If you think a detox or cleanse is the cure or jump start you need for that beach body, read on to find out the truth.
How did these Detoxes Come About?
A lot of people have been on these crazy cleanses and detoxes. I know, I’ve done them. Every year January first comes around and we’d usually have our New Year’s resolutions. We’d want to get in shape, lose some weight, run faster, or jump higher. Now with these New Year’s resolutions, typically we’d want to achieve those in a really short period of time, like losing 30 pounds in 4 days or some other insane goal.
Unfortunately that urgency and desire to accomplish a huge undertaking as soon as possible kind of perpetuated this concept of detox diets and cleanses. These two things are kind of the same thing – they are purported to be able to cleanse the body of toxins.
These are very common and popular especially around the new year, just right after the holidays – Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s – where you probably ate way too much and just sat around, not doing anything much. So people typically want to make up for that. Now because most people don’t know how the body works they would hop on these fad diets, detoxes, or cleanses to get back to their desired fitness without some proper research.
What are Toxins?
First we need to define the term “toxin.” What toxins are these diets and cleanses purporting to get rid of? Try to look at that bottle you’re drinking or read the diet plan which these different manufacturers say are getting rid of these toxins. You’ll most likely not find any place out there which lists the toxins they’re supposed to get rid of.
There’s a reason for that. One – they’re probably just jumping onto the bandwagon of using fancy words that sound bad. Admit it, the word “toxins” would scare most people into buying stuff that would get rid of these.
Toxins are really about two things – the context and quantity of any substance.
First let’s talk about the context. Take for example a chocolate bar. In small amounts, chocolate can actually be good for your body as it helps it operate a little better. But if I drop a piece on the floor and my little dog gets all that chocolate, it could kill my dog since it contains theobromine. Now we humans easily metabolize this theobromine, but dogs process it much more slowly, allowing it to build up to toxic levels in their system. So contextually for me, the human, chocolate could be a good thing. But for my dog, it becomes a bad thing. So a toxin can be contextual or relative to who’s consuming it.
Next let’s talk about the quantity. There’s an old saying, “The dose makes the poison.” Let’s take as an example a little glass of water. Imagine you just walked across the barren desert in the middle of summer and you’re extremely dehydrated. That water might save your life, right? That glass of water would hydrate your body and allow you to stay alive. However, if right now I’d give you a 5-gallon jug of water and you drink that whole thing – you’d probably die.
Water, if taken in excess, can dilute your blood stream’s content of sodium and potassium. These two are electrolytes which help your muscles operate, and this includes your heart. So if your muscles or your heart doesn’t have enough of these electrolytes, then they can’t work… and you’ll likely have a heart attack and die.
So not enough water – bad. You get dehydrated and die. Too much water – also bad. Your heart stops working and you die. So does this mean water’s bad? Is it a toxin? No. It’s the dose that makes the poison.
Now what about allergies? Is it caused by toxins? It’s context. For me, I can eat peanuts, but for others these can be deadly. So is peanut a toxin? Not necessarily. It’s based on the situation.
So maybe purposefully cleansing our body of “toxins” is not really necessary, and that’s certainly not what’s going on with these purported diets.
When Does “Cleansing” Become Necessary?
Now there are certain things that can be toxic for us. You may eat a whole bunch of fruits and vegetables that weren’t cleaned first of its pesticides. Things like heavy metals, mercury, and pesticides, are fat-soluble, and if you consume them in excess quantities it can be concentrated in your body. You may need to go see a doctor to get something called Orlistat to help get rid of that concentration of pesticide, so it doesn’t become a toxin.
The same thing happens if you eat a lot of salmon or tuna from the ocean. These free-swimming fishes in the ocean often have more concentrations of mercury than the farmed ones. If you eat a ton of that stuff you might elevate the amount of mercury in your bloodstream, and your body holds on to that a bit longer. Now you have systems in your body that will slowly get rid of these concentrations over time, but if you ate a lot of this over a short period you might have to go to the doctor where they can medically treat you to get rid of the mercury concentrates.
Now you can avoid this by specifically choosing to eat farmed salmon. First, there’s less parasites in farmed salmon. The farmed salmon is also given controlled feed instead of eating smaller fish that ate other smaller fish which have more concentrates of heavy metals.
So the pesticides and heavy metals in those cases are actual toxins and you have to go the doctor to help get rid of these. Meanwhile, these popular detoxes and cleanses are most likely not prescribed by actual doctors.
What is the Point of These Detoxes/Cleanses?
I’ve done these this juicing thing before. So I’ve got some juices for a few days and there are these specific drinks – beet juice mixed with different spices and whatnot. I’m then told to take one in the morning and take another one as a snack and another for dinner. I’m given a pattern of what to do.
Now after learning all this about toxins, does this mean all that fuss with the juices didn’t even do anything?
So overall, any of these diets or juices claiming to detox or cleanse your body, are not actually doing anything concerned with actual “cleansing.” It’s the things in your body that actually do the detoxing or cleansing – you have organs that do that for you.
