The Power of Detox?

In recent years, many products and diets have flooded the market claiming to detox our body of everyday toxins. It has turned into a recent craze, with a growing number of advertisements, celebrity endorsements, articles, social media etc. urging us to get rid-off the toxins that we have been exposed to through pollution in the environment, processed foods, drinks, synthetic chemicals in everyday products and heavy metals. Such toxins, we’re told will negatively impact our health and result in illnesses unless we take precautions and “detox” ourselves. But does the notion of flushing toxins out of our system within days do what it says?

Let’s understand what ‘detox’ really means. In a true medical sense, it is referred to as removing harmful and addictive substances from our body, such as drugs, alcohol and poison. But more recently, the term ‘detox’ has been promoted for completely different matters from moderate to more extremes– such as diet detox, foot detox, intestinal cleansing/ colon irrigation, oxygen detox, detox pills and tea which often contain laxatives, diuretics to extreme liquid only diets. Anyone here for a juice cleanse?

Our body is a highly developed and sophisticated system of liver, kidneys, lungs, skin and digestive system including gut microbiome that work around the clock to eliminate any wastes and ‘toxins’ naturally. If these processes were not working, we would either need serious medical intervention or likely be dead. So why then are people being scammed by the idea of detoxing? Let’s look at few of the promoted detox treatments:

Detox Diets

These can include from juice cleanse, low-calorie diets, fasting for 1-3 days, liquid diet, 20 to 1-day detox diets etc. Many consumers get attracted to these diet plans for a quick weight loss. One of the most popular is the Master Cleanse diet, endorsed by a lot of Hollywood celebrities. It consists of consuming liquids throughout the day, starting with warm salt-water in the morning, followed by 60-ounce concoction of water, lemon juice, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper throughout the day; and finally finishing with a cup of laxative tea in the evening. Proponents of this diet claim that it melts fat and cleanses the body of toxins!

However, these diet plans are short-lived, and people are more likely to lose water weight, rather than fat itself. It can help them feel better and lighter, but then again depriving oneself of proper nutrients is not healthy either! Once the dieter resumes normal food and fluid intake, this weight is quickly regained.

In addition, detox teas and weight loss supplements that contain laxatives can cause dehydration, deplete electrolytes, affect normal bowel function and disrupt the gut health.

Intestinal Cleansing

This costly procedure involves flushing the colon with fluids to remove waste and toxins from the body. The proponents of colon cleansing suggest that impurities can stick to the colon walls and harden, causing the release of toxins that can affect health and cause diseases. However, from a scientific point of view, the lining of the colon is shed every 72 hours which means toxins don’t really build up on the wall. Our body is built to make all of this happen naturally, that’s why we pee and poop! Colon cleansing is meant to be used for preparation for medical procedures such as colonoscopy. Also, the risks involved include dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, impact on bowel function and imbalance in gut flora.

Foot Detox

This method claims to draw out toxins through the soles of your feet, but is it really possible? The answer is NO. The foot water bath may use salt and gentle electric current to draw out toxins. The change in the colour of the water (from clear to brown) or the colour of the footpads are offered as evidence that the method is working, and the toxins are being removed. However, this is simply due to the rusting of the electrodes in the salt solution and due to the chemicals in the pads which oxidize when in the presence of air and sweat. Check out this video to see for yourself!

Bottom line

Detoxing is a billion-dollar industry, and it is no surprise that entrepreneurs want to jump on this bandwagon! However, we tend to forget that our body is equipped to defend itself very effectively by creating a barrier and filtering unwanted foreign substances that can harm us. The idea of a quick-fix may sound appealing but the best way to maintain long-lasting health is to incorporate proper diet, regular exercises and proper sleep in your everyday routine.