Hollywood actress Gwyneth Paltrow has extolled the virtues of a �50 hot chocolate.

London - You’ve taken the pills and potions, followed the special eating plan and sweltered in the body wraps.

Now you’re simply going to lie back and let your detox diet work its magic.

Or are you? Not if the latest report by a group of scientists is to be believed.

According to them, detox diets are a waste of time and money – and the only thing lost on them is your cash, they said.

They say that instead of subsisting on raw fruit and vegetables and shunning sugar and caffeine to cleanse the body of chemicals, all we need is a glass of water and a good night’s sleep.

A myth-busting guide on the chemicals that form part of our everyday lives states that our body is perfectly capable of protecting itself from life’s excesses. And it is a myth that the process can be speeded by special diets, body wraps or pills.

The gut stops many potential poisons getting into our system in the first place. And the liver deals with those that do.

The Making Sense Of Chemical Stories guide states: “This process does not occur any more effectively as a result of taking ‘detox’ tablets, wearing ‘detox’ socks, having a ‘detox’ body wraps, eating nettle root extract, drinking herbal infusions, following a special ‘detox’ diet or using any of the other products that and rituals that are promoted.”

It adds: “Save your money: Have a glass of tap water and a good night’s sleep.”

Although detoxing is particularly common at New Year, it is still popular at other times among those who feel they have over-indulged.

They hope that by avoiding “poisons” such as sugar and caffeine and purifying their systems, they will lose weight and gain energy.

Television presenter Carol Voderman has written a book about a 28-day diet plan and Hollywood actress Gwyneth Paltrow has extolled the virtues of a £50 (about R900) hot chocolate.

But Alan Boobis, a toxicologist at Imperial College London, who contributed to the guide, said: “The body’s own detoxification systems are remarkably sophisticated and versatile.

“They have to be, as the natural environment that we evolved in is hostile.” Others experts were more blunt. Dr John Hoskins, an independent consultant toxicologist, said: “The only thing that loses weight on a detox diet is your wallet.”

John Emsley, a chemical scientist and popular science writer, dismissed the idea of taking herbal teas or ‘fancy’ bottled waters as “nonsense”.

Catherine Collins, an NHS dietician, described detoxing as “a marketing myth” and a “silly concept”.

The guide, which was compiled by the charity Sense About Science, also urges people not to automatically assume that because something is a chemical it is dangerous.

It says that everything is made of chemicals – and that apples are made up of many more compounds than some brightly coloured children’s sweets. - Daily Mail