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Detox Diet Warnings
Detox Diet Dangers

Dangers of detox diets are in the news yet again with Dawn Page suffering permanent brain damage after following detox diet advice. Dietitian, Juliette Kellow investigates the safety of dietary advice and detox diets.

Detox Diet Dangers

By Dietitian, Juliette Kellow BSc RD

The dangers of detoxing have once again hit the headlines after a mum of two won a £810,000 payment after claiming an extreme detox diet left her suffering with brain damage and epilepsy.

Nutritional Therapist Recommends Detox Diet

After seeing a nutritional therapist, victim Dawn Page from Faringdon, Wiltshire, was advised to drink an extra four litres of water a day on top of her normal fluid intake and reduce her salt intake to prevent fluid retention and to help her lose weight.

Side Effects of Detox Diet

Within a few days, she started vomiting and less than a week after starting the diet suffered a massive epileptic fit that lead to permanent brain damage.

Barbara Nash, who reportedly has a diploma in natural nutrition and recommended the Amazing Hydration Diet, denied any fault and the settlement was paid without an admission of liability.

WLR says . . .

This sad case highlights just how unsafe detox diets can actually be. As a general rule, the more extreme, bizarre and unbalanced a plan sounds, the more dangerous it’s likely to be.

If a ‘diet’ recommends eating or drinking huge amounts of any single food, or conversely, recommends avoiding lots of different foods, including whole food groups, then it’s probably best avoided.

Detox Dangers

But this case doesn’t just highlight how severe diets can damage health, both in the short term and long term. It also highlights the importance of making sure you receive dietary advice from someone who is properly qualified. And to do this, it’s best to do a little background work.

To start with, you are guaranteed to receive safe advice that’s up-to-date and based on science fact rather than science fiction if you see a registered dietitian or RD.

Qualified Dietitian

The title ‘dietitian’ is legally protected by the Health Professions Council (HPC). This means only people who are properly qualified with a university degree of post-graduate qualification in the subject may use the title. Better still, dietitians work to a strict ethical code of conduct and this prevents them from giving inappropriate nutritional advice, recommending herbal supplements or performing diagnostic tests.

GP Referral

Your GP can refer you to a hospital or clinic-based dietitian on the NHS. If you prefer to see a dietitian privately, first check they are registered with the HPC by logging on to the HPC website

Unfortunately, it’s less straightforward with nutritionists. Unlike the term ‘dietitian’, the term ‘nutritionist’ isn’t legally protected. This means, in theory, anyone can call themselves a nutritionist, regardless of whether they have a properly recognised degree in the subject, a short course in alternative nutritional therapy or no qualification at all and just an interest in food!

Proper Qualifications

In an effort to separate properly qualified from unqualified or poorly qualified nutritionists, The Nutrition Society introduced a Voluntary Register of Nutritionists in April 2007.

Only fully qualified and experienced professionals are entitled to be included in this register and as a result hold the title Registered Nutritionist (RNutr) or Registered Public Health Nutritionist (RPHNutr).

Having said that, not all qualified nutritionists are registered on this list but it’s worth having a look if you’re planning on seeing a nutritionist privately. Visit

Legally Protected

In the future, things should become clearer as there’s a general push for the term ‘nutritionist’ – like ‘dietitian – to become legally protected. This means consumers will be able to feel reassured that they’ll get safe, sensible and balanced advice from a properly qualified professional.

Bizarre Advice

If you receive advice that sounds bizarre or extreme, it’s probably best to avoid it – or at least check with your GP before following it. And remember, there are no magic solutions for losing weight. A balanced diet that includes a wide range of foods combined with 30-60 minutes of aerobic activity every day is the best way to shape up. It might not sound particularly sexy, but it is guaranteed to keep you healthy!

Start a Free Trial Today

WLR has a wealth of information from properly qualified dietitians, Juliette Kellow BSc RD and Lyndel Costain BSc RD. Why not take a look at their advice in the research section of WLR by signing up for a 24 hour free trial.

Take our FREE trial »


Start a Free Trial Today

WLR has a wealth of information from properly qualified dietitians, Juliette Kellow BSc RD and Lyndel Costain BSc RD. Why not take a look at their advice in the research section of WLR by signing up for a 24 hour free trial.

Take our FREE trial »

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