Detox – the truth

kidney-and-liverThe truth is, your body is very good at detox.  The body has the liver and the kidneys tirelessly working to ‘clean’ the blood, maintain pH and all sorts of clever stuff.  Between them they are extremely good at ridding our body of things we don’t need, things that are harmful and waste products of metabolism and maintaining homeostasis crucial to our body working.

Some detox regimes are simply eating well by another name.  A detox saying eat more veg and fruit, drink less alcohol and more water, cook a bit more from scratch, eat a bit less stuff from your local takeaway specialising in deep fried fare – you know the usual quite boring but sensible messages.  No problem there!

But usually there are the usual things to avoid – gluten, dairy, meat – often limiting whole food groups.  Problem!!  Cutting out whole food groups, sometimes only eating or maybe drinking very limited foods for a while is not going to detox you.  You will probably lose weight but not in a healthy sustainable way.

Then there is the list of expensive additions to the diets both ‘superfoods’ and a range of supplements.  Some additions are fine – essentially a vegetable, berry or seed  that contribute to fibre or veg intake with that ‘superfood’ tag.  You know, the healthy food with great PR with a price to go with it.  If you enjoy them and can afford them no problem.  The more run of the mill, seasonal (therefore cheaper) veg or frozen/canned/dried veg and fruit are just as good – get a variety, there is no need to break the bank or trawl round obscure health food shops!

A range of products have ‘detox’ on their label – extracts, teas, herbal products, supplements that have no evidence base for benefit or been fully tested for adverse effects.  Some preparations are advocated by wellness gurus with no scientific background at all.  Just because something is natural and made from a herb or plant doesn’t automatically equal ‘safe’, especially when it has been concentrated.  Some of the most poisonous things on earth are derived from plants.

Other detox methods suggest consuming only liquids for a few days or fasting.  Consuming lots of teas and herbal infusions or only smoothies etc.  The combinations are endless.

The whole detox concept is very appealing.  We eat indulgently and we feel bad about our indulgence – particularly after Christmas.  This idea that purging and cleaning ourselves up from the inside to quickly recover from our naughty eating is easily packaged, presented in a cloak of plausible pseudoscience.  We feel that all the extra effort somehow has to be doing us good.  Most ‘detox’ regimes result in weight loss but that is because you end up eating very little – it isn’t the positive product of the detox.

If your body was failing at the detox process then you would be pretty ill.  It would mean that your organs were failing.  So instead of the ‘detox’, put that effort in tackling those little bad habits, creating new habits that fit in with your lifestyle and your family.  That the family can all benefit from.  Start with the small steps to overall better eating.  Small steps, habit change, achievable steps, no drastic diets and yes watch the alcohol – we know that too much alcohol can damage that detox power house that is the liver.

Want to read more then this summary on detox diets by the British Dietetic Association tells you everything you need to know and this  Guardian article is worth a look too.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Kenneth T. says:

    So many detox products are sold at the local health food store, it makes my head spin just thinking about it.

    1. Detox tag sells and make profit, it suggests that by eating this or using that we will be healthier, fixed or protected from nasty things. But most of them have no evidence to back it up. Some products are harmless, pleasant, refreshing etc but others are potentially harmful.

      There are regulations about claims made on products but this is so hard to police.’ Detox ‘ should be left as a medical term used in hospitals for medical treatments necessary for real toxins that are in someone’s body that the liver and kidney can’t deal with.

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