The idea that you can wash away your calorific sins from the fast-food lifestyles and leave your organs squeaky clean and raring to go – is a scam. It’s a pseudo-medical concept that is designed only to make us buy things.
Edzard Ernst, emeritus professor of complementary medicine at Exeter University says:
“Let’s be clear,there are two types of detox: one is respectable and the other isn’t.
1.The respectable one is the medical treatment of people with life-threatening drug addictions.
2.The other is the word being hijacked by entrepreneurs, quacks and charlatans to sell a bogus treatment that allegedly detoxifies your body of toxins you’re supposed to have accumulated.”
If toxins are build up in your body you’d likely be dead or in need of serious medical intervention.He also says that :
– “The healthy body has kidneys, a liver, skin, even lungs that are detoxifying as we speak.There is no known way – certainly not through detox treatments – to make something that works perfectly well in a healthy body work better.”
Thanks to celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow and Oprah Winfrey, detoxing has become big business. Rich Peppiatt thinks he’s found the solution to our detoxing obsession … and it tastes a bit like liquified animal.
In 2009, a network of scientists from UK charity Sense about Science contacted the manufacturers of 15 products for detoxification which were ranged from dietary supplements to smoothies and shampoos. When the scientists asked for evidence behind the claims, not one of the manufacturers could define what they meant by detoxification, nor could name the toxins.
It’s hard to admit but if you look around you will see that shelves of health food stores are still packed with products bearing the word “detox” – detoxifying tablets, tinctures, tea bags, face masks, bath salts, hair brushes, shampoos, body gels and even hair straighteners .
Seven-day detox diet will make you lose weight, but that’s nothing to do with toxins, it’s because you eat less.
Then there’s colonic irrigation- inserting a hose up your bottom and wash them all away but many doctorswarn against having the procedure done because it can perforate your bowel.
Other tactics are more insidious like tablets with polymerising agent that turns your faeces into something like a plastic.
“It’s a scandal,” fumes Ernst. “It’s criminal exploitation of the gullible man on the street and it sort of keys into something that we all would love to have – a simple remedy that frees us of our sins, so to speak. It’s nice to think that it could exist but unfortunately it doesn’t.”
A detox from alcohol is a good thing? “It’s definitely good to have non-alcohol days as part of your lifestyle,” says Catherine Collins, an NHS dietitian at St George’s Hospital. “It’ll probably give you a chance to reassess your drinking habits if you’re drinking too much. But the idea that your liver somehow needs to be ‘cleansed’ is ridiculous.”
Drinking too much can overwhelm enzymes in the liver and the acetaldehyde buildup will lead to liver damage. Moderate and occasional drinking, can have a protective effect. Collins points that numerous of studies have shown that teetotallers and those who drink alcohol excessively have a shorter life.
“We know that a little bit of alcohol seems to be helpful,” she says. “Maybe because its sedative effect relaxes you slightly or because it keeps the liver primed with these detoxifying enzymes to help deal with other toxins you’ve consumed. That’s why the government guidelines don’t say, ‘Don’t drink’; they say, ‘OK drink, but only modestly.’ It’s like a little of what doesn’t kill you cures you.”
Broccoli help the liver out but, as all brassicas – sprouts, mustard plants, cabbages – contains cyanide so it provides a tiny bit of poison that, like alcohol, primes the enzymes in your liver to deal better with any other poisons.
Collins guffaws :
– “Most people think that you should restrict or pay particular attention to certain food groups, but this is totally not the case.The ultimate lifestyle ‘detox’ is not smoking, exercising and enjoying a healthy balanced diet like the Mediterranean diet.”
Try to imagine a Mediterranean diet: meats, fish, olive oil, cheeses, salads, wholegrain cereals, nuts and fruits. Every one of this food is rich with: protein, amino acids, unsaturated fats, fiber, starches, vitamins and minerals.It will keep the body – and your immune system functioning perfectly.
So why, do you feel the need to punish yourself to be healthy?
Susan Marchant-Haycox is a London psychologist and she says that:
– “Trying to tie detoxing in with ancient religious practices is clutching at straws.You need to look at our social makeup over the very recent past. In the 70s, you had all these gyms popping up, and from there we’ve had the proliferation of the beauty and diet industry with people becoming more aware of certain food groups and so on.”
“The detox industry is just a follow-on from that. There’s a lot of money in it and there are lots of people out there in marketing making a lot of money.”
Many of consumer are not well informed:
– “People assume that the world is carefully regulated and that there are benign institutions guarding them from making any kind of errors. A lot of marketing drip-feeds that idea, surreptitiously. So if people see somebody with apparently the right credentials, they think they’re listening to a respectable medic and trust their advice.”
– “Ask trading standards what they’re doing about it. Anyone who says, ‘I have a detox treatment’ is profiting from a false claim and is by definition a crook. And it shouldn’t be left to scientists and charities to go after crooks.”