Detoxing -What is it and is it Real?
It is common when trying to get a jump start in your health, you hear or read the words ‘detox’ or cleanse. People will claim that it is the best thing for you to do with your body and that it will help flush out excess toxins and impurities. But how much of that is true? Is this something that is time tested? Or, is it another fad? Today, I will be presenting the history behind cleansing and detoxing, how popular it had gotten and whether or not it is backed by any scientific evidence.
Definition of Detox and Toxicity
In its purest medical definition, detoxing means, “a medical procedure that rids the body of dangerous, often life-threatening, levels of alcohol, drugs, or poisons.”
Today’s definition has since broadened to a more general one, thanks to the diet industry. In layman’s terms detoxing means ” to get rid of the excess impurities in the body. ”
Toxins are substances that can cause harm to the body due to either the nature of the substance itself or due to excess exposure to a specific substance.
Examples of a toxic substance by nature would be something like sumac or snake venom. If you are exposed to it, you will get sick instantly. Your body must decrease exposure to that substance immediately to prevent death or extreme illness.
An example of toxicity through excess ingestion would be someone drinking too much water or eating too many oranges. The excess of both of those things would disturb the filtration process of your digestive system. This causes an imbalance the level of nutrients needed for your body to survive.
What a Toxin is Not
A toxin is not a nondescript impurity that needs to be flushed out every so often.
A periodical dedicated to the study and classification of toxins had this to say on the matter. “Recently, public health and social agendas have become more proactive in food toxicology, such as regulating (or outright banning) trans fats in foods on the basis of public safety… These agendas lose sight of the basic principle of toxicology that “the dose makes the poison” and that demanding “safety per se” or “safe at any dose”, for all foods and ingredients is a non-starter and as a concept, was abandoned with the adoption of the Federal Food and Drug Act (FFDCA) in 1958.”
If toxins are the excess of one element in the body and not a generic catchall for impurities, what does that mean for things like diet and cleanses? Do they help keep you fit and healthy in spite of the fact that it isn’t technically filled with toxins?
The answer to that is complicated. But, before we talk about what is effective, we also need to talk about how our bodies play a role in detoxification. Because they are surprisingly more efficient than people realize.
Our Bodies are Amazing!
Surprisingly, our bodies do a good job of removing toxins themselves. Any excess waste that we expel from our body comes through our bowels, our urine, our lymph nodes, our lungs, and even our skin. That’s right even our skin helps expel waste from our bodies.
But the heavy lifters that do the actual filtration is our kidneys and our livers. Without their contribution, our bodies would not be able to tell the difference between a nutrient and a toxin.
However, before you start eating all the cheeseburgers you want, remember that our bodies still have their limits. If you deny your body access the nutrients that it needs to survive by eating junk food, it will stop working on you. It will also stop working if you put in too many foreign substances it doesn’t need.
Only doing a cleanse for a short period of time, or a quick round of starvation will do nothing for your body in the long run. You will just get right back to feeling sick again.
This is where a real cleanse will come in.
The Difference between a Program and a Fad
A detox is something that helps your body flush toxins out of your system quickly. This ranges from things like breathing in high oxygen content, focusing on evacuating bowels with water, wearing footpads, or emptying out your nasal cavity. Most of these, if not all of them are not based on scientific research and oftentimes yield little results. These people who perpetuate the idea of detoxing most likely do not have medical training. At best they are either well-intentioned but misinformed. At worst they are just people who are after your money.
When cleanses are concerned, there is some merit to be found. It is just a matter of taking the time to do your homework and checking to make sure whether this is a “flash in the pan ” type of fad.
You can usually spot whether a cleanse program is a little more legitimate depending on their expectations. For example, if the cleanse is part of something that is under medical supervision and is trying to reintroduce you to healthy habits, there is a good chance it is legitimate.
Programs that are there to help people feel healthier also focus on things like nutrients and fibers. They oftentimes start off with calorie restriction and slowly reintroduce you to healthier habits. While there might be a few supplements for sale, it is usually not a requirement to make their program work.
Their more fad-like counterparts expect you to drink their shakes and eat their protein bars for the rest of your life. There is often no addressing of habits at all. There is also little consultation or prescreening involved. Also, there is little that is offered by either the people running the program or the community that follow it.
Should detoxing become a regular thing? No. It is either well-intentioned pseudoscience or an outright scam. Does that mean that your body doesn’t need any help in getting better? Of course not. Just talk to your doctor and see what you can do about your health before you start trying stuff that wastes your time and money.