Catherine Saxelby

Nutritionist, Blogger, Award Winning Author
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    Product snapshot: Tomato pasta sauces

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  • 26 April 2023

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  • 29 March 2023

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Detox kits - why they don't work

Written by Catherine Saxelby on Tuesday, 09 April 2013.
Tagged: Calories, diet, diet foods, dieting, diets, fat loss, fluids, food trends, hunger, liquid diet, overweight, prebiotic, review, salad, vegetables, water, weight loss

Detox kits - why they don't work
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Detox diets and detox 'cleansing' kits are big sellers. They promise lots of things - to purify the body, remove 'wastes' and eliminate 'toxins' (which are never really defined) and rejuvenate the liver. They say they can improve a sluggish digestion, revitalise the skin and boost your energy. Detox has become so accepted in our time-poor, instant world that many people embark on one whenever they've overdone the excesses of life and feel the need to refresh and revitalise. After Christmas is a classic time.

Detox kits and what's in them

Many companies have capitalised on the detox craze – there's juicers, books and detox recipes. But sales of the detox kits in pharmacies and online stores are huge.

Detox Drink 4321

All are similar in concept and are designed to support you when on a detox diet. Inside you'll generally find 3 or 4 separate packs of powders, tablets or liquid (like the 4321 Slim Detox drink base shown above), each meant to address a different organ of the body. For instance, they are meant to look after the:

1. Stomach

Herbals offers things like ginger, fennel, Globe artichoke, Cats claw, peppermint, clove, Black walnut as well as bioflavonoids and minerals such as potassium or magnesium. These are meant to prepare the digestive tract for work, stimulate appetite and increase the flow of gastric juices. Traditional naturopathic remedies but will they help you shed weight? I doubt it!

2. Liver

Detox Acticleanse brochureTraditional liver tonic herbs like milk thistle, dandelion, barberry, schizandra, choline or taurine feature in the liver section of most kits. They are supposed to 'detoxify' the liver and get it functioning properly again. Some claim to help liver cells to regenerate. But who knows really?

3. Colon

Your colon (bowel) is given a good cleanout with mild laxatives such as senna, casacara or rhubarb. Some kits offer Artemisia absinthium (wormwood), a herb known to destroy gut parasites, and Hydrastis Canadensis (goldenseal) and Inula helenium (elecampane), two well-known digestive stimulants and bitter stomach herbs. See Acticleanse brochure at right.

There are soluble fibres like psyllium, slippery elm, oat bran, guar and pectin. They sound like you'd lose weight on your detox plan thanks to their laxative effect but in reality the actual quantity of fibre present is quite low – often less than 1 gram per dose. Considering you get 5 to 6g of fibre from a tablespoon of wheat bran or around 3 g from a spoonful of psyllium powder (as Metamucil), you can see you're not getting a great deal of fibre from the detox tablets. Hardly worth the price.

4. Intestinal

'Gut-friendly' bacteria - acidophilus or Bifido – are included in some kits to maintain healthy levels of bacteria in the intestines, which can promote proper digestion and bowel health. The bacteria are usually accompanied by a prebiotic with fancy-sounding names like inulin or high-amylose starch which acts as its food supply. See Blackmores Detox Kit below as an example.


Detox kit Blackmores collage 

Do the kits work?

Not without you following a diet for more than a few days!  However I was surprised to discover they have two unintended benefits and one serious limitation :

  • You take anywhere from 8 to 12 tablets each day (or drink 1 litre of some foul-tasting concoction), usually before meals, but sometimes in between meals as well. In contrast to a food plan, the constant taking of tablets or drinks act as a mental reminder that you're on a special regime. Their key role is to motivate and focus you to stay on track (non-food "reinforcers"). Since there are so many different tablets at different times of the day, it's an idea to make a little fridge chart to remind yourself to take them.
  • You've paid a lot of money, which is another motivator. The kits range from A$49 for a 10-day supply to A$100 for a 15-day regimen.
  • Limitation: The quantities of herbs are not significant enough to have an effect. If you truly believe herbs can help, I think you're better off seeing a qualified herbalist and getting the correct dosage made up for your age and weight.

