Monday. The favourite day of the week to ‘reboot’ your body and kick-start your latest diet, following another hedonistically gastronomic weekend. Life would not be worth living without the occasional indulgence. But regret soon rears its ugly head, when the jeans won’t zip up and the bathrooms scales creak under the weight of a bloated stomach.
Detoxes – Pseudo-science
The word ‘Detox’ now pops up everywhere. ”Lose 10kg with this 3-week Detox” and similar histrionic headlines vie for our attention. Like ‘superfoods’ – another clever marketing invention – detoxing has been hijacked by avaricious individuals and companies. There are now innumerable detox diets, salts, body wraps, teas, shakes, magnets and juices, often aggressively advertised after known periods of overindulgence, such as Christmas.
Is there any legitimacy to these claims, or is this another case of peddling pseudo-science? Do we really need to pop a tube up our back passage to cleanse us of nasties that lurk deep within? In short, no. Detoxes (commercially packaged poison removers) are indeed just hysterical nonsense.
Toxins can be introduced into the body by inhalation (breathing them in), ingestion (eating them) or application (absorbing them though our skin). Healthy bodies are perfectly adapted to dealing with any toxins we may ingest or inhale. Our liver, kidneys, gut, lungs, immune system and skin are constantly protecting us from dangerous intruders. We have exquisite, built-in mechanisms to detoxify and remove waste and toxins. If an infection overwhelms our body’s defences, then we get very ill, and to survive, we’ll likely need medication, such as antibiotics. Ergo, an antibiotic can be argued to be a useful detoxifier.
The detoxes that I am referring to in this article are all the bogus, often unregulated products, that are relentlessly marketed to an uninformed public. In a healthy body, the aforementioned organs efficiently and effectively deal with any toxins and render them harmless until they are excreted normally. The liver is one of our most important organs. It works hard to filter and detoxify the blood. It is, therefore, the organ that is primarily targeted by these industries, as evidenced by the popularity of ‘liver cleanses’. The truth is that a healthy liver is perfectly able to handle toxins without the need for a cleanse, herb or tincture.
Many of these cleanses are promoted as weight loss products, yet not backed by any reliable evidence. If you drink clear soup for a week, you will lose some weight. But as soon as you resume normal eating, the weight will pile back on, because you don’t have a healthy plan of action once the detox is over. Following a colonic cleanse, you will eat as usual and the colon will soon be re-filled with waste.
Detoxing should not be promoted as an antidote to an unhealthy lifestyle.
If your liver has been damaged by excessive alcohol or an infection, ‘liver cleanses’ will not reverse this damage – avoiding alcohol and treating the infection will. Sugar is a dose-dependent liver toxin – akin to alcohol. Our livers can happily handle a little of either, but too much and we’re in trouble. In fact, excess sugar can cause almost exact damage to the liver as excess alcohol.
An Alternative to Detoxing
Detoxing should not be promoted as an antidote to an unhealthy lifestyle. The best thing you can do for your liver and other organs is to stop consuming these toxins in the first place, or do what you can to minimise your exposure. Avoid highly processed food, moderate your alcohol intake, drink enough water, get enough sleep, stop smoking and clear out the toxic chemicals from your home and farm. Choose organic produce, as often as you can, to avoid harmful pesticides, and store grains in a cool, dry environment, to avoid contamination with mould which can harbour toxins.
There is no known way, to make something that works perfectly well in a healthy body, work better.
Commercial detoxes sell well, not because they work, but because they do not tell you to change your lifestyle. They offer the irresistible idea, that provided you use their products, you can eat or drink as much as you want. In my opinion, the smartest thing we can do to avoid diseases, or toxins for that matter, is prevention.
Your body is exquisitely more effective at dealing with toxins than your expensive detox tea. The idea that your liver or indeed any of your organs need to be purged of impurities is a ridiculous, expensive scam. There is no known way, to make something that works perfectly well in a healthy body, work better.
Until next time.
This piece was published in The Star, Kenya on 26th August 2019.