Detox Water 101 – What it is, Health Benefits and Myths

Posted on Jun 19, 2016


There’s a lot of hype about the supposed health benefits of “detox water.”

Yes, staying hydrated is important for health.

Therefore, it’s often recommended that you drink eight glasses of water per day.

However, some people think adding extra ingredients to water boosts its health benefits.

The result, called detox water, is said to help your body get rid of toxins, improve your energy levels and help you lose weight.

Here is a detailed look at detox water. It separates the true health benefits from the myths.

detox water

What is Detox Water?

Detox water is water that has been infused with the flavors of fresh fruits, vegetables or herbs. It’s sometimes referred to as fruit-infused water or fruit-flavored water.

You can make detox water at home in lots of different ways, using any combination of fruits, vegetables and herbs that you like.

Because it’s made by infusing flavor, rather than juicing or blending, detox water contains very few calories. That makes it a popular drink for detox regimens like the “lemon detox” or “master cleanse.”

Detox water is also often recommended in weight loss plans, especially in place of high-sugar drinks like sugary soda and fruit juice.

Bottom Line: Detox water is made by infusing water with fruits, vegetables or herbs. You can make your own at home using a variety of flavors.

How to Make Detox Water

Four Jars of Fruit Infused Detox Water

Making detox water at home is very simple. All you need is water and a selection of fruits, vegetables and herbs.

Simply chop up your ingredients and add them to hot or cold water, depending on your preference. The more of an ingredient you use, the stronger the flavor will become.

If you’re making a cold drink, you can leave the detox water in the fridge for 1–12 hours to allow the flavors to infuse more deeply. Be sure to remove the ingredients after this time though, so they don’t begin to decompose.

If you’re in a hurry, crushing or bruising your fruit and herbs before using them can help release the flavors more quickly.

Here are some popular detox water recipe combinations:

Cucumber and mint.

Lemon and ginger.

Blackberry and orange.

Lemon and cayenne pepper.

Watermelon and mint.

Grapefruit and rosemary.

Orange and lemon.

Lemon and lime.

Strawberry and basil.

Apple and cinnamon.

Bottom Line: To make detox water, add fruits, vegetables and herbs to water and then let it stand. Crushing or bruising fruits and herbs can help release more of their flavors.

Health Claims About Detox Water

Detox water is said to have many health benefits, including:

Weight loss.

Toxin removal or detox.

Balancing the pH of the body.

Better digestive health.

Boosting immune function.

Improving mood.

Increasing energy levels.

Improving complexion.

The exact properties of detox water will vary depending on the ingredients you use and the strength of the infusion.

However, many of the health claims for detox water can be attributed to the water itself, rather than the ingredients it’s flavored with.

That’s because you don’t get that many nutrients from the ingredients in detox water, especially not compared to eating them in their whole form.

Bottom Line: Detox water has been claimed to help remove toxins, help with weight loss, balance your pH and boost your immune system.

Real Health Benefits

Below is a detailed look at the science behind detox water’s health claims. A few are valid, even if they are a little exaggerated in some instances.

Helps With Weight Loss

Drinking water may help you lose weight, and this applies to detox water too. Water has been shown to temporarily raise your metabolic rate, so you burn more calories.

Studies have shown that drinking 17 oz (half a liter) of water can increase your metabolic rate by up to 30% for about an hour (1, 2).

In fact, people who drink the recommended amount of water as part of a weight loss program tend to lose more weight than those who don’t (3, 4, 5, 6).

One study found that overweight adults who drank 17 oz (half a liter) of water before their meals lost 40% more weight than those who didn’t (7).

This can be partially explained by a rise in metabolism, but may also be due to the effect water has on your appetite. Drinking water has been linked to reduced hunger, so if you drink water before a meal, you may eat less (8, 9).

Improves Digestive Health

Hydration is important for digestive health and maintaining regular bowel movements. Chronic dehydration can cause constipation, which can make you feel bloated and sluggish (10, 11, 12, 13, 14).

Drinking plenty of water may help food pass smoothly through your gut and prevent you from becoming constipated.

Improves Mood and Energy Levels

Even mild dehydration can affect mood, concentration and energy levels.

Studies have shown that dehydration levels of around 1% can significantly decrease mood, reduce concentration span and cause headaches (15, 16, 17, 18).

One study looked at adults who consumed less than 41 oz (1.2 liters) of water per day. When they increased their water intake to 85 oz (2.5 liters) per day, they were happier, had more energy and felt calmer (19).

If you aren’t drinking enough, increasing your water intake could improve your mood and give you more energy.

Boosts Immune Function

This is one claim about detox water that may be a little exaggerated.

It’s true that eating fruits and vegetables and even fruit juices can help support your immune system (20, 21).

In particular, vitamin C has been shown to benefit your immune system when consumed on a regular basis (22, 23, 24, 25).

However, the amount of these nutrients that you would get from an infusion like detox water is likely to be minimal and highly variable.

Although it is theoretically possible, it’s unlikely detox water has any meaningful effect on immune function.

Bottom Line: Drinking detox water could help you lose weight, have better digestive health and make you happier. However, you will get all of these benefits from drinking regular water too.

Myths About Detox Water

There are also many myths surrounding detox water.

Some of these are not supported by science, but others have been downright shown to be false.

Myth 1: It Detoxifies Your Body

Detoxification is a popular claim for many diets, cleanses and nutrition products like detox water.

Detox products often claim to facilitate health and well-being by eliminating toxins from the body and aiding in weight loss.

However, both “toxins” and “detox” are vague terms that don’t really define what is eliminated or how it happens.

Your body has well-designed detox pathways that eliminate toxins from the body. There is currently no evidence that any product or diet speeds them up or makes them more efficient (26).

More details: Detox Diets 101: Do These “Cleanses” Really Work?

Myth 2: It Balances Your pH

“Alkalizing” foods and drinks are a popular dietary trend at the moment.

They are said to promote a more alkaline environment in the body. According to the acid-alkaline theory of disease, this will promote better health.

However, this theory isn’t supported by science, since it is impossible to alter the pH of your blood or cells through the foods you eat (27).

Myth 3: It Improves Your Complexion

As with many other detox products, some people claim that detox water flushes toxins from your skin and improves its appearance.

However, there is little evidence to back up these claims.

Drinking water will improve your skin’s hydration if you’re dehydrated. However, it won’t change the appearance of your skin unless the dehydration is severe (28, 29).

There is no evidence that detox water is more effective than plain water for this.

Bottom Line: Detox water won’t help you flush toxins from your body or make it more alkaline. There is also no evidence that it improves complexion.

Take Home Message

The idea that you can speed up and improve your body’s detox pathways by drinking detox water is nonsense.

That said, it is still a healthy drink with a few health benefits. Nevertheless, you could probably get most of these benefits from drinking regular water.

However, people often find plain water boring.

If infusing your water with fruits and vegetables means that you drink more water and less sugary drinks, then it can only be a good thing.

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