 The bottom line

  • You don't NEED to spend your money on a kit - without special pills or drinks - to detox.
  • The kit is only one small part of a detox program – and it's the easiest part! You simply swallow the tablets or the liquid before or during your meals. The hard bit is giving up your usual foods, not going out and just living on fruit, juices, vegetables, tea and water.
  • If you do decide to try a detox kit, look for one that's simple and easy to remember to take (some require you to take so many tablets it's hard to remember when and how many). As they contain so many combinations of herbs, fibres and vitamins, it's hard to give definite guidelines. Price is not always the best guide so stick to reputable brands and steer clear of over-exaggerated claims.
Catherine Saxelby About the author

About the Author


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Catherine Saxelby's My Nutritionary

Winner of the Non-Fiction Authors Gold award


Catherine Saxelby has the answers! She is an accredited nutritionist, blogger and award-winning author. Her award-winning book My Nutritionary will help you cut through the jargon. Do you know your MCTs from your LCTs? How about sterols from stanols? What’s the difference between glucose and dextrose? Or probiotics and prebiotics? What additive is number 330? How safe is acesulfame K? If you find yourself confused by food labels, grab your copy of Catherine Saxelby’s comprehensive guide My Nutritionary NOW! 


  • Product snapshot: Tomato pasta sauces

    Product snapshot: Tomato pasta sauces

    18 September 2023 by, Catherine Saxelby

    What’s in your favourite tomato pasta sauce, and how much of it? Here are the most popular sauces reviewed for your reading pleasure.

    I’ve rated nine of the most popular tomato pasta sauces in terms of their nutrition, ingredient lists and jar size. You’ll find many of these in your local supermarket. The sauces are ranked:

    • from Italian (Italy grows the reddest full-flavoured tomatoes) to Australian
    • per 100 grams, which is equivalent to 3½ ounces (the standard for comparing food products)
    • by serving size (varies between brands but is generally 100–175 g in size)
    • by ingredient list, jar size and where made (with each product’s website as the source)

    The bottom line

    When you’re next out shopping, run your eyes down the per 100 g column and look for products containing less than 400 mg sodium AND less than 5 g fat (which equals 5% fat). Most of the brands are below these levels. I like Barilla, Sacla, Leggo’s, La Gina and Mutti – but that’s just me!

    Read more
  • Product Review: Low-sugar alcoholic ginger beer

    Product review: Low-sugar alcoholic ginger beer

    1 March 2023 by, Catherine Saxelby

    Want something to drink before dinner? Something that’s LOWER in alcohol than wine? To match his beer? Then look no further than Bundaberg’s low-sugar alcoholic ginger beer.

    You can drink Bundaberg low-sugar ginger beer straight from the can, or pour it into a long glass over ice with a slice of lime.


  • Product snapshot: Khorasan Macaroni

    Product snapshot: Berkelo’s Khorasan Macaroni

    14 September 2022 by, Catherine Saxelby

    I’m loving this macaroni from Berkelo. I was sent a sample for Whole Grain Week 2022 by the Grains Legume Nutrition Council. I cooked it up and found that it was just divine! Read on for more …

  • Product Review: super-high-oleic-safflower-oil

    Product review: Super high-oleic safflower oil

    11 May 2022 by, Catherine Saxelby

    “What does super high-oleic mean?” I hear you ask.  Also, “I haven’t heard of safflower for ages. What’s the deal?” Read on and all will be explained.

  • Product Review: Healthy Life Food Tracker

    Product review: Healthy Life Food Tracker

    6 April 2022 by, Catherine Saxelby

    When I was first asked to write this review, I thought, Not another tracker.

    After all, there have been several in recent years, such as My Fitness Pal and Everyday Diet Diary. But this one is different. It works by using your Everyday Rewards card AND your shop at Woolworths.

