So many different products promise to detoxify or cleanse your body of harmful chemicals as well as help you lose weight. However, not only is the concept behind most detoxes a MYTH it’s quite possibly DANGEROUS for you as well. Read on and become enlightened…
What is a “Detox”?
The concept of detoxifying the body has been with us for centuries. Ancient Greeks and Egyptians believed that foods can get putrid in the body and create toxic substances. Colon cleansing and even coffee enemas – where water or coffee is forced back into the body via the anus – were common treatments and even popular in the 1920s and 30s. But according contemporary science, there is no evidence colon cleansing has any benefit except as preparation for medical procedures. The Mayo Clinic warns that colon cleansing can sometimes be harmful, leading to dehydration, infections, and even death.
There is, however, a real type of “detox” but it is for drug and alcohol addiction, not foods or parasites that have become lodged in the body. The term detoxification in this use comes from what was called the “autotoxin theory” by George E. Pettey, who thought that opiates stimulated production of toxins in the body. This concept has since been discredited, but the word “detox” survived.
Why You Don’t Need a Detox
Some supplement companies will try to scare you by saying there are parasites or bacteria living in your intestines and a detox is the only way to get them out. First, you should know that everyone has bacteria in their gut that help digest food, fight disease, and keep us healthy.
Second, while human beings can get intestinal parasites (and they are scary and gross), it is relatively uncommon in the United States. If you have travelled to a third world country with poor sanitation and have diarrhea, nausea, or bloody stools, you may have contracted one, but don’t rush to the herbal supplement store without first talking to your physician. The University of Maryland recommends drug therapies to kill parasites, but says a diet of pumpkin, fiber, as well as zinc and vitamin C may also help get rid of the nasty buggers.
Here’s another reason: your body already has built-in detoxifiers. They are called your liver, your kidneys, your lungs, intestines, and the largest organ in your body – your skin. “There is no known way – certainly not through detox treatments – to make something that works perfectly well in a healthy body work better,” Edzard Ernst, a professor of complimentary medicine was quoted as saying in an article in the Guardian about the myth of detox.
And what exactly these “toxins” are is also unclear. A UK-based group called Sense About Science examined 15 products that used the word “Detox” in their name and they all had different definitions as to what a detox meant and no evidence to back up their claims.
Dangers of Liquid Detox Diets
Still, there are many proponents in “natural medicine” as well as supplement companies that claim you can go on a liquid detox diet for a week or two and not only cleanse your body of toxins but also lose weight as well. But while you may experience some weight loss, there are many dangers associated with these cleansing fasts.
First, your body needs solid foods to survive. According to WebMD, while a liquid diet of juiced or blended fruits and veggies may help with weight loss, this is usually temporary and you’ll regain it unless you change your eating habits. Also, solid foods have fiber and if you don’t eat enough of them whole you can get constipated.
We’d also like to point out when you drink a lot of fruit smoothies you can increase your risk of diabetes and weight gain. Blended up fruits contain a lot of sugars and a study of 43,000 adults who drank 2 or more servings of fruit juice had a 29% greater risk of diabetes vs. those that didn’t.
And “master cleanse” diets like a lemon juice-maple syrup blend don’t do anything in the long term either. According to Harvard Health, studies show that after these types of diets are over, rapid weight gain can follow. Lacking the proper nutrients can also lead to dizziness and dehydration.
The Healthy Way to “Detox”
Fortunately, there is a healthy way to “detox” and it doesn’t involve any pills, sugary drinks, or putting anything up your you-know-where. It simply involves eating a sensible diet and getting plenty of exercise. Arrosti Rehab Centers outlined a good way to feel better in their article entitled Debunking the Detox Myth and it involves avoiding excess sugars, stop eating junk foods (fried or processed), drinking lots of water, and not skipping meals. Dr. Mark Hyman has similar recommendations, and points the finger primarily at too much sugar for making people FLC (feel like crap).
- There is no such thing as “detox” except when it comes to getting off of drugs and alcohol. And even then the use of the word “detox” is not really correct.
- There is no standard definition of what a “detox” really is or what “toxins” are being removed.
- Liquid detox diets work only temporarily and can actually lead to weight gain or diabetes.
- Colon cleansing is another dangerous detox myth.
- If you want to feel healthier, avoid junk foods, drink lots of water, and get regular exercise.
- Avoid any products or diets that use the word “Detox”!
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