Most of these juices are supposed to replace actual food. So what you’re doing is essentially controlling and reducing the total calories going in your body, because you’re only drinking juices or you’re replacing a meal with just a juice. You’re just having less calories go in so you’ll most likely lose some weight after that juice cleanse. And if you lose weight, you’ll probably feel a lot better, like magic happened and cleansed you of all the toxins. But the reality is, nothing really changed inside your body with regard to these “toxins.”
I’m not saying juices are bad. Let’s just not misrepresent the reality of what’s occurring inside the body.
The Toxins in Our Body Get Flushed Out Naturally
So the organs in our body are the ones actually meant to do this detoxing process. When there’s a metabolism of some proteins or fats, some of the byproducts like ammonia could be bad when there’s too much. The liver can convert that ammonia into urea, which goes into the bloodstream. The kidneys then pull the urea out and it goes into our urine stream so we pee it out – that’s one way of getting rid of toxins. Another way is of course by pooping it out. Some of the byproducts that our liver gets rid of goes right down to our intestines, then out to the colon.
Another instance is that when we metabolize sugar, carbon dioxide is a byproduct. We need to get rid of it if there’s too much so the bloodstream pumps it to the lungs which exchange that gas. We then breathe out carbon dioxide so we don’t have too much building up. That’s why often times when we exercise, especially high-intensity exercise that uses up a lot of sugars, we start breathing heavily. It’s not necessarily trying to get more oxygen in, because we aren’t really using oxygen when we’re doing high-intensity exercise – we’re just getting rid of the carbon dioxide from the sugar metabolism.
So our liver, kidneys, and lungs are already getting rid of the toxins or high concentrations of things that could become toxic to our body. That’s how our body is made to work. Now if your liver’s messed up then you might want to look into it with your doctor to make sure and make up for the difference there. The same goes if you have kidney failure or renal failure. You might need to go to the hospital and have those toxins and concentrations gotten rid of by getting a dialysis because your kidneys aren’t doing their job. If your lungs aren’t working, you might have to go have something done. Now those are medical conditions and not things that we can change or fix by drinking a juice, taking a pill, or going on a special diet.
The three things our body does to get rid of most of these toxins are: breathing it out as carbon dioxide, peeing, and pooping. So we already have three main ways of getting rid of toxins and that’s how our body stays healthy and operational in the event of a concentration change of something that could become toxic.
So if your body is functioning properly, which goes for most of us, you’re already detoxing or cleansing yourself on a daily basis. But if you do have an issue, go see a doctor. If your kidneys are going bad, don’t try and bypass that whole thing and just have some beet juice. Seek medical help.
What Is the Value of These Detox Diets or Cleanses?
Let’s take a look at the standard American diet which usually consists of high-calorie foods like hamburger and ice cream. A lot of Americans eat foods that not only taste great and look amazing but are also really dense in calories.
So these detox diets tell you to eat more fruits, vegetables, and raw stuff because it’s good for you. Now it can be good for you especially if you have a weight loss goal. And if you do change from a high-calorie diet that is pretty low in nutrients, to healthier food such as broccoli and salads, you’re gonna reduce your total calorie intake. You’ll probably also reduce the total amount of sugar you’re consuming. By reducing calories, that leads you towards losing weight. By reducing excess amounts of sugar you’ll probably also reduce some of the stored sugar in your muscles called glycogen. Now this glycogen is basically sugar plus water combined in the muscles. When that glycogen starts to come down a little bit, you’ll lose water weight as well.
So a lot of people that will go on a detox diet or a cleanse will have way less calorie intake in the first few days and will most likely lose pounds. And when the number on the scale goes down people think the detox is working. But it’s not necessarily the fat that you lost – it was just weight that you lost. And what people forget is that what these detoxes are purporting to get rid of are toxins. So if they inadvertently make you lose weight then that is a great side effect, but weight isn’t the toxin.
It’s okay to have a weight loss goal or a fat loss goal but the claim that detox diets and cleanses rid the body of toxins – it’s just FICTION.
What about using coffee as a sort of detox? Does it help?
Now caffeine is a stimulant to the central nervous system and it can be a diuretic meaning it makes you pee and poop. You’ll most likely lose a little weight as your water levels go down because you’re urinating more and your kidneys are pulling more water from inside the bloodstream. So it’s not good or bad, but it’s not getting rid of toxins. Coffee does have some positive health benefits but it really has nothing to do with toxins other than the fact that you’re peeing and pooping more which you would have done anyway – it just sort of accelerates it.
So detoxes and cleanses do not get rid of the toxins in your body – your body itself does this naturally.
1. Detox diets and cleanses DO NOT get rid of the toxins in our body. It only helps in controlling and reducing the total calories going in your body, especially if you’re replacing meals with juices. It can result in weight loss but it doesn’t mean that the “toxins” are gone.
2. Our body is already detoxing or cleansing itself on a daily basis through the liver, kidneys, and lungs. We breathe these toxins out as carbon dioxide, or flush them out by peeing or pooping. If you think there is a problem with these organs, seek medical help before going on a detox instead.
3. Detox diets and cleanses can be helpful in starting healthier eating habits to achieve weight loss goals, but weight isn’t the toxin.