1st January. The day most of the population resolves to eat healthier and be fitter, and we’re made to feel guilty for all the wonderful indulgences of the Christmas period. You need to “cleanse” yourself, “detox” your body, and “flush away” all those nasty toxins, to become a better, purer, new you, right?
Well, no. Hell no, actually.
A real “detox” actually means hospital treatment under life-threatening conditions, not drinking some cold-pressed, organic, green juice. Today’s wellness industry uses the word “detox” as a religious ritual of purification and cleansing, which coincides so perfectly with the concept of a fresh start, the beginning of a new year. But this is nothing but a clever marketing scam which will do no more than “detox” your wallet of money.
Detoxes claim that we accumulate toxins over time in our bodies, which are slowly poisoning us, and we need to purify ourselves of these toxins, particularly in modern city life. But what “toxins” do they actually remove? They don’t say. Because they don’t remove toxins.
These products claim to “aid the body’s natural detoxification process”, which usually refers to the kidneys, liver, and sometimes the gut (because the gut is the new answer to everything). Our bodies are constantly exposed to natural and synthetic chemicals (remember – everything is chemicals), and the liver and kidneys are incredibly well-equipped for dealing with all of this. Your liver is so incredible you could lose up to 80% of it and still be a healthy functioning human being, so just imagine how well your 100% present liver is doing. The liver and kidneys filter your blood and perform complex chemical reactions to remove any toxic substances by converting them into ones that can be easily excreted – such as converting ammonia into urea, which is excreted in the urine. Suggesting these organs need to be cleansed shows a serious misunderstanding of how the human body works.
In addition, there is no accumulation of “sludge” or “plaques” in your colon – just ask any gastroenterologist who devote their careers to looking inside colons. It’s a complete myth designed to make you part with your hard-earned cash.
Forever-present but never named toxins are also apparently to blame for a huge array of symptoms and diseases, but what is never explained is which toxins cause which symptoms/disease, nor the mechanism by which this happens. There’s a good reason for that, and that’s because (1) it takes a lot of scientific research to demonstrate this cause and effect (and let’s face it, these people generally don’t care about science), and (2) there’s no scientifically documented evidence to suggest that “detox” treatments have any medical benefit whatsoever.
Juice cleanses may give you lots of vitamins from all that fruit and veg, but the high sugar and low fibre may actually be doing you more harm than good, and the high levels of potassium actually forces your kidneys to work harder. Not to mention any weight you lose from it will just be water weight and will all be put on as soon as you stop juicing, with the potential for some added metabolic damage for good measure as your body thinks it’s starving. “But everyone says doing a juice cleanse is amazing!” Well of course they’re going to say that; they’re believing they’re doing something good for their bodies and that’s a powerful placebo effect.
Coffee enemas are another ridiculous technique employed to “detox your body”. Never mind the fact that many chemicals in coffee are known carcinogens (how putting carcinogens up your backside is supposed to cure cancer is totally beyond me), complications of coffee enemas include harmful bacteria in the bloodstream, rectal perforation, electrolyte imbalances, and even death.
Vitamin injections may seem harmless, but very high doses of vitamins (hypervitaminosis) can be just as harmful as vitamin deficiencies, with severe cases requiring hospitalisation.
Finally, the amount of “teatox” emails I receive on a regular basis is ridiculous. A tea is not a magic cure for weight-loss or for “cleansing” you of anything. Moreover, many contain laxatives, which you can easily become dependent on, and which may damage your gut.
The take-home message here is simple: “detoxes”, like all quick fixes, just don’t work. You can’t just undo a few weeks/months/years of bad habits by juicing for a week. Instead of spending several hundred £s on a juice cleanse, why not simply aim to incorporate an extra portion of vegetables every day for the next year, rather than falling for marketing scams. You do not need to “detox”, your body is doing that perfectly well by itself. You simply need to live a healthy lifestyle; but unfortunately that’s a concept that doesn’t sell well.
So here’s my proposed New Year’s Resolution for you: stop using the word “detox”, don’t fall for marketing scams, and just aim to live a healthy balanced lifestyle.