  • Product review: Lite n' Easy

    Product review: Lite n' Easy

    20 October 2021 by, Catherine Saxelby

    With home delivery on the rise, this post is reviewing none other than that stalwart Lite n’ Easy. We all know their meals are good for weight loss (which we all need after COVID-19!), but did you know they’re also good for general health and wellbeing ? Eating well to nourish yourself – putting your mental health and wellbeing at the forefront – is gaining momentum. Lite n’ Easy meals also ensures you satisfy your need for vitamins, minerals, fibre and phyto-compounds, such as sterols and carotenoids.

    clipboardThis post has been sponsored by Lite n' Easy.  


  • Product review:  Birds Eye Plant Based range

    Product review: Birds Eye Plant Based range

    15 September 2021 by, Catherine Saxelby

    When you think of Birds Eye, their frozen peas and fish fingers probably come to mind. But I bet you’d never think of plant-based products!

    clipboardThis post has been sponsored by Birds Eye. 

Healthy Weight Loss

  • Intermittent fasting vs daily calorie restriction

    Intermittent fasting vs daily calorie restriction

    3 May 2023 by, Catherine Saxelby

    As you probably know already, intermittent fasting (IF) has gained favour as an alternative regimen to daily caloric restriction (DCR). Fasting is shown to extend the lifespan of rats, and has been associated with metabolic benefits in humans, yet the results so far have been inconsistent. So, which regimen is best for healthy weight loss?

    Read more
  • The lifestyle diet craze

    The lifestyle diet craze

    15 March 2023 by, Catherine Saxelby

    What sort of a diet should you follow to lose that excess weight? These days, it’s pretty confusing with high-protein Keto advocates clashing with plant-protein followers … as well as intermittent fasters, juice-only dieters, no-carb dieters and no-animal (aka plant-based) dieters. Plus all the ads for anti-hunger supplements, meal-replacement shakes and home-delivered meals, more of which somehow appear every day. So, what sort of diet should YOU follow to lose that excess?

  • Protein shakes for weight loss

    Protein shakes for weight loss

    9 November 2022 by, Catherine Saxelby

    These days, protein shakes aren’t bought by just body builders – they’re so popular that you can readily buy a 400 g tub at your local supermarket or service station. And with tempting claims such as ‘Facilitates muscle toning’, ‘Contains transformation-making protein’ and ‘Tastes incredible, mixes easily’, why wouldn’t you grab one? But protein shakes aren’t the magic answer to all your weight-loss woes. Let’s take a look at what you get for your money.

    Guest post by dietitian Zoe Wilson APD

  • What is your relationship with food and eating?

    How to beat those cravings

    20 January 2021 by, Catherine Saxelby

    Many of us have cravings from time to time and for different reasons. One thing is certain, they can sabotage all your best efforts at a healthy diet and/or weight loss. The good news? You CAN beat them. I’ll tell you how.

  • What is your relationship with food and eating?

    How to lose weight WITHOUT going on a diet

    14 October 2020 by, Catherine Saxelby

    The word 'diet' is a turn-off for most people. It sounds hard, unpleasant and unpalatable. Losing weight doesn’t have to be hard AND it doesn’t have mean sticking to a 'diet'. You can forget Paleo, Keto, Vegan and Raw, Gluten-free and Intermittent Fasting. To lose weight, you don’t have to follow any specific diet. What you need is simple, healthy, nutritious food and a few tips and tricks.

  • What IS a healthy balanced diet for weight loss?

    What IS a healthy balanced diet for weight loss?

    16 September 2020 by, Catherine Saxelby

    Healthy weight loss happens when you lose weight slowly and steadily (around 1 kg or 2 pounds weight loss a week). Your goal is to lose weight while still getting your essential nutrients but from smaller portions. You certainly don’t want to be tired with no energy! That’s why you need regular healthy meals and snacks on hand to ensure your vitamins, minerals, omega-3s and fibre needs can be easily met. There is a new range of healthy weight loss meals available and it’s one that I’d like to recommend. With these ready meals, you’ll say goodbye to meal planning, shopping, meal preparation and cooking.

    This post is sponsored by Chefgood 

  • Kitchen make-over for the New Year

    Kitchen make-over for the New Year

    8 January 2020 by, Catherine Saxelby

     “This year, I'm going to lose weight!”, or “This year I’m opting for a healthier lifestyle!” Is your 2020 New Year's resolution something like one of these? If so, how is it going to happen?