Is There Such Thing as Detoxing?

When reading reviews of fad diets, you’ll often find that people who know a thing or two about the subject don’t rate them very highly. They’re called ‘fads’ for a reason and most ‘detoxes’ are difficult to stick to and likely to lead to rapid weight gain as soon as you finish them.

But that’s not the only thing that is wrong with all the various products and regimes that claim to offer a ‘detox’. There’s actually a more fundamental problem with them, which is that the whole concept of detoxing is a myth.

What Is a Detox?

The idea of detoxing seems logical and appealing on the face of it. The logic goes that if you stop eating for a while and potentially try to encourage your body to purge itself (via laxative, enema or other means) you’ll be able to completely empty it out and thereby give yourself a kind of ‘clean slate’ to begin again.

The colon is a long, long, windy tube that contains all our mostly digested food along with large amounts of bacteria. Then there’s our lungs which collect small toxins throughout the entire day as we breathe in the polluted air. Our skin looks grey and dull largely because of our clogged pores…

In other words, you might logically assume that the body collects all kinds of toxins that it can’t efficiently clear out on its own. Especially when you consider how inactive we are, or how polluted the world has become…

That’s the narrative we’re fed by these snake oil salesmen and women and for the most part, we lap it up.

The Problem With Detoxing

But just because something sounds reasonable, that doesn’t make it true. The whole idea of ‘flushing’ your organs or purging toxins is a scam and there’s absolutely no science to back it.

What you have to remember is that the human body has been happily purging its own toxins for thousands of years now. It’s done quite well without ‘herbal laxatives’ or ‘juice diets’ for this long and it will continue to do quite well in future.

Our digestive system has been specifically designed to filter toxins out of our food and bloodstream and this is precisely what ends up in the toilet bowl. The body utilizes what is useful for it and the rest has nowhere to go. Why would our body evolve in such a way that our feces could get ‘stuck’ and remain there for our whole lives? Meanwhile, most of the bacteria that builds up in the colon is actually necessary. Some theories now suggest that our appendix actually exists specifically to house bacteria and prevent various infections. This is why antibiotics can lead to various digestive issues and it’s a good example of the delicate harmony our body maintains on its own.

The whole concept of ‘toxins’ is nebulous and abstract and it seems that none of the ‘health gurus’ or product manufacturers are actually able to tell you what precisely they’re referring to. In fact, a group of experts were asked to contact 15 product manufacturers on behalf of the UK charity ‘Sense About Science’ to ask for evidence of their detoxification claims. Not one manufacturer was able to define the term, or even name the toxins they were targeting.

Treatments to Avoid

Diets that cause a ‘detox’ then are likely to offer no such thing and if you’re fasting then your weight loss will likely be short-lived. Worse still are treatments like colonic irrigation. This process claims to remove impacted ‘plaques’ of feces from the colon – but in fact there is no evidence of these plaques existing. Some colon-cleansing tablets go one step further, actually using an agent that polymerizes your feces thereby making it look as though you’ve successfully removed some kind of toxic sludge.

So next time you see the word ‘detox’ associated with anything, make sure you put on your cynical hat. The term itself is dubious and it often suggests a complete disregard for the scientific method, or even basic logic. Are these the kinds of people you want hosing your rear end out?



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Adam Sinicki

Adam Sinicki is a full time writer who spends most of his time in the coffee shops of London. Adam has a BSc in psychology and is an amateur bodybuilder with a couple of competition wins to his name. His other interests are self improvement, general health, transhumanism and brain training. As well as writing for websites and magazines, he also runs his own sites and has published several books and apps on these topics.

Follow Adam on Linkedin: adam-sinicki, twitter: thebioneer, facebook: adam.sinicki and youtube: treehousefrog

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