8 method are relatively safe and typically not associated with harmful side effects, more extreme and prolonged fasting methods, such as multiple-day fasts or water fasts, can be dangerous (10, 11).

If you’re interested in trying out fasting, consult a knowledgeable healthcare provider to ensure its appropriateness and that you follow proper safety measures.