The detox myth debunked


detox myth

Above is an example of a rather absurd claim that is simply not true at all.

The New York Times has a nice article that very neatly sticks the knife right into the heart of the prevailing detox myth and then twists it a couple of times just to ensure that you got the message …

“It’s hard to understand because there is no good scientific evidence that a juice cleanse, or any other food for that matter, is particularly relevant to removing toxins,” he said.

This isn’t to say that drinking vitamin-rich, antioxidant-filled vegetable juice can’t be beneficial for one’s health, he added, or function as an effective tool for weight loss or resetting one’s habits. It’s the vague talk of toxins that reminds doctors of leeches.

… A juice diet rests the stomach, it claimed.

“Why does the stomach need resting?” she asked

She read further. Juices require less of the stomach’s digestive processing, it said.

“Who said that was beneficial?” she said.

… colon cleanses, which can come as herbal remedies in the form of pills or teas or blended drinks, and sometimes as enemas, don’t push out toxins any more than juice.

“I understand the intuitive appeal of using these colon cleanses — ‘Get the toxins out, make your abdomen feel better,’” Dr. Saddler said.

But that intuition leads one down the wrong road, scientifically.

Stool is actually beneficial to the lining of the colon. Increasingly, doctors are even tapping into its benefits, she said, for example transplanting stool from healthy people into the guts of sick people.

“The idea that stool is somehow poisonous and toxic is very misguided thinking,” she said.

“Detox” is a big Red Flag to watch out for

That article is spot on, and is indeed worth a read. Anybody claiming that they have something that will help you to detox should be treated with an appropriate degree of skepticism, because the claim that anything, apart from your kidneys and liver, will remove stuff that is toxic to you is talking complete BS.

The word “detox” is medical, but only in a very narrow sense. Fox example, if you are a drug addict and currently have a life-threatening addiction, then yes you perhaps do need a medical detox, and that requires professional medical help (which in reality is basically enabling you to cope with withdrawal as your body does the work of flushing out the drugs). Beyond that however is a lot of meaningless marketing hype. For anybody and everybody else, the idea that something will help you to detox is a word that is deployed by quacks and snake-oil salesmen to ensnare you into buying.

What exactly are these toxins that they are referring to, and can they name it and quantify them? Can they also point to any scientific research that verifies the claim being made. What exactly is wrong with your kidneys and liver that has prevented them from doing what millions of years of evolution have naturally selected them to do?

These claims can in theory be tested. All the claimant needs to do is to identify the specific toxins, then measure them both before and after the supposed cure and thus demonstrate that it really works. That however never happens because these claims are basically fraudulent.

The idea that you have within you toxins is persuasive, it taps into fear and so we get sold on the idea of buying diets, pills, gels, bath salts, beverages, juices, or massages to deal with these rather mysteriously elusive toxins. It is like this because it sells, and not because it works.

The entire concept of “superfoods” that can enable a detox is also highly questionable, and yes clearly there are some rather common sense things that you can do such as not smoking, getting regular exercise, and eating plenty of fruit and veg. However, the labelling of specific foods as having some almost magical ability to perform some form of detox on you steps over the line from reality into fantasy.

The bottom line is this, as long as you are getting the proteins, amino acids, fats, fibre, starches, vitamins and minerals, then your own immune system and body will do the job of keeping you healthy. There are no magical pills, diets, or other cleansing products that have ever been demonstrated to perform any kind of beneficial detox. Anybody attempting to sell you something that is claimed to be doing that is conning you.

The motivation to do this is perhaps understandable, we buy into “detox” because of the fear instilled within by the marketing, and others sell because it is very profitable. Our descendants may perhaps look back upon it all and think of it the same way that we think about leaches and blood letting.

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