The detox myth: Don't fall for it
11 July 2016, 15:56
If there’s one thing modern humans like it’s a quick fix. We just love the idea of instantly magicking our lives better by using some sort of clever gimmick to circumvent drudgery and get fast results. Unfortunately, the human body just doesn’t work that way.
But even though actual doctors and scientists across the world have debunked detoxing, explaining how it’s useless at best and dangerous at worst, people still think they can somehow trick or manhandle their bodies into doing the impossible through silly juice fasts, nonsense supplements or bogus pads, poultices or patches.
As you know, so called “cleanses” are all the rage. We all know someone who’s survived on nothing but cabbage broth for a month or whose only allowed kale and celery juice until their “energy levels pick up”. According to Dame Magazine, this craze began in the 1940s when alternative medicine guru, Stanley Burroughs launched The Master Cleanse which consists of drinking only water, maple syrup, lemon and cayenne pepper for 7 to 10 days. This and other juice only diets are supposed to rid the body of toxins and cleanse the system.
Only thing is – no one is being very clear on what these so-called toxins are. Sure, toxins exist, but our bodies are perfectly capable of dealing with them. Like Professor Edzart Ernst said when speaking to The Guardian: “If toxins did build up in a way your body couldn’t excrete, you’d likely be dead or in need of serious medical intervention.”
This is why we have a liver, kidneys, skin and lungs. Our bodies are perfect detox machines. If you care for your body properly, detoxing happens automatically.
Of course some foods are good for you and some bad – check out our list of healthy, nutritious, delicious snack options here – but this should be part of your lifestyle and integrated into your daily diet. You need vitamins and minerals and amino acids and fats and sugars daily to keep your body happy and functioning. A couple of weeks of carrot sticks just won’t cut it. In fact, the lack of nutrients and the strain on your digestive system could actually make things worse for you.
So before you fall into the “I am so unhealthy and bloated I need to detox stat” trap, remember:
• Detox is only a medical term when referring to getting off drugs or alcohol.
• Cleansing your body of vague, unidentified toxins is a marketing strategy, not a health one.
• There is no scientific evidence that detox diets work
What to do instead:
• Feed your body instead of depriving it. Your liver is the main organ that neutralises harmful substances, so look after it.
• Alcohol can harm your liver, so take at least two days in a row off from alcohol to give your liver time to adjust.
• Avoid fatty deposits on your liver that can lead to inflammation and scarring by eating enough fresh vegetables and fruit and doing exercise and therefore maintaining a healthy weight.